posted: Sunday, 17 March 2019
September 2019- edited to add extra information about Chinese crystals below
One of the most common supplies I am asked questions about is the 27mm Swarovski Crown Stone #1201 so I thought I would write a blog about them.
These stones are used in a lot of my work (and the work of many other beadwork designers) as they are large, colourful and very sparkly.
Some of my finished pieces you can see the crystals used in are:
But sadly Swarovski have discontinued every colour apart from Crystal and Crystal AB.
Fortunately this means that they will still be available from companies that add 'after-market coatings' but it does mean that stocks of any colours from Swarovski are very low (so I recommend stocking-up on them if you can as I know lots of other designers have designs using them and I have 3 new patterns using them coming over 2019...).
I do know a lot of bead shops do have small supplies of them (maybe not enough to list them on a website) so do ask them if you're looking for some but if you are looking for some online here are some places I have bought them:
If you're in the UK or Europe (or can buy from there) then the main places I buy mine from are:
In the USA (or can buy from there) you can find them online at:
But there are also alternatives out there now some of which are:
Chinese Crystal Versions
I see a lot of the Chinese crystal versions in my classes and, whilst they can look wonderful from the front and in the finished piece, you must be aware of some issues with them.
The main problems people using them run into is that they are often a lot thicker than the Swarovski version (especially at the edges) often larger than the 27mm they are advertised as and sometimes not as circular or even.
The difference in size can cause major issues and I have recently come across crystals sold as 27mm which were between 30-32mm which may be they are completely inappropriate for a project calling for 27mm (a 32mm crystal is a whole 15mm longer around the outside edge than an 27mm crystal)
The difference in thickness and size can cause problems if you're following someone else's instructions so I really recommend you check with the designer or teacher before trying to use them (which applies to any materials of tools substitution you're planning on) as they should be able to advise you if they won't work in the project, or can tell how how to adjust the beading if possible.
Whilst I have absolutely no issues with people using them in class (definitely not, they come in such sumptuous colours and are very affordable) many times people have told me they have Swarovski ones (and sadly often they have been sold to them as that) but they have Chinese ones and so don't alter the beading to make the bezel deeper and then run into issues later on... and no-one enjoys undoing beadwork to have to redo it!
So if you do want to use these I really recommend letting me know in advance so I can either try to figure out if they'll work or let you know I don't think they'll work and save you wasted time and money.
I have used these in a lot of my work and you can see some finished pieces here:
These I have bought from Perles & Co and I really like using them.
I find that they're not much thicker than the Swarovski ones and an added bonus is that as they are 'unfoiled' there isn't a front or back so you can use them with the pointed front showing which is a look I really like (compare the Peacock Estrella and Moroccan Tiles pendant linked above to see what I mean).
However (just as with the unfoiled Swarovski ones) some of them you can see right through which means you can see the beadwork at the back and they don't have anywhere near as much sparkle as Swarovski ones. A method I have used to deal with this is shown in the top photo: adding your own foil.
To do this you simply, before fully covering the back, add a piece of foil (cut to fit) to the back of the cabochon and hold it in place as you continue the beading.
The bottom 2 photos (which I originally showed back in November 2016) show you the difference when foil is used.
I simply used tinfoil but experimenting with any coloured or patterned foil will give you some amazing results so if you do this please do send photos which I'll share here.