So, first off – I am not a journalist. I haven’t been deeply investigating into this story and I don’t have direct info from Swarovski. The bead shop where I work doesn’t currently carry Swarovski crystal, so we don’t have a direct representative to ask.
But I am very plugged into the beading community on social media and there seems to be a bit of a Swarovski storm brewing and I wanted to put everything I know into one place and maybe hear from you guys if you have more info?
So, first of all. I run the Beads Direct USA Instagram page and follow a whole lot of beaders and bead shops from that account. A little over a week ago, I noticed a story from an Australian bead shop alerting their customers that they weren’t going to be able to sell Swarovski beads anymore because Swarovski was switching their focus to their fine jewelry and not selling beads or crafting supplies anymore.
I know. I was also shocked.
But, after some extensive googling, I wasn’t able to find any other source to back up that claim. It seemed doubtful that the Australian shop would lie about something like that, but maybe it was region specific? I didn’t know, but since I didn’t have any more info, I just waited.
Now, I’m in a couple different beading groups on Facebook, and one of them belongs to Jill Wiseman. I don’t post on there much, since she only allows posts of her designs and products, but it can be a really great source of news. When people in her group who must have also seen the rumors started asking about it, she promised to check with her Swarovski supplier and get back to us.
On October 30th, this is the email she got and shared with us.
“Dear Valued Customers,
E.H. Ashley continues to be your source for Swarovski crystal components. They have assured us that we can continue to place orders and they will be delivered. They do not plan to abruptly cut off supply on any products.
I know there are a lot of rumors out there, but we are in continuous contact with Swarovski’s management team and base our information on the facts they provide. They are reorganizing their business and “will continue to sell Swarovski crystals albeit in a more controlled environment with select branding partners.”
As more information becomes available, we will keep you informed. Meanwhile, please be assured that we are here to continue to supply you.
E.H. Ashley & Company, INC”
Interesting. But, lo and behold, the next day on October 31st, Jill shared this with us.
“Can we stand one more Swarovski post? Well, I’m going to write one!
Here’s fact: Australia and New Zealand HAVE been told they will no longer receive beads (and fancy stones) from Swarovski by the end of the year. According to a MAJOR bead store owner in Perth, Swarovski then intends to look at other markets and decide. I trust what she says.
Swarovski IS going through a major reorganization with an eye to cutting areas so they are thought of as a luxury brand again. There have been many layoffs within the company under it’s new management, and it’s not over yet. It is unclear at this time where the beads and components line falls within this.
Here’s my personal speculation: I think it’s possible that they are closing down the beads and components market region-by-region. I hope I’m wrong. But it makes no business sense to keep making the product, but then exclude a large territory like Australia/New Zealand from purchasing it from them. It seems more like the first step in a process.
Here’s my personal plan: I will continue to stock Swarovski. Right now, there are no significant limitations on obtaining it here (other than Covid-related.) But I also will be looking to add Preciosa into our crystal lineup. It will take a while, as US distributers are terrible about carrying the full product line. Example: one distributer I looked at yesterday carries THREE 3mm bicone colors, and about 20 of the 4mm bicones. Preciosa has 42 base colors and an additional 17 color effects for reference. I’ll have to hunt and search, and then I’ll have to afford it too – so it will be a process.
I also plan to look for good quality Chinese bicones as another price level option for my customers.
What I think you should do: Carry on as usual for now. If there’s a Swarovski color you adore with all your heart, you might gradually lay in a little stock for just in case. As always, I will keep you posted with any new developments as soon as I know them.
What about prices: Some folks have asked if the price will go up. I don’t know right now, but probably. At Jill Wiseman Designs, I have not increased Swarovski prices in 5 years – I’ve absorbed 5 years of annual cost increases and currency adjustments. It’s something I’ll look at in 2021, or sooner if there indeed is another cost increase.
That’s everything I know, folks. Stay calm. We can do this.”
After that, I was pretty convinced that Swarovski had decided to stop production on their beads and crafting supplies and was just trying to only tell one region at a time. Jill’s right. It just wouldn’t make any sense to exclude Australia and New Zealand if every other region was going to continue as normal.
Then Stitchncraft, a UK bead store, shared this in their newsletter, which Jill shared today, November 7th.
As many of you may be aware there have been a number of rumours recently regarding the direction that Swarovski are moving with their business. As a Swarovski Authorized Retailer we had a meeting on Friday in order for them to share with us their future plans.
Unfortunately we have to report that they will cease, or have already ceased, production on virtually all of the Swarovski products we stock as part of the restructuring of their business. We felt that we had to alert our valued customers as many of you will have patterns, kits and unfinished projects that will require the now discontinued products ranges.
Their projected plan is that from January 2021 their current direct customers, like us, will only be able to purchase a certain amount of product each based on a previous purchase history. The sale of the products to direct customers will cease from June 2021.
Whilst this may seem like a long way away it is important to note that when there is no more production on these lines that their stocks may well run out well before this deadline. We do have access to their stock holding of all the lines we sell but of course we do not know how quickly these lines will diminish.
So, if the UK is also not going to have access to Swarovski crystal beads and stones after 2021, I am pretty certain that this is going to be worldwide. This kind of restructuring isn’t super surprising, since apparently they’ve had massive job cuts and store closures this year. I think the attempt to market themselves more exclusively by clinging to the fine jewelry angle and abandoning their craft marker is understandable, if disappointing.
First off, do you have any info that I don’t? Have you received contradictory information or heard from other retailers about this? If so, please let me know if the comments. I’m really interested in what’s going on and why they’ve taken this weird approach of only telling certain regions at a time when the internet makes news fly so quickly.
Secondly, how do you feel about this? Personally, I’m not very inconvenienced individually, I really don’t use bicone crystals very often and I don’t have any patterns that rely on specialty Swarovski shapes or stones. All of my patterns that use bicones and rivoli crystals will work just fine with, say, Preciosa bicones or Matubo rivolis. And as a beader, I tend to reach for Czech Fire-polished crystals before a sparkly bicone – it’s just not my style.
But it is still really shocking to see such a giant in the industry abandoning the craft market (and in such a weird, half-concealed way). And after losing my two beloved local bead shops this year and the Bead and Button closure, it is definitely a little emotional to see another pillar of the beading community crumble. Although, now would be a great time for Preciosa to step up production and worldwide availability and I do like some of their finishes and prefer their price point.
What do you think? Have any more info to share? Any feelings?