Swarovski to Stop Selling Beads? What I Know So Far


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.
Regards,
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?

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11 Responses to Swarovski to Stop Selling Beads? What I Know So Far

  1. Elizabeth (Liz) Browning Fox says:

    Good post, Sam. We’re all finding some empty shelves these days, and it has been wonderful to continue beading when other things have changed so much……and now this. As time goes on, we’ll need some great ideas for what to do with 3 of this and 5 of that, because the other manufacturers colors just don’t quite match. What will I miss the most? The Swarovski iridescent crystal pearls……..oh, no!

    Like

  2. Sam I got this from Harman:

    *Important Notice*
    REGARDING SWAROVSKI CRYSTAL

    Dear Valued Customers,

    In recent days we have seen statements being posted and rumors being circulated on social media regarding the restructuring of Swarovski and how it would effect their production of crystal components. As your supplier of Swarovski crystals, we feel it is important for you to have the facts and keep open communication with our loyal customers.

    We have a unique and long-standing relationship with Swarovski that goes back 68 years and are always in continuous close contact with Swarovski’s management team. We base our information only on the facts that they provide to us directly.

    Swarovski is in fact in the process of restructuring their entire company and business model. They will continue to manufacture and distribute loose Swarovski crystal components but how this will be implemented is still being decided.

    Please rest assured that we at HARMAN can and will continue to be your reliable source for Swarovski crystal components. Swarovski has assured us that for the time being, there will be a constant flow of product. However, you may still see longer lead times due to COVID and factory staffing reductions.

    As always, we will keep you informed as we receive more information from Swarovski concerning the restructure and how it might affect us and our customers.

    Sincerely,

    Alisa Mandel Nogen, CEO

    Like

    • samwescott says:

      Man, that is SO interesting! The part where they say “Swarovski is in fact in the process of restructuring their entire company and business model. They will continue to manufacture and distribute loose Swarovski crystal components but how this will be implemented is still being decided.” could definitely still mean beaders not having retail access, but I wish they would just tell us what they mean. Thanks for adding this in!

      Like

  3. Rebecca Starry says:

    I for one felt disheartened by the news. I use some crystals, not as many as other artists. But I felt abandoned, like we weren’t worthy of their product. Now I expect to see more people turning to a lessor quality, cheaper alternative component to incorporate into their work. Then, when Swarovski makes up their mind on how to get their now higher priced product to us – it will be too late to convince some to come back. Perhaps it will open the door to competition like Preciosa or someone else to enter the game.

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  4. Liz G says:

    Hi I was just googling about the changes at Swarovski and I came across your post. The following is an email I received from a wholesaler that I deal with here in the UK who seem to have received similar info to the other shops in the UK. Stephen Arnold are one of their main distributors in the UK so if it’s affecting them I can’t that it wouldn’t affect all distributors/retail shops especially with what they have been told. Whether they are having their accounts closed a region at a time could account for the differing messages! Still very sad information whenever it happens!

    “To all our customers,

    Stephen Arnold Ltd was established almost 26 years to the day (est. 1994) as a wholesaler for jewellery and Czech glass beads. Swarovski approached us to become their ‘Business Partner’ to sell their range of sparkling crystals to customers they could not reach and we were thrilled to be working with such a beautiful product!

    Over the years our relationship with Swarovski flourished and we received numerous titles for our outstanding work and dedication including: ‘Authorized Wholesaler’

    ‘Official Retailer’

    ‘Application Partner’

    and finally ‘Official Distribution Partner’

    (of which we are 1 of 12 globally).

    Over the past 26 years we have had the pleasure to work with some truly amazing people! Some of whom have worked with us from day one and feel like part of the Stephen Arnold family. Our family has grown over the years and we have been able to produce some fantastic creations working closely with and building such a wonderful community.

    You may have heard in the news that from January 2020 a new CEO of Swarovski has taken the reigns and implemented some changes.

    Unfortunately, some of these changes have had a huge impact on the division within Swarovski that sells their loose components also known as Swarovski Professional.

    We have regrettably been informed by the Head of Regional Business Management for the UK&I, Benelux and Scandinavia at Swarovski, that from June 2021 our account as a long-standing customer/partner with Swarovski will close, along with all direct Swarovski Professional customers globally.

    Here’s what we have been told;

    Swarovski will be focusing their brand towards the luxury market in the apparel and accessories segments
    Effective from June 2021 Swarovski will close all customer accounts
    From June 2021, neither Stephen Arnold Ltd nor any retailer, wholesaler or direct Swarovski customer will be able to purchase Swarovski crystals.
    Until this date we can continue to sell Swarovski Crystal

    What’s next for you?

    We understand that this may come as a shock to you and as you use Swarovski Crystal in your designs/work/products or your business focuses on Swarovski in some format, we felt the need to inform you at the earliest possible opportunity.

    There are alternatives available, such as Preciosa and Chinese cut glass crystals. I have provided the link to Preciosa below.

    Preciosa – https://www.preciosa.com/en/home

    Like

  5. Blair says:

    I stumbled across your post while doing some research.

    I too have been informed by one of my swarovski wholesalers of these changes that will begin as of Jan 2021. As a Bridal accessory designer, I am completely gutted, stunned and shocked by their decision to completely up and abandon all of their loyal artisans, crafters, designers and retailers who have invested thousands of dollars into their product for the creation of their designs.

    I am heartbroken that after 11 years of my business I have to try to find an alternative to the quality that I love, stand behind and provide to my customers.

    This is a real shame.

    Like

    • samwescott says:

      I think you’re the first person I’ve heard from who’s in a different crafting sector. It’s validating to hear that other folks are getting the same info, but I’m really sorry for the trouble it’s causing you. :(

      Like

      • Blair Nadeau says:

        Thanks. I think the news is slowly trickling down through industries. I’m still awaiting more information from my supplier as they have admitted the info they have gotten is spotty at best.

        I guess this is a time for Preciosa to step it up, as they will be the next best quality in the game.

        It’s heartbreaking to know that this will hit so many industries. It will have a real ripple effect.

        Thanks so much for your kind words!

        Like

  6. Rai Sow says:

    https://www.instagram.com/p/CHiLjVQDedy/ check out this instagram post, it was announced there too.

    Like

  7. Anonymous says:

    The Jewellery Channel are holding their last Swarovski day today due to Swarovski stopping supplies

    Like

  8. Ashley says:

    This is terribly disheartening as so many of us use Swarovski for our income as well. I feel like I’m being fired too. Me and many of our nail tech friends are stocking up as much as we can on crystals.

    They’re handling this so poorly, like they’re trying to save face. But honestly screw them. How could you not disclose clear information directly to the public that has supported you for decades? Our livelihoods matter too! But apparently not to Swarovski. I wouldn’t support them after this regardless.

    Like

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