Difference Between Swarovski Crystal & Glass Beads

crystal image by ChristArt from Fotolia.com

Jewelry has always been a part of the mainstream fashion trend in some form. Today, many women are wearing more costume jewelry to add a splash of color to brighten their daily wardrobe. Costume jewelry made of Swarovski crystal or glass beads is generally a less expensive alternative to fancy gemstones. Yet even jewelry using these kinds of beads can vary considerably in price, so it’s a good idea to know what you’re getting for your money.


In essence, glass is the raw form of crystal. When lead is added to glass, it turns into crystal. The more lead that’s added, the heavier the crystal becomes. Glass contains no or very little lead content, which is why it’s lighter than crystal. Swarovski crystal, with its high lead content, is the heaviest crystal of all crystals made from glass.

High Lead Content

The quality of crystal is based on its lead content. The more lead it contains, the better quality of crystal. In the U.S., glass with 1 percent lead content is considered crystal in the jewelry industry. However, Swarovski crystals have higher standards when it comes to lead content and contain at least 30 percent lead or higher. It’s for this reason that Swarovski crystal is known as the best-quality crystal worldwide.

Sparkles More

Lead is what makes crystal sparkle. Since crystal contains lead and glass doesn’t, crystal sparkles more than glass.

Light Reflector

Lead is also what makes crystal reflect light. The higher the lead content, the more light and colors it reflects. The light-reflecting quality of plain glass pales in comparison to Swarovski crystal.

More Uniform Beads

Unlike glass beads, Swarovski crystals are uniform in size and shape. They are cut and polished by high-quality, sophisticated machines also used to cut gems. The machines cut several of the same facets in different directions--a process similar to one used to cut diamonds. Facets are the flat face of the crystal, and the number of facets determines the bead’s shape. The process helps to ensure there are no bubbles or scratch marks inside the crystal.