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Swarovski's Mastery and Craftmanship

This year’s Swarovski Crystal Society (SCS) collection takes inspiration from the unique flora and fauna of Africa – and in particular the zebra. We take a look at how the natural beauty of the African equine has been brought to life in crystal form.

A dazzling animal

 A zebra’s stripes are its key distinguishing element, with each animal bearing a unique pattern. However, the question of how the zebra got its stripes and what purpose they serve has long been debated.

Some believe that stripes allow zebras to keep cool under the hot African sun, while recent research suggests that the patterns function as an insect repellent, capable of deceiving flies that try to land on the zebra’s hide. 

Others claim that when in movement, black and white stripes can create a ""dazzling effect"" that confuses the zebra’s predators – many of which are color-blind. This can help to disguise the animal’s speed or direction of travel, and help it camouflage while in large groups. In fact, this phenomenon led to a group of zebras being referred to as a ""dazzle"" – making them the perfect creature to reimagine in Swarovski crystal. Just like the equines of the African savanna, this year’s SCS Annual Edition 2021 Zebra Amai truly dazzles.

Seven steps to perfection

Innovative designer Heinz Tabertshofer took on the challenge of translating the zebra’s unique striped coat into Swarovski crystal. This is the process he undertook to recreate one of Mother Nature’s iconic creations for Swarovski:

Step 1: Research and sketches

Heinz began by researching the animal and its natural habitat before visiting the Evelyn Haim-Swarovski equine farm – and its two zebra residents. This gave Heinz the opportunity to study the animals a little closer and in real life. In the end, the SCS Zebra Amai is largely based on one of the local zebras called Helmut. 

Step 2: Rough sculptural modeling

Using digital computer modeling, the sketches were converted into a three-dimensional representation. At this stage, different stances and expressions could be experimented with until the perfect pose was found.

Step 3: Design model

Once a final design was settled on, designer Heinz Tabertshofer and the product developer worked together to optimize the angles of the facets, to ensure the masterpiece would sparkle at its best. When they were satisfied, the Zebra Amai boasted 457 facets and a resin replica could be produced. 

Step 4: Handmade prototype

The SCS Annual Edition 2021 Zebra Amai finally sparkled into life as a hand-cut and polished prototype. A special coating was used to help define her stripes, giving Zebra Amai a unique Silver Night and Golden Shine coat.

Step 5: Production of crystal parts

Once the prototype had been perfected, production could begin. Precise tooling individually cut each of the constituent parts of the model. 

Step 6: Gluing and assembly

Each component was meticulously glued together by hand, and a final polish was all that was needed to bring the Zebra Amai to life. 

Step 7: Quality control

Each crystal creation was thoroughly examined by a team of experts, who ensured that all colors looked as they should and that all facets were flawless and radiant. Once it had passed this final scrutiny, it was ready to fill the world with joy and brilliance!