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Swarovski’s Mastery and Craftsmanship


The Majesty of Elephant Fayola

The Swarovski Crystal Society (SCS) collection is once again heading to the wide, sprawling plains of the African savanna. This year, we are taking inspiration from the largest land mammal on Earth – the African elephant. Let’s take a look at how the magnificent matriarch, Elephant Fayola, was brought to life in crystal.

Guardians of the African savanna

Is there an animal that inspires more awe and grandeur than the African elephant? Standing between eight and 13 ft tall and weighing anywhere between 5—14,000 lbs, this magnificent animal has a commanding presence that makes even lions and cheetahs move out of the way. 

As a keystone species, African elephants are essential engineers of their ecosystem. While their herds roam the African lands, they spread seeds and create pathways to pave the way for smaller animals to move through the brush more easily. In the dry season, they use their great tusks and dexterous trunks to dig up riverbeds and pull up saplings and trees. This creates miniature oases for their herd and other species and helps aerate the soil to keep the landscape open for other plains animals.
In addition to their great size, African elephants are impressive for their human-like behavior. They are extremely sociable animals and often stay within the same family unit for their whole life. Calves swing their trunks around wildly until their parent teaches them how to use it, and when a herd member dies, the others grieve and often return to the spot of the loved one’s death as if to pay their respects.

These spectacular creatures are  matriarchal, too. Herds are often female-heavy with the biggest and oldest elephant serving as the leader and a surrogate grandmother to many in the herd. Elephant Fayola, meaning “the one who walks with honor”, was modeled after one of these great maternal leaders, ever watchful over her family.

Gentle giants, these elephants are impressive caretakers of the African plains. They preside over their home like a loving parent, ensuring a healthy, prosperous environment for their decendents and the land and animals that surround them. With this year’s Elegance of Africa SCS Annual Edition 2022 Elephant Fayola, this same majestic presence will radiate throughout your home. 

The masterful designer Martin Zendron took on the challenge of translating the African elephant’s mighty stature into fine Swarovski crystal. To accomplish this, he captured the essence of the elephant by calling to mind images of this mesmerizing giant ambling through yellow sawgrass, slowly making its way to a watering hole, unaffected by the obstacles ahead. He then realized it in a captivating new Greige colored crystal.

Watch the video to see Elephant Fayola’s creation

Step 1: Research and sketches
Zendron began his work by immersing himself in the world of the African elephant. He read extensively, watched documentaries, and listened to African music often using three computer screens; one for working and the other two for setting the perfect mood to understand Elephant Fayola. Ultimately, he gleaned the most inspiration from Tanzania and the Serengeti.

While designing Elephant Fayola, Zendron also kept in mind how the elephant would become part of a cohesive collection. He chose to depict the gentle giant mid-stride, symbolizing her continuous stroll across the African savanna, protecting both the landscape and her infants: “Elephants look out for each other, they protect their young and they always keep an eye on them,” he says. “Visually, it was important that the elephants looked like they were wandering.”

Step 2: Rough sculptural modeling
Using digital computer modeling, Zendron then worked on converting his sketches into a three-dimensional representation. He experimented with different leg, trunk, and tusk positions until he settled on a pose that perfectly captured the grand African elephant’s essence.

Step 3: Design model
Once a final design was chosen, Zendron worked with product developers to optimize the angles of the facets to ensure the masterpiece would capture the elephant’s majesty as well as Swarovski crystal’s beauty. When they were satisfied, Elephant Fayola boasted 822 facets and a resin replica was produced. 

Step 4: Handmade prototype
Elegance of Africa SCS Annual Edition 2022 Elephant Fayola finally paraded into life as a hand-cut and polished prototype. Although the color Greige had never been used for such a large figurine, Zendron chose it because he felt it was the closest color to the elephant’s iconic skin. The exterior was further enhanced with Marron and Satin effects to enhance every angle of its silhouette and the spine was steamed to give the illusion of sand across the animal’s back, which it uses to protect itself from the sun.
Step 5: Production of crystal parts
Once the crystal prototype was perfected, production began. This required precise tooling to individually cut each of the constituent parts of the great mammal. Meticulous care was taken to perfect the signature curve of the elephant’s back.

Step 6: Gluing and assembly
Each component was meticulously glued together by hand, and a final polish helped to bring Elephant Fayola 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 each facet was flawless and radiant. Once it passed this final scrutiny, Elephant Fayola was ready to embark on a new journey into our homes, bringing with her an air of majesty and warmth.