Swarovski was founded in the late 19th century by an Austrian jeweler named Daniel Swarovski, who figured out how to back faceted crystals with foil so they looked almost liked diamonds. These rhinestones, as they were called due to the company’s proximity to the Rhine River, became and remain the standard for costume jewelry.

In 1976, as part of the company’s ongoing postwar diversification, Swarovski offered its first crystal figurine, a 2 ½-inch-tall mouse, designed by Max Schreck, with either a length of floppy leather, braided metal, or spring for its tail. Today, Swarovski collectors can choose among thousands of figurines, from alligators to zebras, ballet dancers to Santa Claus. Especially popular in recent years are the slew of Disney figures, as well as animals representing the signs of the Chinese zodiac.


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