AN OVERVIEW OF THE CRYSTAL LODGE
About the owner
Alison has collected Swarovski crystal for more years than she will ever admit to, and has been active on the secondary market for over 15 years. Her favourite items are from the Silver Crystal animals range, especially the older ones, and of course, the variation pieces.
With a long and varied career within the Civil Service behind her and more of the same to look forward to, Alison decided that enough was enough - she was bored, bored, bored! She wanted a completely new challenge – and the idea of running and owning a secondary market Swarovski Crystal company had long been her dream.
Alison is the only person to have ever helped at the Nancy Gibbs Collectibles shows AND also the Crystal Exchange shows which were part of the Swarovski Designer Signing Events. No-one else worked at both shows. We hope that one day, we can also add Crystal Lodge shows to that list to complete the hat-trick.
How The Crystal Lodge started
At the beginning of 2008 plans started to take shape, when Alison had the idea for the company. With The Crystal Lodge set up as a sole trader company, in mid 2008 with a change to Limited company status planned for later in the year, something amazing happened. Nancy Gibbs offered Alison the opportunity to buy Nancy Gibbs Collectibles Limited, a UK based company that Nancy and husband Alan had been running for many years, which they had built from nothing into a company which in its hey-day was the largest stockist not only in the UK, but in the world of retired Swarovski crystal. Alison jumped at the chance!
So, why “The Crystal Lodge”?
The Crystal Lodge was still a dream and once Alison had taken over NGC, she decided to change the name, the logo and the NGC website and create The Crystal Lodge (London) Ltd on the very strong foundations. This wasn’t designed to be disrespectful to Nancy, as Alison was so genuinely thrilled and delighted that Nancy had offered her the opportunity to buy her company. However, the name did begin to cause confusion as The Crystal Lodge will only be stocking Swarovski crystal and no other collectibles – within the first few weeks, we had been asked about handbags, wedding bouquets, diecast, Stratton compacts, Lladro, teddy bears, discontinued china – you name it! Plus the second problem was that people couldn’t quite understand why the company had a different person’s name to the name of the owner! So, the decision was made. The original sole trader name would be converted to the Limited Company by replacing the Nancy Gibbs name.
The original name “The Crystal Lodge” was one of those things which just “happened”, based on the requirement for a brand identity of its own which reflected what the company did. After several days of suggestions, ideas and complete dismay that we couldn’t find “the one”, there was a period where everyone said – no more discussions about names today. Forget it – don’t think about it – do something else. One night, while Alison was washing her hair (for some reason, she has most of her best ideas while washing her hair!) she was running through names for groups of animals – but Parliament of Owls and Crash of Rhinos just weren’t working! Suddenly she had the idea of the names of homes of animals. After all, the company would be the “home of retired Swarovski crystal” and the vast majority of the products would be animals, so it seemed an ideal concept to have the name of an animal’s home for the animals to live in until they found a new home. After thinking of setts, dreys, nests and eeries – suddenly “Lodge” came into her head. Instinctively she knew that was the one!! So, “The Crystal Lodge” it was.
From there, the inevitable “catchphrases” sprung up. The most apt one being “The Crystal Lodge = the home of retired Swarovski crystal”. If you will pardon the puns, the team also came up with “The Crystal Lodge is the logical place to buy Swarovski crystal” (groan) and just so sellers don’t feel left out: “Your crystal lodges with us while it finds a new home.
A big surprise on our second birthday!
At the beginning of September 2010, we were offered the opportunity to purchase our major UK rival company "Crystal Exchange Ltd".
Crystal Exchange was created in 1993 by John Whillock who successfully ran the company assisted by his wife Jill until 2010. Crystal Exchange was not only the UK's premier secondary market crystal company, but Europe's premier secondary market crystal company as well. So we were delighted to accept and the deal was completed in just 2 and a half weeks! The formal handover of Crystal Exchange Ltd was made on 1st September 2010, exactly 2 years after The Crystal Lodge had purchased Nancy Gibbs Collectibles Ltd to become The Crystal Lodge (London) Ltd.
Crystal Exchange worked in an entirely different way to The Crystal Lodge, in that it acted as a retired crystal brokerage (a sort of crystal matchmaker). As our plans take shape, we will be exploring ways to develop both systems and run them alongside each other. Although this might take some time to perfect.
Our Company history in brief
1993 - Crystal Exchange Ltd is created and is incorporated as a Limited Company. Crystal Exchange Ltd became the premier secondary market crystal company in the UK and Europe.
1995 - Nancy Gibbs Collectibles is created.
1998 - Nancy Gibbs Collectibles (NGC) is incorporated as a Limited Company. At this time, NGC was the largest stockist in the entire world, not just the UK, of retired Swarovski crystal, and the only company to hold exclusive retired Swarovski crystal shows. These shows were held in different locations around the UK for many years and were fabulously well attended.
April 2008 - The Crystal Lodge is created as a sole trader company.
1 Sep 2008 - The Crystal Lodge purchases Nancy Gibbs Collectibles Ltd and becomes a Limited Company called "The Crystal Lodge (London) Ltd".
Mid 2010 - The Crystal Lodge opens its Ebay shop called (not unsurprisingly!) "thecrystallodge". Our Ebay store can be found at: http://stores.ebay.co.uk/thecrystallodge.
Please be advised that because of seller fees which are constantly increasing on Ebay, the vast majority of our items are cheaper direct from our website, plus we have over 3 times more products available from our webshop than we have via Ebay. Overseas clients also benefit from our flat rate postage rates, which do not apply to Ebay purchases.
1 Sep 2010 - The Crystal Lodge purchases Crystal Exchange Ltd.
12 March 2012 - The Crystal Lodge joins Facebook, our page can be found at www.facebook.com/thecrystallodge, or by visiting the panel on the left hand side of this website.
The products we stock
Because of the wide-range of retired and discontinued Swarovski products, we cannot hold stock of all of them for immediate despatch, but nonetheless, we do stock a vast range. We display information and photographs about the most popular items in addition to those in stock to allow collectors to familiarise themselves with these pieces and learn more about the retired Swarovski crystal products.
If the item that a collector wants is up on the website, but not in stock, there is the option to “express an interest” in it, and we will look for it for you. If there is a particular retired crystal animal or object, perhaps something more rare which isn’t shown, you can send us the details about the item and we will seek it out for you.
We have taken the decision not to stock “currently available” Swarovski items. That is, those Swarovski crystal figurines and objects which are still available to purchase from Swarovski themselves either on-line or via one of their own stores or via their network of independent retailers. This is because we recognise that without Swarovski, there would be no Crystal Lodge! We rely on Swarovski to create new designs and then retire/discontinue them in order for our company to work. If we were to stock current items which we buy in via collections from people and then we offered them at a rate below the recommended retail price (RRP) which is the price at which Swarovski retailers sell them, then we would be undercutting the very company we rely on in order for us to operate our secondary market crystal company. For this reason, we have decided to either not purchase current pieces within collections, or to hold onto any current pieces which we buy as part of collections until they retire, and only then list them as stock once they have officially retired.
In particular, we are feel very proud and honoured to be the only secondary market crystal company who Swarovski UK are happy to recommend to their clients who are seeking to buy or sell retired pieces. So, we would never compete with them in the primary market. However, a "gallery" feature was something that clients have been requesting for some time, and we decided it would be a good idea to make this available.
We will gradually be adding current products to our website in a special area called "Current Crystal Gallery" which is in the miscellaneous area of the shop, so that you can see all the current and retired products in one place - after many requests from collectors who want to be able to look at everything in one place! We make it very clear in listing those "primary" market products that they are not available for sale here, and are only there for information and will become available once retired from the official Swarovski programme. All the stock levels and pricing for the current pieces are set to zero, and we will not accept "express an interest" requests for them.
We may, from time to time, offer non-perfect items. These items will be items which are no longer repairable by Swarovski. These will be supplied in plain boxes, not Swarovski boxes. The grade of imperfection will be stated as A, B, C or D, where A is virtually unnoticeable, and D has deep chips and/or scratches.
The Crystal Lodge will only stock items which Swarovski have produced, or items on which they have collaborated. We will not be stocking crystal products from other companies who simply use Swarovski stones in their manufacturing process, so we not be stocking, or indeed buying, items like Arribas or Oliver Weber jewelled pieces.
The only items we sell which are not manufactured by Swarovski will be items of display material which we will be specially commissioning ourselves for you to purchase to enhance your collections.
Insurance valuations can now be found by visiting the "insurance" tab, where you can download an Excel spreadsheet containing details of mainstream retired and current Swarovski crystal, again, this is limited to items which were produced and sold by Swarovski themselves. More information and guidance notes can be found under the "insurance" tab.
If you have to make an insurance claim and would like us to prepare a document for your insurance company detailing replacement values for lost or broken Swarovski crystal items, and need expert advise and answers to any questions your insurance company might have about retired Swarovski crystal, we are happy to do this. However, in order for us to undertake this time-consuming work, we need to avoid situations where clients have their claims settled thanks to our hard work but then keep the money and don’t buy replacement crystal! Insurance valuations can only be provided to UK clients.
We really hope you enjoy your shopping experience at The Crystal Lodge. We are collectors ourselves and we think we know what collectors want from the secondary market. We think we’ve got it right, but we are always willing to listen! Customer feedback is of paramount importance to us. So, please drop us a line if you think we have got it right or indeed wrong, or if you have any ideas for display items etc that you would like us to find and stock. Our display range continues to expand and we haven't finished looking for even more potential items yet!
So that's a very quick overview of the company.
We are really looking forward to working with all of you!
Thank you for visiting our website.
With very best wishes,
Alison and The Crystal Lodge team