Welcome to the second Crystal Lodge Newsletter of 2015!

Crystal Lodge news
We’ve been busy behind the scenes again! As the more perceptive of you may have noticed, our new Reference gallery is now fully operational. We hope you enjoy using this new format, which is far more comprehensive and up to date, not to mention more professional looking than the old reference guides! We also took the opportunity to refresh the shop area of the website. It took several months to set up, but the new reference gallery will enable us to update information as it is received, rather than updating annually. From the client perspective, the gallery will make searches to identify items or find “families” of items much easier as the results appear in photographic format, not in a text list, as per website/web shop searches.

Our “country” list continues to expand, and as at May 2015, these are the countries we have sent items to (since the beginning of 2010):
Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan Republic, Belgium, Bulgaria, Brazil, Canada, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Gran Canaria, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland (Republic of), Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kingdom of Bahrain, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Majorca / Mallorca, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, Uruguay and USA. Not forgetting that we also have clients in all 4 countries of the UK, including the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and the Highlands and Islands!

We have now sent out over 7,850 orders, according to our sequential invoice numbering system (which started from invoice one back in 1999). No wonder we get through so much packaging material! Despite another Royal Mail price increase earlier this year, we have maintained our policy of offering free postage to UK clients and have absorbed the increase in overseas postage rates to keep our flat rate shipping charges for European and international clients unchanged for another year.

In attempt to make some space in the stock room for a limited period, we are running some special offers and clearance lines on the website, featuring various product lines.

Swarovski news

Many of you have expressed dismay that your independent retailers were told earlier this year they would no longer be allowed to stock Swarovski. Apparently the change is as a consequence of Swarovski’s strategy for their brand identity going forward.

Did you know that Swarovski used to have their own store in Bond Street back in the 1980s? I was going through some paperwork the other day and found an old photo of the original Swarovski store. It was at Number 9 Old Bond Street and called the “Silver Crystal Suite”. It appeared to close around the time that Swarovski embarked on a process of setting up in-store concessions, linking in with many department stores, independent retailers and high street chains. Not a huge surprise that it closed as the rent there must have been absolutely extortionate even back then as Old and New Bond Street consistently appear on the Top 10 most expensive retail locations in the world!

Talking of expensive locations, back in the 1980s, I was working in Berkeley Square (in the heart of London’s Mayfair) and The Silver Crystal Suite was just a short walk away. It was very posh and you had to ring the bell to be allowed in. Thankfully I was never turned away! There were cabinets full of all the old paperweights, candleholders and my favourite – the early members of the animal range. I recall also seeing many of the early pieces of jewellery (which we tend to refer to as the block SC jewellery). Purchases and the hand written receipt would be placed into a carrier bag which had the SC logo and store details on. Memories!

Things have certainly gone full circle with Swarovski back at the forefront of retailing their own products.

Cleaning your crystal

With spring cleaning season in full swing, we have been asked for tips on how best to clean crystal. Here is an updated version of the article which featured in our old style paper Newsletters a few years ago.

I have heard of many different ways to clean crystal and tried most of them all, except the dishwasher – which I definitely wouldn’t even attempt, let alone recommend! I only have to look at my wine glasses (hic!) to know that this is definitely not a good idea,

Gloves or no gloves?
Some people prefer to wear gloves, others hate them. I have to say I am not that keen on them as I find they can be slippery and also sometimes get caught up in things like the seal’s whiskers and pull them off. Just to be awkward I sometimes just wear one during the final stages of cleaning! That way I feel I can handle crystal safely in the ungloved hand, but also use the gloved hand to wipe off any fingerprints, giving me the best of both worlds.

To wash or not to wash?
You can, of course, clean your crystal by just wiping it with a cloth or gloves without washing it, but this can scratch the crystal if the pieces are very dusty. If you need to wash them, then the trick is not to soak them, and only immerse them in water for the briefest possible time.

What not to wash
I have 2 favoured methods of washing crystal – all this advice is for figurines only – and definitely not for your Swarovski jewellery, which should not be allowed to come into contact with liquid - ever! Don’t follow this advice for crystal mesh items or for things like the jewelled, Myriad or Pointiage pieces either. Talking of jewellery, take your rings off! If your crystal items hit your rings, it can leave an impact mark, particularly on facet joins. Also remove any fabric embellishments from your pieces before cleaning.

Method One
This requires 2 bowls or buckets of warm-ish water, one with a small amount of Stergene or Fairy (original) liquid in it, and the other with just clear water. You can, for extra security, place a towel at the bottom of each bowl just in case a piece of crystal should fall out of your hands as this will ensure a safer landing.

Holding one piece of crystal at a time – never, ever, handle more than one piece at a time – dip the crystal (not letting go at any time) into the soapy water and gently shake it around a little, where possible holding your free hand slightly below the piece. Remove from the water as soon as you can, and dip the piece straight into the non-soapy water and follow the same process.

To dry the crystal, sit it on trays covered with kitchen towels and allow it to dry naturally. Some people use a hairdryer set on a cool setting but there is a danger that this will knock the pieces over, or if it gets too hot, you risk weakening the glue joins. So, it is best to just leave them somewhere out of harm’s way, and definitely out of the reach of pets, children and any strong draughts.

Method Two
My preferred method lessens the amount of time the crystal (and glue) is in contact with water, which has to be a good thing. This method is also much easier when working with larger pieces, but works equally well on the smaller ones.

For this you need to fill 2 plastic spray bottles (the type used for hairdressing or gardening) – one with soapy water (as above), one with clear water and spray the crystal rather than immersing it. Stand the crystal somewhere safe where it won’t fall over, for example in a towel lined empty washing up bowl. Place your free hand behind the piece, just in case the impact of the spray makes it unsteady. Spray it with the soapy water, let that run down the piece for a few seconds, then spray with the clear water, allow the piece to dry on kitchen towels, as before. Sometimes this method can be rather embarrassing as if you haven’t cleaned the crystal for a while, once you spray the soapy water on the piece, you can see the (now) dirty water running down the crystal piece!

Hints and tips
When throwing the water away - pour it gently through a sieve so that should anything have become detached during the process, it will be caught in the sieve rather than being lost forever.

To clean inaccessible areas such as in between the spines of your hedgehogs, you can use either the Swarovski cleaning kit which has a non-metal handled brush (to prevent scratches) or alternatively, use a great product called “the mushroom brush” from Lakeland, which is very soft and also doesn’t scratch, or try an old blusher brush. Any water marks (or fingerprints) can be wiped away at the end of the process with gloves, a lint-free cleaning cloth or a soft white duster (again Lakeland sell these!)

If you use distilled water instead of tap or mineral water, this will prevent watermarks occurring.

And finally …

Look out for lots of new releases from Swarovski in July/August, some fabulous animals, birds and flowers. Later in the year there will be numerous new Christmas items, both freestanding figurines and hanging ornaments. A really lovely selection of goodies, including the first of the “Design a Mo” competition winning designs will be released, so there is a lot to look forward to.

That’s all the news for now – so until the next time, happy collecting!

Alison and The Crystal Lodge team

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