What to Know

Swarovski elements are called "Articles," each with a numeric designation.  At one time, there was a method to the madness - Swarovski simply started at 1 and counted up.  In 1963, the numbering convention was standardized from 1-3 digits to 4 digits, and those items still in production were given a new 4 digit number.  You can make some assumptions based on these numbers (click on the number to go to that page):

Any Art.# 1-950 is VINTAGE (pre-1963)!  (well, 1-999)
1000 series are round rhinestones
  1000 = pointy backs
   1100 = channel stones
   1200 = simple 8-point star faceting
   1300 = fancy 8-point star faceting
2000 series are flatback rhinestones
  2000 = round flatbacks
   2100 = oval flatbacks
   2200 = navette flatbacks
   2300 = tear drop (pear) flatbacks
   2400 = square flatbacks
   2500 = recatngle flatbacks
   2600 = octagon flatbacks
   2700 = largely flower and leaf shapes, but there are others
   2800 = special
3000 series are 1-3 hole buttons or sew-ons
   3000 = 2 hole buttons, with the exception of 3000, which is a 1 hole sequin
   3100 = catch-all
   3200 = 2 hole sew-ons
   3400 = 1 hole square
   3500 = 1 hole rectangle
   3700 = 1 or 2 hole flowers
   3800 = special
4000 series are fancy rhinestones
   4000 = fancy rounds
   4100 = fancy ovals
   4200 = fancy navettes
   4300 = fancy teardrops
   4400 = fancy squares
   4500 = fancy rectangels
   4600 = fancy octagons
   4700 = special, including triangles, keystones, hexagons, gammatics; flowers, stars, etc
   4800 = special, including hearts, bells, fleur-de-lis, etc
5000 series are standard beads (beads are less regimented in their classification)
   5000 = rounds
   5100 = catch-all
   5200 = oval and long beads
   5300 = bicone and spacer beads
   5400 = capsule/bell beads (one end is smaller than the other)
   5500 = Lacrima series and newer many-faceted beads
   5600 = Squares
   5700 = Special
   5800 = PEARLS
   5900 = Large-hole beads
6000 series are pendants (pendants are even less regimented in their classification)
   6000 = round and 3D teardrop pendants
   6100 = oval and 2D teardrop pendants
   6200 = largely comprised of hearts, contains other shapes
   6300 = bicone pendants
   6400 = octagon, rectangle pendants; catch-all
   6500 = animal pendants
   6600 = modern geometric pendants
   6700 = animal and special pendants
   6800 = cross pendants
   6900 = Fantastic Flower pendants
8000 series are Strass pendants
   8000/8100 = octagons
   8300/8400 = rectangles
   8500 = rounds
   8600 = icicle-like drops
   8700 = teadrops
   8800 = special
   8900 = Baroque
   8950-xxx = New series (as early as 2007)
9000 series are ???. There are three, all unfaceted, silver foiled, and white fire opal in color.

There are elements that have 5-, 6-, or 7-digit numbers.  These are generally limited-edition production runs, such as the signed Fantastic Flowers.  It is also common to find high digit numbers in the Component line.


Ever wonder what 6008/4 or 3771/3 means? Here is a quick guide to the meaning of the /x numbers:
(this applies to all series, I've used 'bead')

/1 = Only a part of the bead is cut
/2 = Only the table/s is/are cut
/3 = The bead is uncut but has pressed facets
/4 = Unfaceted, no finish
/5 = Unfaceted, matte finish

In this same vein, Swarovski has started adding letters to Article numbers (c. 2010).
'/A' indicates that the article is in the "Mosaic" colors. The cut of the element is the same.
'/B' indicates that the article is in the "Marbled" colors.  The cut of the element is the same.
'/G' indicates that a portion of the article is frosted. The cut of the element is the same.

There are also codes in the Color/Effect names:

V (ie Crystal CAL V):  The effect is used in reverse.  
Z (ie Vitrail Medium Z):  Only a part of the stone is treated for an effect (256, 4861, 4891 etc)  
B (ie Tanzanite Satin B):  Effects on three sides of a cube shape
2x (most common):  Both sides of the stone/bead are treated with an effect
     

Most packs have the quality marked in the upper right corner.  The quality indicators vary slightly by series but you can expect to find:
-Superior
-R1 (chatons only)
-Special
-Corona
-1st Quality
-Partieware (may be synonymous for 2nd quality; I have a Partieware pack with a giant 2 on it) (rhinestones only)
-UFP - unfaceted products (ie 2190/4)
-FFP - pressed facet products (ie 3771/3)
-TTC - top table cut aka tin cut
Swarovski TTC v. Swarovski MC
TTC indicates that the stone was machine pressed, with the top table cut & polished afterwards.  Also called "Tin-cut." A cheaper production method than MC.  Articles that were tin-cut are clearly marked TTC on the packaging.
MC indicates that the stone was machine cut.  This is the case for most Swarovski elements.