By  on December 22, 2008

Swarovski is known for partnering with leaders in design, art and fashion, but the firm’s next collaboration is with its customer.

The Austrian firm’s loose-crystal division, Swarovski Crystallized, is launching a retail concept bowing in New York’s SoHo neighborhood this spring. The Swarovski Crystallized Store and Lounge will enable customers to create their own jewelry through an interactive design process and view the work of current fashion jewelry designers.

“Our true origin of collaboration is one of the greatest in the world,” said Markus Lampe, senior vice president of marketing for Crystallized Swarovski Elements. “We’ve worked with fashion and jewelry designers and have a strong link to the world’s best designers. But when we looked back into that strength and planned for the future, we felt the consumer was not experiencing those integral facets to our brand. Our current retail concept offers jewelry designs, but we felt there’s a lot more we can do in addition to involve our customers.”

Inside the store, shoppers are encouraged to sketch their own jewelry concepts either on sketch pads or laptops, or weave through inspiration books of existing Swarovski designs. Consultants are on hand to assist those who opt to create custom jewelry that will ship to customers’ homes within two weeks. The store offers access to more than 2,000 crystals in a range of colors, cuts and shapes, as well as silver- or gold-plated cords on which guests mount their designs. Shoppers can also buy a Swarovski ready-to-wear design.

Prices at the Swarovski Crystallized store depend on the design. A single crystal on a cord can retail at around $60, while a piece that involves a number of faceted crystals can cost $600. An exhibition and lounge space adjoins the store and features work by jewelers such as Kenneth Jay Lane and Janis Savitt.

“We are always supporting young designers with creative potential. It is in the DNA of the brand,” said Lampe. “We will exhibit design pieces in our lounge so consumers can experience the kind of collaboration we stand for and enjoy — outstanding designs by outstanding people. The space will also offer a platform for design schools or classes working on a project. It will be an open, creative space for temporary exhibits.”

While the firm does not have major rollout plans, another Swarovski Crystallized Store and Lounge will open in Shanghai this spring.

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