The meaning of bicone!
When you work in a particular field, not matter what type of profession, you find that you develop a kind of lingo or language that you get so used to using that you forget that when you use these words when speaking with people outside your profession they don’t exactly know what you’re talking about. I had to remind myself of this recently when speaking with someone who wanted a custom jewellery design for a family member. I adore Swarovski® crystal so much that part of me assumes that everyone feels the same, even though in reality I know that this is not as likely as I think it should be! The customer wanted something in a particular colour and that is all they really knew. Based on what I was told about the recipient I suggested they opt for Emerald green Xillion bicone crystals in 6mm, since they knew the person would love dark green and nothing too large. I was met with the response "That sounds great, what is it?!”
The enthusiastic part of me was getting carried away with design ideas, colours and shapes and I had to remember that not everyone knows what a bicone crystal is and just because they are fabulous, it doesn’t mean that everyone has come across them. I sent the customer several pictures to illustrate what I meant. Without pictures I suppose I would describe a bicone as a double ended cone or a top to bottom cone shape but that doesn’t do the shape justice whatsoever and I find pictures are far more complementary than the description I would give in words!
In 1961, the industry changing bicone bead was introduced by Swarovski® and would end up as one of the most widely used crystal beads in the jewellery industry. Despite achieving such unparalleled success, Swarovski® still strive to update and progress its products and in 2009 it unveiled the Xillion bead. Overall, the appearance is not that different to the previous bicone bead (article 5301) but Swarovski® made some fantastic improvements on a lovely crystal which didn’t even really require it. Here are some of the key features of the newer Xillion bead: (which rather incorrectly, I cannot seem to get out of the habit of calling a bicone bead!)
The profile of the crystal is more rounded which means that the middle where the two ends of the cones meet is far smoother giving increased wearing comfort
The polished crystal clear central hole provides even more brilliance through the crystal
The number of facets across the face of the crystal has been increased resulting in an increase of 20% in the light reflection with optimal light distribution throughout the crystal. Swarovski® describe the arrangements of the smaller and larger facets as giving a more intense sparkle. Rather than only take the word of Swarovski® (as well as seeing the improvement with your own eyes!) this result was produced in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute (IOF), a renowned German organisation which focuses research in different areas of applied science.
When first looking at the crystal, the changes appear quite subtle but the overall effect is an even more superior quality finish resulting in more light and shine in finished jewellery products.
I personally still refer to the Xillion bead as a bicone bead, partly out of habit and also due to the fact that the amazing Xillion cut was introduced on a number of other crystals aswell as the Xillion bead. There are various flat back crystals, often used for creating earrings, which have this wonderful cut. We use the Xillion rose chatton crystals to create lovely every day stud earrings and the cut is so effective in creating a simple yet so elegant style of earring.
If you already have jewellery containing the original, and now discontinued, 5301 bicone bead then worry not, the old and new look like a marriage made in heaven. They do not stand out as being different even with the subtle improvements and can be combined for the usual beautiful effect you can expect from jewellery containing genuine Swarovski® crystals.
In addition to all of these wonderful features, the original bicone bead and the new Xillion bead (I refer to them both as bicone for reasons I mentioned) are some of the most popular components used to create pieces of crystal jewellery. The Xillion bead is available in all of the colours and special finishes, such as AB and AB 2X, meaning the mixtures of colours for creating jewellery is endless. This gives jewellers like ourselves total creative freedom to create whatever we wish, especially useful if you are working on a theme such as love where you want to use a variety of shades of similar colours for example. The shape and facets of the bicone crystal (oops, I mean Xillion!) mean they sit nicely against each other when creating more intricate designs and this is very useful to maintain the shape of your piece.
Another great feature of the bicone, or Xillion, is their affordability. Some of the more elaborate crystals warrant a higher price due to their particular arrangement of facets, making them more expensive to produce, and overall shape. Swarovski® crystal is world renowned for its superior quality and brilliance and anyone who has seen Swarovski® crystal in person can appreciate this. Some pieces of handcrafted jewellery containing Swarovski® crystal can include some of the more expensive shapes and this, combining with other materials and time for craftsmanship, can mean a deservedly high price tag worthy of the quality. This can mean that pieces of jewellery are sometimes out of reach for some and one of our aims at The Crystal Cove® is for more people to enjoy Swarovski® crystals in the jewellery we create. All of the benefits I mentioned here mean the bicone, or Xillion, is one of our favourite crystal beads to use when creating our pieces and I for one have no idea how Swarovski® could improve on the Xillion bead in the future.