What Is Crystal AB?

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Swarovski crystal AB beads on a black background.
Swarovski crystal AB beads on a black background. (Image: audriusmerfeldas/iStock/Getty Images)

The Austrian company Swarovski is best known for the production of precisely cut, high quality crystal glass beads. Swarovski crystal beads come in many shapes and colors and with a variety of different finishes, such as the Aurora Borealis.

AB History

Swarovski introduced the Aurora Borealis crystal bead in 1956. These special crystals were named after the Northern Lights -- the Aurora Borealis -- because their special coating reflects a multitude of colors. Shortened to AB, the abbreviation appears as a suffix after the name of the bead. “Crystal AB” or “Garnet AB” are two examples.

How They're Made

Through a steam treatment, a special coating is chemically bonded to the outer surface of a crystal bead. While a standard Swarovski crystal already possesses strong reflective properties, a bead with an AB coating acts somewhat like a mirror while reflecting a rainbow of colors. The coating is typically only applied to one side of the crystal so the transparent portion of the bead is still visible.

Types of AB Crystals

The bicone crystal AB bead is the most popular. Colors include, but are not limited to, jet black, hyacinth, aqua, emerald, rose, peridot, fuchsia, jonquil, topaz and velvet.

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