Against all odds, a young Austrian inventor develops a world patent: “Diamonds in Glass“. Sounds like Cinderella? Maybe a little bit, because it is here as well as there the story of work and perseverance.
Let’s start our story of “Diamonds in Glass” about a quarter of a century ago. I, Natascha Schenk, was 27, newly married and the mother of two small children. For many young women, then as now, this was virtually the “end of their career” and the preordained path to a part-time job someplace in something or other.
At the age of 27, I didn’t want to surrender to “fate” quite so easily, so I went to the Entrepreneur Academy. This is a training institution for young entrepreneurs, supported and financed by the official business representation in Austria. In the course of the training, I also met three glassblowers, a fascinating but dying craft.
At the end of the training, the guys gave me a homemade glass keychain. It was a beautiful piece and the beginning of a great idea: The way the sun on the terrace was reflected in the key ring, in the glitter and the rainbow of light refraction – this should be thought of further, this should be refined, this should have a diamond in it.
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend? In this case, only to a limited extent, because now the work and the research began: Do such products already exist, is it even possible to embed a diamond in glass? The latter was a good question: I found out that it doesn’t exist yet, and for good reasons: Glass needs about 1300 degrees Celsius in processing – but diamond (you know: carbon) burns already at 830 degrees Celsius.
A world patent
Let’s spare ourselves the chemical, physical and technical details here: We spent two years – that was me with the help of glassblower friends – trying, tinkering and developing until the company “Diamonds in Glass” was founded in 2005. Then it was done: we encased diamonds in glass – unique worldwide and internationally patented. It was not easy: I worked at night, during the day the children were more important.
The business started with a champagne glass with a diamond embedded in the stem. From this came a small series of drinking glasses, napkin rings and the like. Until 2008 I was able to supply mainly the manufacturers of yachts and similar boats with glasses, then suddenly there was the stock market crash in 2008. Not a good time for a young company dealing with high-end items. (goods, glasswear, parts?)
Core product: The sphere
So a new idea was needed. Not least with the help and inspiration of my husband, Gernot, the sphere came into play: a diamond that floats in the glass sphere as if weightless and visible from all sides; this became our own jewelry collection that went to jewelers all over Austria. To be honest: I didn’t earn much at the time, but the fact that the jewelers and their customers had accepted my idea, and in some cases reacted almost euphorically, encouraged me to continue.
In addition, one must know: I am not a trained jewelry designer and so I began to sell only the heart of my idea – the diamond in the glass ball: The buyers were in turn jewelry manufacturers, who processed my product, then to high-class (precious, expensive, noble) pieces. Since then the sales figures increased and my customers – the jewelry manufacturers – understand my product and give it a new beautiful frame as jewelry every year.
Are there any problems in all this glitter and sparkle? Yes, of course. Currently I’m working with two external glassblowers, which works really well. But that didn’t always work out so well, because it’s not so easy to get a series product off the ground with creative people – and that’s what glassblowers are. We had times when no more than one piece a day went through production. It was and still is a bitter pill to swallow: the order books are full, production lags behind. And like everywhere else, the same is true here: There is a lack of skilled workers, there are simply too few glassblowers, the profession is not very well known.
Since the fall of 2021, Diamonds in Glass has had an international licensing partner in the jewelry sector, so we are on the right track. The idea after the 2008 crash to focus on the core product – the gemstone cast in glass, the ball with the diamond – proved to be spot on. This is because the core product has many applications: an Italian designer used the sphere for shoes, but it can also enhance lamps, fashion, furniture, or simply handrail end pieces in stairwells. In the meantime, however, we have also taken up the original idea of producing glassware and tableware ourselves. After all, it has become easier since my daughter is also on board and works at Diamonds in Glass.
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