What Inspired the Design and Name of the Legendary Silver Crystal?
Discussions about the Legendary Silver Crystal are always an interesting issue because there’s simply so much we don’t know about it, and even what we do know about it changes depending on which season you’re talking about or whether we’re discussing the anime or the manga.
But interestingly enough, there’s actually some more information to be had if we step outside the Sailor Moon universe and take a good hard look at the real world. Like, specifically, where the design for the powered-up flower form of the Legendary Silver Crystal comes from.
That’s right, my friends, today we’re talking about flower power! I hope you stick around.
Now, I don’t know about you, but whenever I hear the words “Legendary Silver Crystal” come up in conversation – which, admittedly, almost never happens – the design that comes to mind for me is the original one in the anime: a sphere shape with hundreds (thousands?) of facets.
When you consider the series as a whole, though, I think the far more iconic form of the Silver Crystal is its flower form, showcased heavily in the Sailor Moon R movie. I mean, the movie was all about flowers, so it kinda makes sense when you think about it.
Before we go looking any further into this, it’s probably a good idea to stop and narrow down what kind of flower we’re talking about here, and why the Silver Crystal was given that shape. I assume not all of us are walking encyclopedias of flowers and their cultural, religious, and spiritual meanings, so it’s probably a safe place to start.
Upon “blooming,” so-to-speak, the Silver Crystal takes on the form of a lotus flower, which is renowned across Asia not just for its beauty, but for the peculiar fact that it blooms out of muddy waters. I hate to beat you over the head with something so obvious, but the symbolism of beauty blossoming from something filthy is, well, pretty powerful.1
The lotus flower also serves as an important symbol in Buddhism:2
[T]he lotus flower represents rebirth, both in a figurative and a literal sense. The rebirth can be a change of ideas, an acceptance of Buddha where there once was none, the dawn after one’s darkest day, a renaissance of beliefs or the ability to see past wrongs. In a literal sense, the meaning of the lotus flower in Buddhism represents rebirth as a reincarnation, such as in the Buddhist religion, when a soul leaves this world in its present form to be reborn in another.
I don’t know about you, but I think that makes it a pretty good choice when it comes to the crystal symbolizing Usagi’s limitless tolerance and love.
But this story wouldn’t be all that exciting if I were just tell you that “hey, it’s a lotus flower, so go home.” What’s even more interesting to me is what real-world product inspired its design.
As I’ve already covered many times in the past, Ms. Takeuchi and the anime production staff often “referenced” (to put it mildly) many places, vehicles, and things from the real world. I mean, even the Crown Arcade is taken – design, name, and all! – from a real-world pachinko parlor.
It turns out that the idea for a crystal lotus flower is no different!
As near as I can tell, our flower-shaped Silver Crystal is based on – or copied – a lotus flower candlestick holder created by famed in-house Swarovski designer, Max Schreck.3
I mean, if that’s not a dead-ringer for the Silver Crystal we see on page/the screen, I don’t know what more I could do to convince you.
As for the date, unfortunately I’m not too sure when this design first came on the market, but some examples I was able to find in vintage collections on eBay had the old SC marking, which was only used between 1976 and 1988,4 which firmly places this product in the market prior to Ms. Takeuchi creating her story.
Speaking of SC, that leads us to a possible answer for the question posed in the title: you see, SC is not, as you’d assume, an abbreviation for Swarovski Crystal. It actually stands for… wait for it… Silver Crystal.
The Swarovski Silver Crystal line debuted in 1976 with a tiny silver crystal mouse designed by our aforementioned friend, Max Schreck. With that, the line continued to grow and expand with other animals, sea creatures, and yes… flowers. The lotus flower candlestick holder is also a part of this silver crystal series.
So what is silver crystal, you’re probably wondering? Well, according to someone far more informed than myself:5
The Swarovski silver crystal line was created by a Swarovski craftsman who was able to capture a silvery shine in the facets of the lead glass crystals. Swarovski Silver Crystals are made using a combination of natural minerals and quartz sand. The crystals are then slowly cooled, which helps avoid stress and imperfections. Swarovski silver crystals have a spectral brilliance that gives them their unique silver color, giving the impression that they are made of real precious metal.
Basically, a “silver crystal” is a special type of lead crystal glass that has been created in such a way as to make it look as if it were made of metal. Not much unlike our Legendary Silver Crystal, I suppose?
There you have it – my take on where the Legendary Silver Crystal gets both its design and name from! While I don’t have any smoking guns, such as admissions from Ms. Takeuchi or the anime production staff, I’d say that I feel feel reasonably confident with this theory not only because of how well the design matches, but the fact that it was also a part of a collection called Silver Crystal.
What’s more, not only Ms. Takeuchi’s relative owned a jewelry store, but as we’ve seen, she herself was also incredibly interested in stones and jewelry. There’s simply no way that she wouldn’t have been familiar with Swarovski and their products.
But obviously I think I’m right, I wouldn’t say it otherwise! What do you think about all this? Hold water, odd coincidence? ChibiUsa came back in time and inspired Mr. Schreck? Let me know!
- Anecdotally and unrelated to anything, yours truly was once described as “like a lotus flower.” I didn’t quite get it at the time, but it is perhaps one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me. ↩
- See The Meaning of the Lotus Flower in Buddhism ↩
- See The Swarovski Designers: Max Schreck ↩
- See The Swarovski Logos ↩
- See Are Swarovski Silver Crystals made of real silver? ↩