A CENTURY after Bohemian glass-worker Daniel Swarovski patented a crystal-cutting machine, the empire he founded is celebrating a milestone this year. With more than 8,000 employees in 30-plus countries and a turnover of US$1 billion, Swarovski has reason to cheer. The Austrian company is the world's leading manufacturer of quality cut crystals for fashion, jewellery and lighting. To mark the anniversary, it is presenting the world's largest jewellery stone. Weighing 62 kilogrammes, or 300,000 carats, the creation, called the Swarovski Centenar, has 100 facets, one for every year of the centenary. The specimen went on public display this month at the Swarovski World of Crystal in Austria. Swarovski has also produced the world's smallest crystal to mark the centenary. With a diameter of just 0.8 millimetres, its 17 facets can only be appreciated through a magnifying glass. Celebrations are extending to Hong Kong, where Swarovski has been established since 1972. Spokesman Priscilla Choi said: 'Our all-embracing range of crystal products has enjoyed ever-increasing popularity in Asia.' Swarovski has branches in Taipei, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Hong Kong is the group's Far East headquarters and turnover last year was about $550 million, Ms Choi said. Also marking the centenary is a Centenary Swan, only on sale this year. Ms Choi said it represented quality, aesthetic standards and innovation. Another memento of the anniversary is a collection called Crystal Memories, comprising a miniature crystal champagne bucket, two flutes, a present and birthday cake. A testament to the popularity of crystalware is the Swarovski Collectors' Society, which has 200,000 members. A book entitled Swarovski - The Magic of Crystal has also been published this year. Founder Daniel Swarovski was inspired to invent his crystal-cutter by early electric motors. He found buyers for his industrially-cut jewellery stones throughout Europe and the United States, with endless applications and possibilities emerging for the company to diversify into fashion and jewellery - then later chandelier components, optical equipment and road safety products.