Expert advice on watches and jewellery Admired for its transparency and glittering qualities, crystal is an ideal accessory for night and day. Its name derives from the ancient Greek for ice. Some people wear rock crystal - crystal in its natural form - for its supposed healing powers. But most crystals used in fashion and jewellery now are synthetic, thanks in part to Austrian crystal-maker Swarovski. In recent years, crystals have moved to the fashion forefront, with Judith Leiber leading the way in making glistening crystal clutches favoured by celebrities such as Cate Blanchett and Mischa Barton on the red carpet. Prada, Alber Elbaz for Lanvin and Vera Wang are among the many designers who have embellished their creations with crystal. Synthetic crystal comprises sand, potassium carbonate and lead oxide. The higher the lead oxide, the more radiance and shine. Quality crystal has a higher lead content, but there's no international standard for grading crystal, and each brand uses its own method. Coloured crystals are made by adding mineral salts to the basic composition of sand, potassium carbonate and lead oxide. Crystals come in different cuts and shapes. They may appear as drops, briolettes, beads and/or cabochons. They're available in a range of colours, and their versatile properties mean they can be matched with various materials for jewellery, ranging from gold and silver to coral and onyx. Bridget King, jewellery designer and founder of Brigetta, says the baroque theme is big this autumn/winter. 'Fashion jewellery goes for a more embellished and ornate look, with colourful gemstones and crystal stones featured together,' she says. The trend goes well with the romantic shapes - voluminous sleeves and flounced skirts - as seen on the catwalks. Another trend highlighted by King is the Gothic style inspired by the rock-star look, with an emphasis on black and white. Choose clear crystals featured with oxidised silver or brushed gold in necklaces, bangles, earrings and pendants. They are easy to match and can be worn dressed up or down. In terms of colours, go for something bold and bright such as red, black and blue, says Mary Lau, communications manager for consumer goods at Swarovski Greater China. For a soft and feminine look, dangling earrings with crystal drops are a popular choice. Clear crystals match everything, while coloured stones are usually chosen to complement an outfit. Stay away from clothes with loud or floral prints if you are wearing jewellery with a combination of different colours. Chandelier earrings have been popular for a few seasons and are great paired with dresses for the evening, although King has seen many women matching them with jeans and T-shirts during the day. The key is to choose colours that complement your skin tone and outfit, rather than blindly following trends. Lau suggests looking for crystals that are clear, transparent and with no visible inclusions. If the crystal is faceted, examine the facets to see if they are properly cut as it will affect the way that light is reflected. And make sure the surface area is smooth, with no nicks or cracks. Keep your crystal jewellery dry and don't wear it for sports. Clean with a soft, dry cloth and store in a jewellery pouch. Shopping list Baccarat Shop 121, Prince's Building, Central; tel: 2537 2303 Founded in 1764, the French crystal-maker launched its first jewellery collection in 1993. Its red crystal is made with pure gold. Brigetta Lane Crawford, IFC Mall, Central; Lane Crawford, Pacific Place, Admiralty; tel: 2118 2888. For other stockists, contact Bridget King at email@example.com . King's latest collection features delicate pieces with clear and coloured Swarovski crystals. Swarovski Shop 1051, IFC Mall, Central; tel: 2234 7126 Daniel Swarovski patented his precision crystal-cutting technique in 1895. The company has been an industry leader in developing synthetic crystal ever since.