In an era of casual lifestyles, $125 crystal goblets produced by vernerable brands such as Baccarat, Waterford and Tiffany have been hurt severely by $12 stemware from China. Sales of crystal ware declined 4.2% to $710.8 million in 2002 from $740.9 million in 1998, according to trade weekly Home Furnishings News.

But since 1997, sales of Swarovski jewelry, figurines and other products have doubled to about $2 billion last year, according to Mr. Cohen. The company, which has 430 stores world-wide, plans to add 15 Swarovski stores in the U.S. next year, he says.

Now the competition is aping the strategy. Nex year, Waterford Wedgewood plans to announce a crystal tabletop collection designed by a famous, so-far un-named fashion designer, according to Peter Cheyney, spokesman for Waterford Wedgewood USA. "We obviously understand the impact of designer names," Mr. Cheyney says, noting that the company has licensed a popular table-top collection with wedding-gown designer Vera Wang since 2002. "We will do more with designers because there are good business reasons to do it," he says.

French crystal maker Baccarat tried to snare the Rockefeller Center star, but was trumped by Swarovski’s aggressive bid. Baccarat believes Swarovski paid about $1.5 million. Swarovski and Rockefeller Center declined to comment.

Instead, Baccarat scrambled to secure a consolation prize. The lit-up "Baccarat Snowflake" is currently hanging over the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 57thStreet in New York. The company hired actor and fashion icon Sarah Jessica Parker to flip on the switch.

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