I found this information while visiting the Bead & Button forums last night. Since some of you may not be members of this forum, I thought it might be easier to just post the information that Russ Nobbs of Rings & Things had posted regarding Swarovski Bicones. I've pasted the article below - but basically - in a nutshell - Swarovski is PHASING OUT our beloved bicones in favor of something with more facets. They claim the difference will be negligent, and that we will like the sparkle better. But we 5301 lovers that resist change may not find it so easy to get used to them. So here's the info from Russ - I'm sure the word will be getting around the bead world soon enough, especially with Bead & Button show right around the corner. In fact, it sounds as though you lucky folks that are going to Bead & Button may be able to experience and purchase the new XLION cuts first hand...I am curious about them - but I still LOVE MY BICONES!
Posted by Russ Nobbs in the Bead Talk Forum - Bead and Button May 14 2009:
Swarovski announces New Bicone - Article 5328 to replace 5301
The extraordinarily popular 5301 bicone will soon be replaced by article 5328 in the same size range and depth of colors. (Only the tiny 2.5 mm bicone will remain unchanged.) CRYSTALLIZED™ – Swarovski Elements article 5328 has the XILION upgrade previously seen in a few flat back shapes giving the new bicone more and differently sized facets than the 5301. The XILION cut results in even more brilliance and greater light reflection.
This is a soft roll out for Swarovski. Because of the logistics of replacing 1000's of size and color combinations not everyone will be available at first. Swarovski may have samples at the upcoming Bead and Button show but most dealers will not have stock until June at the earliest. Some dealers may build up deep stocks of 5301 trusting that some customers want to stay with the existing shape. Others may wind 5301 stock down trusting that their customers will be excited to have the new item.
The new 5328 bicone will be available from most sellers at the same price as the current 5301. Swarovski says they are making the copyrighted change to differentiate this from all other products on the market. The increased number of facets enhances the overall appearance of the bead and the rounder belt line results in improved wearing comfort of the finished design. The 2.5mm 5301 will not change because it is not practical to add more facets to the tiny size.Can the 2 beads work together? For most applications, the 5301 and 5328 XILION Bead can be combined, as their dimensions and geometry are complimentary. Some designers may be able to intermix the 2 styles in the same color, others will want to complete projects with existing 5301's.When will this happen? Swarovski plans to start shipping 5328s in June, and have a full transition before the end of the year. Most 5328 items are planned to ship by the end of September 2009.