History of the rhinestone

Rhinestones which are also known as diamantes or paste date back as far as the thirteenth century where they were first made from Czechoslovakian or Bohemian hand blown glass. The term rhinestone came along later, when rock crystals were discovered in and around the shores of the river Rhine in Austria. These rock crystals could be cut and moulded to produce beautiful imitation diamonds and are what todays rhinestone shape and look are based on. Unlike todays rhinestones, rock crystals do not require any kind of backing to produce the sparkle they are so desired for. The crystals themselves have tiny imperfections within which bounce around the light to create their dazzling effect. Because of the popularity of these natural crystals resources soon became scarce so jewellers sought techniques to create artificial gemstones that duplicate the look of rhinestones.


In the later half of the 18th century French Jeweller Georg Friedrich Strass discovered that by coating the back of glass crystals with metal they would produce an effect much like rock crystals or diamonds. The first crystals had a metal foil glued to the backs of them, which was later substituted with a metal coating which gave a mirror like effect. The mirror backing forced a reflection back through the crystal and gave a dazzling sparkle like a diamond when in contact with light. These imitation gemstones became extremely popular which is why even today many people throughout Europe still refer to rhinestones as Strass.


The next step in the evolution of rhinestones came in the 19th century when Daniel Swarovski developed and patented a technique for precision glass cutting and polishing. With this new technology Swarovski were able to mass produce extremely high quality crystal glass rhinestones that have a much higher lead content than other rhinestones. This addition of lead increases the crystals refraction index which in turn enhances the crystals sparkle much more than conventional glass rhinestones. Swarovski also patented their Xilion Rose 2028 Cut in 2004 which comprises of a 14 facet design that was later revised in the beginning of 2011. Swarovski modified the 2028 in favour of the new 2058 which has a smaller table and higher profile which once again improved the sparkle of their product. Today Swarovski rhinestones are regarded as the finest in the world and as such are used by many of the worlds top fashion designers for accessorising their clothing lines.


Types of rhinestone

Swarovski produce three types of rhinestone:

1. Flat back rhinestones: These are available as foiled or un-foiled, the un-foiled are often used for setting into jewellery pieces where it’s desirable for the light to be able to pass through the crystal. The foil backed crystals are the most popular kind and can be applied to just about anything with a little adhesive and some imagination.

2. Hotfix rhinestones: Are just like the foil backed rhinestones with a ready applied adhesive backing, they can be applied with heat either from a hotfix applicator or an iron with the steam turned off.

3. Sew on rhinestones: These look much the same as flat back rhinestones but with a hole each side of the crystal. They can be stitched into footwear or clothing and are easier to remove than rhinestones which have been glued into place.

Rhinestone effects

The two most popular rhinestones colours are the clear crystal and crystal AB which Swarovski, Preciosa and other rhinestone manufacturers offer along with a wide range of colours and special effects. The crystal AB or Aurora Borealis coating gives the rhinestone a rainbow effect which is available in both clear crystal and a selection of colours. Where the AB colour is applied to a colour crystal the results can differ greatly, to achieve this effect a special metallic chemical coating is applied to the exterior of the crystals. AB crystals are often seen on dance costumes or costumes worn by professional skaters in competitions and can also work perfectly alongside clear crystal rhinestones on wedding dresses.


Post time: 06-29-2017