RHINESTONES ARE IN high demand because of their sparkle and brilliance. They
continue to grace millions of wedding gowns, formal and party dresses, skating and dancing costumes, and countless pieces of costume jewelry.
Most of the world's fine rhinestones are now made in Austria and the Czech Republic. Acrylic rhinestones are also available but they lack the fiery brilliance of the natural stones.
Note: Rhinestones.com carries fine Austrian leaded-glass-crystal rhinestones,
the best available.
Flat-back rhinestones are in the most demand. Their faceted front and foil-covered flat back produce an exceptional brilliance. They are easily attached to fabrics and most surfaces using glue, heat, or metal settings. They are used throughout the clothing and design industry, on accessories, and to decorate everything from finger nails to cell phones.
Rhinestone sizes are specified using a universal "stone size" (ss) scale, ranging in size from ss5 (1.7 to 1.9 millimeters in diameter) to ss48 (10.9 to 11.3 milli-meters).
Rhinestones come in a wide variety of bright sparkling colors. The most popular "color" is Crystal, a clear colorless stone with a diamond-like sparkle. Another popular choice is AB (Aurora Borealis), a coating available on Crystal, and many colors, which has an iridescent, rainbow-like effect.
Glue is good for general purposes. Keep these facts in mind when choosing a glue:
*Choose a fabric glue that is specially designed to bond non-porous items to fabric, and can stand up to gentle washing. [A good example is Gem-Tac glue].
*Avoid any of the "super" glues, hot glue guns, glues containing "acetone", or general purpose glues. They won't stand up to the task.
The "Tiffany" setting is inserted through the back of the fabric and then crimped over the stone. These are available in a range of sizes and lengths (to match fabric thickness).
"Rim" settings work the opposite of the Tiffany setting. They are placed on the front side of the fabric, fitted over the stone, and then inserted through the fabric and crimped.
How many rhinestones are too many?
That depends on your project, but it's usually a lot! Figure on anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand depending on the effect that you're going for. Other times just a few stones will be all you need. Once you calculate how many you're going to need, order extra so you'll have exact replacements if you need to replace a few over time.
A Century of Rhinestones - A brief history:
The traditional rhinestone, named after the Rhine river on the German/Austrian border, is colorless and made from glass, paste, or natural quartz.
In 1775, Frenchman George Frederic Stras came up with the idea of coating a portion of the stone with a metallic powder, which gave the rhinestones a sparkle. Making each stone by hand, he marketed them as "the poor man's diamond". The cost remained high due to the slow production method.
Mass production of rhinestones started in 1892 when Daniel Swarovski, of the famous Swarovski crystal family, received a patent for a machine that automatically cut the stones. This would eventually cause prices to fall into a very affordable range.
By 1895, Swarovski had set up a factory in Austria, and begun production of rhinestones of superior quality and uniformity. He was later joined in the business by his three sons. Many innovations in the production of rhinestones followed.
By the time of Swarovski's death in 1956, the company was (and still is) the largest manufacturer and exporter of rhinestones. The Swarovski rhinestones are prized for their quality and brilliance to this day.