Rhinestones 101: Choose Your Rhinestone Color

Rhinestones 101: Choose Your Rhinestone Color

Posted by Rhinestones Unlimited on Sep 26th 2022

Whether you are just starting your first rhinestone project or have jazzed up your own stuff for years, learning about your different options can help you strengthen your arsenal of sparkle. Let’s dive in!


Aha, now comes the fun part! Color is undoubtedly one of the most significant (and exciting!) design elements.

The real thing is better than the photo, so we recommend purchasing our color sample cards. With a transparent acetate sheet, you can slip fabric or your project material underneath and get a realistic look at how a rhinestone color complements your project.


Different manufacturers turn out slightly different products, even if they share the same name. Take one of our local Minnesota favorites: Chicken and Wild Rice soup. Each kitchen turns out its own recipe, and yet, somehow, it’s always good—one of the few truths in life. Just as each palate is unique, each beholder has their own idea of beauty.

I will attempt to outline a few consistencies across manufacturers to help you on your rhinestone path!

Crystal (Clear) Rhinestones

Crystal RhinestonesThe standard “color” that you will find amongst all manufacturers is clear: simply and beautifully named “Crystal.” The color Crystal is not to be confused with the material crystal.  You will sometimes see this beautiful diamond, clear and silvery shade called Crystal (Clear) or simply “Clear.” We sometimes hear customers refer to this color as silver because the clear crystal with the silver backing gives it a brilliant, light silver appearance.

Interesting fact: Some older crystal products are referred to as “leaded crystal.” Crystal used to be made with glass and added lead. This process changes the atomic makeup of the material, allowing streaming light to come out as prisms. Today, the modernized process eliminates lead in rhinestone products in keeping with European and U.S. lead compliance laws.  

Often we get asked “What color has the most sparkle?” Or “What rhinestone is the most blingy?”  Really, all the colors within a specified brand sparkle in a similar way so it is subjective.  However, if we must choose one color that sparkles the most, it would probably be crystal. Or, Crystal AB.  


Crystal Aurora Borealis (AB) Rhinestones

Crystal AB Rhinestone

Crystal Aurora Borealis (aka. Crystal AB), along with Crystal, are our most popular rhinestone colors.

Named after the Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis rhinestones refer to that phenomenon in the sky whose ever-changing ripples of blues, greens, and violet reds create a dazzling charged display on the horizon. Like its namesake, rhinestones with an AB coating reflect the colors around it.

Crystal AB rhinestones generally have a translucent iridescence about them compared to a standard Crystal stone. This coating can be placed on top of crystal-clear rhinestones or any standard color where the actual crystal material is colored. Its appearance changes subtly depending on the surface it sits on and the angle through which you view it.

Want to switch it up? Our popular Crystal AB Unfoiled is a crystal-clear stone with no silver foiling and an AB coating. Unfoiled options allow the color of your project’s material to show through.


Standard Colors

Standard Colors

When the actual crystal material is colored, and there is no coating added to the top of the crystal, these are called “standard colors.” These color names appear across most all rhinestone brands and usually include all birth stone colors.  These colors are also the most popular for matching your favorite team colors because of their true hue.   Here are some of our most popular standard colors:

  • Light Siam Red
  • Sapphire Blue 
  • Emerald Green
  • Amethyst Purple
  • Jet Black

These standard colors are often inspired and named using precious or semi-precious stone names.

Coated Color

Coated Colors have a special finish, or “coating”, on top of the stone. Coatings can be placed on top of crystal (clear) rhinestones (crystal coated) or standard color (color coated) rhinestones. When a crystal (clear) rhinestone is coated either on top or sealed underneath between the crystal and the foil backing, the rhinestone sparkles with a special effect. These colors are referred to as “special effect colors.” Coatings include:

  • Aurora Borealis (AB) & Shimmer AB
  • Metallic
  • Special Effect Crystal Coated
Each of these three beautiful types of coatings deserves a shout out.  Read more about these popular color varieties. 

Aurora Borealis (AB) & Shimmer AB Rhinestones

AB & Shimmer AB Rhinestones

The traditional Aurora Borealis (AB) coating that coats the most popular Crystal AB, also presents itself beautifully atop standard colors. In practice, any coating can be placed on any standard color or crystal (clear) rhinestones. We have carried almost all options in our 20+ years! With the help of Swarovski and Preciosa, we have narrowed the vast possibilities down to the best color/coating combinations which fill our shelves.


Shimmer was a coating introduced by Swarovski a couple years before they left the loose components market. It was a lighter version of aurora borealis. Preciosa’s MAXIMA AB (different from their more traditional Viva12 AB coating) is a popular option with the same lighter AB coated look, so we refer to the AB coating on MAXIMA Crystal by Preciosa as Shimmer AB to not confuse this beautiful shade with the traditional heavier AB coating.  Our range of shimmer ab colors are stunning and among our most popular products.


Metallic Rhinestones

Metallic RhinestonesMetallic coatings are coatings placed on top of Crystal and, in some cases, jet black. A few of our favorite selections include:

  • Aurum
  • Hematite
  • Labrador/Comet Argent Light*
  • Capri Gold/Rose Gold*
  • Starlight Gold/Metallic Light Gold*

*MAXIMA Crystals by Preciosa/Swarovski’s names, respectively


Aurum is pretty unique and deserves a special shout-out. Aurum is the Latin word for “gold” and the inspiration for the mineral abbreviation “AU” on the Table of Elements - science nerds, rejoice! Aurum rhinestones, coated in a thin layer of real gold (24 carats on Swarovski and MAXIMA Crystals by Preciosa), are, in my opinion, quite extraordinary. On the whole, Aurum rhinestones will hold the high-end price point throughout the categories; Crystal, the low end.


Special Effect Crystal Coated Rhinestones

Special Effect Crystal Coated Rhinestones

Specialty Crystal Coatings are coatings placed on top or one the backside of crystal (clear) rhinestones which produce a specialty color unlike any color that can be created by colorizing the actual crystal glass material. A few of our favorite selections include:

  • Volcano
  • Vitrail Light
  • Vitrail Medium
  • Neons/Electrics*
  • Sunrise/Metallic Sunshine*
  • Nightfall/Graphite*

*MAXIMA Crystals by Preciosa/Swarovski’s names, respectively

We’re Here to Help!

Not in the area, and you just need to compare between, say, Light Siam, Siam, Red Velvet, and Red Flame? Make sure to check out our COLOR SAMPLE CARDS. Remember, color is a personal experience—we can take wondrous pleasure in it. You really cannot go wrong! This is why this part of the design process is the most fun.

Still nervous and want our recommendation? We’re here to help you find the shades of joy in every project.

-xo- Jemm

Rhinestones Unlimited blog author Jemm Stone is a multifaceted girl navigating our sparkly world with on-point insights. Visit to follow her thoughts as she highlights design trends, turns the spotlight on industry influencers, and breaks down how-to tips like light through a crystal prism.

Rhinestones Unlimited Has All of the Crystals, Tips & Tricks You'll Need!

Plan Your Project

Thank you for following along on today’s lesson! Choosing your color palette and rhinestone colors is only one step in the design process.

Check out our Rhinestones 101 Series, PLAN YOUR PROJECT for help:

1) Choosing between rhinestone brands & quality.

2) Figuring out what rhinestone size to use.

3) Deciding what type of rhinestone and attachment method is best for your project.

4) Selecting your rhinestone colors.

5) Estimating how many rhinestones you need to order.

6) Determining which rhinestone glue will work best for you.