Rhinestones 101: Choosing a Brand & Quality of Crystal
Posted by Rhinestones Unlimited on Sep 27th 2022
Let's talk rhinestone quality; we carry four high quality brands- one of them is the perfect choice for your crystallized creation!
Rhinestone quality used to vary dramatically between brands, but in recent years the ability to produce a top quality crystal flat back rhinestone has come a long way. Rhinestones Unlimited has always carried four- at one time five!- rhinestone qualities over our 22 years in business. We have been in the front row seats watching the progress and quality improvements in this sparkly industry. At times we have even been in the driver seat developing new colors and giving our expert opinions on faceting changes and new products.
In November 2020, Swarovski actually removed themselves from the loose flat back rhinestone business with the following statement from their C.E.O. Robert Buchbauer: “After years of exuberant expansion, Swarovski needs to refocus and learn that less is more. That means exiting the low-margin wholesale business where cheaper competition from Egypt or China has dented profit” (Mathias/Gretler 2020). Basically, the difference between an Egyptian or Chinese rhinestone has come so far that Swarovski no longer saw a reason to stay in this market. The differentiation was no longer enough to justify such a large difference in price. Huge advancements in manufacturing and the global marketplace has really changed this industry.
To the trained eye there is a difference in quality of facteting and overall sparkle, along with "softer" differentiation in brand reputation, color consistency, quality of materials, etc. The best of the best in all areas of differentiation comes from Europe and the Bohemian region of the Czech Republic. The Preciosa factory is where MAXIMA Crystals by Preciosa and LUX European Crystal are manufactured. To compare the stone quality for yourself, please request your FREE QUALITY SAMPLE CARD.
Rhinestones Unlimited Carries Four Unique Brands:
We are proud to only carry brands that we believe in. Check out our offerings and see which ones speak to you the most. When it comes to buying rhinestones, you want to always take quality into account!
MAXIMA Crystals by Preciosa®
Based in the Czech Republic, MAXIMA Crystals by Preciosa rhinestones are made with the highest quality crystal and feature 16 precision cut facets. Preciosa may be the oldest manufacturer of rhinestones in existence (and employed Daniel Swarovski before he broke off to create his own empire). If you’re looking for the best replacement for Swarovski, you’ve found it! LEARN MORE
SHOP MAXIMA CRYSTALS BY PRECIOSA
LUX European Crystal™
We’ve carried this customer favorite for ages, and it’s not surprising why it remains in style. With an array of gorgeous colors and a total of 12 facets, this European brand sparkles and shines for all types of projects. LUX European Crystal is made in the Preciosa factories so you can feel confident that these beautiful crystals come from a manufacturer with reputable business practices and a top quality reputation. Fun fact: they used to be produced in the Swarovski factories in Austria.
A new addition to our line up, this crystal was written in the stars and exceeds expectations! Every act and deed of goodness brightens the sky and we believe the Starcut Crystal™ will bring you light and reflection with faceting inspired by the brilliant stars in the night sky. The desirable 16 faceted 2088 star cut provides the signature look of the Starcut Crystal round flat back rhinestones.
Meet “the most cost-effective crystal on the market!” Manufactured in Asia, PriceLess crystals are a high-quality crystal that are laser cut from a single piece of crystal and feature 10 facets. For the quality offered, PriceLess stones are very moderately priced.
How Do I Know the Difference Between Crystal Brands?
Great question! Now, the following may border on opinion, but they are based on fact. (That could segue into a philosophical conversation- “But what is fact, really?” Jemm, close that door, quick!) I tried to keep the facts unbiased when clarifying the qualities up there, but I’ve learned some things for myself:
- More facets mean more movement of light within the stones. I interpret this as subtle attention-grabbers, dazzle, glitter, gilding. In acoustic terms, the crescendo and decrescendo of a symphony of light—you can almost see the path of moving prisms.
- Less cuts in the surface of the stone mean that the light is not interrupted- reflections off of the mirrored backing are whole. The larger surface areas create more of a flash, a zing, a staccato syncopation, like a flashlight in a mirror instead of a setting sun on the surface of the water. This idea can be helpful when choosing a rhinestone quality for your project. Your red carpet dress is very elegant, and you need a stone that enhances the piece, but does not detract from it. Or your dance costume calls for something a little more dynamic under the lights, but not too flashy. Or maybe your daughter’s tee shirt needs just a little something to really make the design pop... You get the idea.
- History is another key factor. Learning about where these crystals come from and how they are manufactured tells us a lot about their quality. That’s why at Rhinestones Unlimited, we make sure to include detailed information about our brands so you - our loyal customer - can know what’s going on.
- Your budget will also guide you in your decision of quality. I won’t explain that one, as it’s fairly obvious. You know what will work best for you there.
What Rhinestones Sparkle the Most?
This is one of the most common questions we get asked. Our most honest opinion is that MAXIMA Crystals by Preciosa, Starcut Crystal, and LUX Austrian Crystal all sparkle with the same intensity. Priceless Crystal has a very slightly less sparkle. All four of our crystal brands are made of a high quality crystal and have machine cut faceting. Your decision on which brand to go with might be best made based on color or faceting preference. We truly believe you will be happy with the flash and fire with any of our four brands. Buyer beware- there are many cheap, low quality crystals (or even glass or acrylic rhinestones) out there.
What are the Highest Quality Rhinestones?
Traditionally, Swarovski was leaps and bounds ahead of all other manufacturers. However, rhinestone manufacturing techcnology across the globe has improved greatly in the last decade. Preciosa, located in the Bohemian region of the Czech Republic (where Daniel Swarovski got his start) was always the most comparable to the Swarovski quality standard. With the of the MAXIMA crystal by Preciosa, the quality difference between the two brands became negligible, definitely not enough to justify the difference in cost. So, with MAXIMA Crystal by Preciosa now competing at that level and the quality of crystal coming from Asian countries improving so rapidly, Swarovski removed themselves from the worldwide market of crystals for DIY, dance, costuming, and beauty in 2020.
From Swarovski C.E.O. Robert Buchbauer: “After years of exuberant expansion, Swarovski needs to refocus and learn that less is more. That means exiting the low-margin wholesale business where cheaper competition from Egypt or China has dented profit.” (Mathias/Gretler 2020) READ MORE
We would answer this question with the following ranking of quality of our brands.
Highest quality: MAXIMA Crystals by Preciosa
2nd quality (by a close margin!): Starcut Crystal & LUX Austrian Crystal
3rd Quality: Priceless Crystal
The pricing lines up with this quality ranking. We recommend letting the color, faceting, or price help to make your decision. We believe you will be happy with any of our four brands. Make sure you request your free samples or buy a color sample card using the links below and read the answer to the next question with a "buyer beware" recommendation.
How Can You Tell Real Rhinestones?
Everyone has a different definition of what "real" means. We consider "real" to mean high quality crystal with machine cut facets. With this definition, ALL of our four brands are "real"- and, they are beautiful! We believe in our products and we are always excited to share with you these amazing little treasures to make your crystallized creation as beautiful as intended.
Now, for the buyer beware recommendation: We would not recommend buying an unknown brand from an unknown reseller. There are many cheap, cloudy, yellowing, and dull rhinestones out there. Nothing will take the wind out of your creative sails like opening up your rhinestone shipment to find something undesirable. And, even worse- you spend hours upon hours applying crystals to your project and then the crystals fall off (the foiling of the crystal doesn't hold up under pressure), or the beautiful sparkle becomes yellow or cloudy. The higher quality you purchase (see our ranking above), the less likely you will experience this disappointment.
In addition, please be aware that there are many fraudulent resellers claiming to sell Swarovski or Preciosa, but it is really counterfeit goods. Other than old inventory such as our Swarovski Clearance, you will not find any Swarovski loose components/rhinestones in the marketplace. They removed themselves from this business in 2020. READ MORE
When purchasing Preciosa, your should check credentials, such as Authorized Reseller status: Rhinestones Unlimited is a Platinum level Preciosa Authorized Partner. You can also check rhinestone quality for yourself by asking for a quality sample or color chart before purchasing; links for ours are below. Best of luck navigating. We hope you appreciate the information and consider making Rhinestones Unlimited your rhinestone supplier of choice!
Order Your Samples Today
Rhinestones Unlimited continues to search for the highest quality products to fit all budgets. If you’re relying on photos to show you the differences between our different manufacturers, checking out our products online is a good start, but is no substitute for the real thing, just as a picture of a hug is not nearly as good as an in-person squeeze. So, dear reader, I encourage you to get your hands on the real thing.
Another great way to see the quality across the color spectrum is to order each of our color sample cards- a customer favorite!
Rhinestones 101 Continued
We know that choosing the brand and quality of rhinestones for your project is only one of the many decisions during the design process for your crystallized creation. Check out our Rhinestones 101 Series, PLAN YOUR PROJECT for help:
1) Choosing a brand & quality of crystal.
2) Deciding what rhinestone size you want.
3) Learning what attachment method is best for your project.
4) Selecting your rhinestone colors.
5) Estimating how many you need to order.
6) Determining which rhinestone glue will work best for you.
Rhinestones Unlimited blog author Jemm Stone is a multifaceted girl navigating our sparkly world with on-point insights. Visit NEWS to follow her thoughts on all things rhinestone-related!