Everything you need to know about Real v. Artificial Rhinestones
Whether you’re a jewelry fanatic or an occasional craft enthusiast, there’s no denying that rhinestones bring a certain je ne sais quoi to any piece. Whether you’re using them for fashion or decoration, these dazzlers always add a wow factor and exquisite sparkle. But how much do you know about what genuine rhinestones are actually made of? Let’s explore the secrets behind true rhinestone artistry together! In this blog, we’ll uncover everything you need to know about these shiny little gems.
The Original Rhinestones
Originally, jewelers cut rhinestones from rock crystals collected from the Rhine River in Central Europe. These cut and faceted diamond imitations were the original rhinestones. They were wildly popular back in the day, so the demand for them was greater than the availability of natural crystals. While rock crystal rhinestones are genuine by all definitions of the word, it’s very difficult to find them today.
The Switch from Rock Crystal to Crystal Glass
To recreate and improve upon the beauty of rock crystal from the Rhine river, rhinestone manufacturers in the glass making Bohemian region of the Czech Republic, and then later, Daniel Swarovski, started using special varieties of leaded glass, called crystal glass, with their proven precision glass cutting techniques. Crystal glass rhinestones, usually from the Czech Republic or Austria, where Daniel Swarovski moved to get away from his competitors. These European factories, as opposed to the production in China, is typically what people mean when they refer to “genuine” rhinestones. Since Swarovski removed themselves from the rhinestones component business, we are seeing all sorts of new claims such as "European branded crystal that is globally sourced", or a.k.a. "made in China". So friends, if you are reading this article, now you know how to navigate to the best crystal available and make an informed purchase.
Here is a good explanation from Preciosa Component Frequently Asked Questions:
Today “Crystal” has become synonymous with a sparkling, top quality, man-made produce. Though quartz is the second most abundant mineral on earth, clear quartz is usually only found in mountainous regions. The cost of finding and extracting it is high. As a result, in ancient times, people started to attemptto create a synthetic material with similar characteristics and properties. This led to the creation of glass, and then “crystal” as we know it today. In the 16th century the art of man-made crystal and glassmaking came to the Czech Republic (Bohemia), a country rich in natural resources (sand, wood and water). We have been making glass in the Crystal Valley ever since.
What is Crystal? Is it a Raw Material?
The word “crystal” comes from the ancient Greek word for “ice”, and is characterized by purity, transparency and lack of color. When a naturally colorless, pure and transparent mineral made of mono-crystals of silica (quartz) was discovered, it was so reminiscent of ice, that it was named after it. This pristine, much sought-after mineral later became known as rock crystal or clear quartz.
Genuine Rhinestones vs. Artificial Rhinestones
Today, you can find rhinestones made from a range of materials, from the highest quality crystal glass to the most inexpense plastic/acrylic “jelly” material. In addition to the material the rhinestone is made of, the amount of flash and sparkle will depend on whether the rhinestone is made in a mold with as few as 8 facets or the facets are cut with a machine with up to 16 facets such as the 2088 rhinestone cut of our Starcut Crystal. Quality control within the factory makes a difference too- are the facets precisely the same size, are all of the rhinestones the same height and do they have the same “table” size? The table is the flat part on the top of the rhinestone. Foiling or the quality of adhesive used on a hotfix rhinestone can also vary greatly in quality. Artificial rhinestones have their uses- namely that they’re inexpensive and found in most kid aisles at your local craft store. However, genuine high-quality rhinestones from reputable factories such as the Preciosa factory in the Bohemian glass region of the Czech Republic, are by far the superior option in terms of luster and longevity.
High quality crystal glass rhinestones will not dull, yellow, or blacken over time, and they offer a dazzlingly bright sparkle that other materials can’t replicate. What’s more, crystal glass rhinestones are highly resistant to UV radiation, so they won’t fade or discolor when exposed to sunlight. That means you’ll get many years of enjoyment out of your crystal glass rhinestones, making them a wise investment for anyone who loves to dazzle.
More from Preciosa:
Why is “Czech Crystal” so Famous?
Crystal Valley, located in the northern region of Bohemia in the Czech Republic, grew into an important glassmaking center in the 16th century. Ever since the first kiln was fired up in 1548, the art and tradition of glassmaking has been passed down from generation to generation of skilled craftsmen in the Valley. Both the glassmakers and the crystal they produced soon developed a prestigious reputation throughout the world. Cut and polished Czech Crystal became synonymous with glass that had the highest brilliance and extraordinary optical-aesthetic properties. Today, Preciosa continues this tradition, carrying forward the reputation of its forefathers while developing new techniques and technologies to become a prominent international manufacturer of jewelry stones, beads, and other crystal products.
What is Preciosa Crystal Glass Made From?
Preciosa Crystal Components are made from a compound of the purest silica sand, sodium, potassium carbonate, minium and other materials. These are melted at extreme temperatures, the resulting mixture from which we mould, cut and polish our components. We use only finest raw materials combined with our own cutting-edge Preciosa® Hi-Pure Crystal™ technology, ensuring that our crystal components are unmatched for their optical-aesthetic properties, including more intense fire effects, more frequent scintillation, and higher brightness and brilliance.
What are Preciosa Crystals your Best Choice?
Preciosa uses the purest raw materials including silica sand, sodium, potassium carbonate, minium and other compounds. These, combined with advanced glassmaking technologies and proprietary cutting and polishing techniques ensure that Preciosa Crystal Components possess exceptional optical-aesthetic properties, including superior color consistency, fire effects, scintillation and brilliance. Coming in a large assortment of shapes, colors and sizes, they are also more resilient, making them the ideal choice for fashion and décor designers and manufacturers. Not only does Preciosa deliver top quality crystal, but our flagship brand, MAXIMA, offers premium lead-free crystal that is unrivalled in quality and value, making Preciosa the world leader in the glass industry.
How do I Recognize and Authenticate Preciosa Crystal Components?
Preciosa Crystal Components are always packaged in distinct envelopes and standardized boxes with a number of security features to ensure quick and easy identification. Each package has the Preciosa logo and hologram seal, guaranteeing premium quality brand authenticity.
So, now that you know what genuine rhinestones are actually made of, why not treat yourself and get some for your next craft project? Rhinestones Unlimited is a wholesale rhinestone shop that carries four reputable brands of genuine crystal glass rhinestones from the best factories in Europe and Asia. Whether you want to crystallize a gymnastics costume or add glamour to a ball gown, we have a vast selection of quality rhinestones in every shape, color, and size imaginable.
One more tip! When purchasing less than a full “Factory Pack” of Preciosa Crystals or any other Austrian Crystal brand, only accept professionally branded packaging from a reputable distribution partner such as Rhinestones Unlimited, a Preciosa Platinum Partner. All of our Genuine Preciosa Crystal rhinestones and LUX Austrian Crystal rhinestones are sold in professional branded packaging- never just a ziplock bag with handwritten codes. Accept no less for your project and know what you are getting.