What’s the Difference Between AB and Non-AB Rhinestones?

What’s the Difference Between AB and Non-AB Rhinestones?

Posted by Rhinestones Unlimited on Dec 15th 2022

While searching for rhinestones, you keep coming across an unfamiliar term—AB. What does AB stand for? And what's the difference between AB and non-AB rhinestones? Does it matter which kind you buy? To help you choose the best rhinestones for your next project, we explain what you need to know about AB stones below.

What Are AB Rhinestones?

Before we compare AB vs. non-AB rhinestones, it helps to understand what the abbreviation AB means. AB is short for Aurora Borealis, which you may recognize as the official name of the Northern Lights, the natural light phenomenon that Nordic countries like Finland, Sweden, and Norway are famous for. The term was first used as a rhinestone color in 1956 by Swarovski, who used it to describe a type of shimmering similar to the Northern lights with a array of soft hues; ethereal rhinestones that have a thin vacuum coat on top.

When applied to crystal clear or light-colored rhinestones, this AB coating provides a soft, subtle, luminescent effect, but when applied to dark-colored rhinestones, the luxurious AB effect stands front and center. One thing to be aware of with AB rhinestones is that while the coating normally accentuates the base color of the stone, it can make many dark rhinestones appear as blue rhinestones and look identical. 

The heavier the AB coating, the less of the under color you will see.  Our LUX Austrian Crystal and Priceless Crystal rhinestones have a traditional and more heavy AB coating. Our popular MAXIMA Crystals by Preciosa have a lighter "Shimmer AB" coating that allows more of the under color to shine through.  The best advice when comparing all of these colors is to pick up our color sample cards and compare the difference between brands and AB v. Shimmer AB for yourself.  

The AB effect is fluid and changes according to its surroundings. AB rhinestones look different depending on the color of the costume they're glued to and the lighting they’re worn or photographed in.

What Are Non-AB Stones?

A non-AB rhinestone is any rhinestone that doesn't have an AB coating. AB stones take on the color of the fabric they're glued to and the stones surrounding them. When used in combination with non-AB stones, AB stones can add depth and movement to a costume. Non-AB rhinestones tend to have a more true hue and are preferred when matching birthstone or team colors; coach may not appreciate the AB coating changing the hue of your favorite team colors!

What's the Difference Between Them?

Now that you know what AB means, you probably want to know what the difference between AB and non-AB rhinestones is!

Neither type is better than the other. They both have their pros and cons. The right choice all comes down to what your needs are. If you want your costume to be a particular true color, non-AB rhinestones will serve you best. But if you want to give a costume a dimensional, radiant, rainbow-like elegance, give AB (or a mixture) a go!

Whether you want AB rhinestones, non-AB rhinestones, or a mix of both, you can find them here at Rhinestones Unlimited. We carry a large variety of stunning, high-quality rhinestones from trusted brands like LUX Austrian Crystal®, MAXIMA Crystals by Preciosa®, Priceless Crystals™, and Starcut Crystals™.