Everything You Wanted to Know about Rhinestones
(but Didn't Know Who to Ask)
The word rhinestone means "stone of the rhine",
because the crystal stones are associated with the rhine region
where they were originally created. Rhinestones are
a term used for lead crystal which has been precision-cut
to resemble a jewel. Today, rhinestones are used extensively
in fashion to make jewelry, apparel and accessories. Rhinestone transfers
are used to create a pattern, and then the pattern is transferred to a rhinestone t shirt
, custom rhinestone hoodie
or other garment.
The story of rhinestones
began in Austria in the 1890's when Daniel Swarovski invented
a machine for cutting crystal with a precision and speed that
far surpassed the hand-cutting of local artisans like his
father. It took 9 years to invent the machine,
but when he filed the patent, it began a new era in crystals.
Swarovski is the name of the company founded by Daniel Swarovski
that still produces the highest quality rhinestone products
in the world. The rhinestones produced by the company
have a higher lead content and more precise cutting to produce
a stone that reflects light at precise angles to produce the
greatest reflection. Swarovski crystals are often referred
to as Austrian crystals.
to innovate new processes for improving the brilliance of
its rhinestones. In 2004 the company introduced the Xilion
cut rhinestone, with 14 alternating facets of different sizes
that produce perfect refraction and intense light distribution
throughout the crystal. Only Swarovski rhinestones have
this patented cut, the difference in brilliance is clearly
visible to the naked eye.
Czech, Korean and Acrylic crystals are the most common alternatives.
Czech Machine Cut stones are not much less expensive than
Swarovski and are not yet available in a 14 facet cut, so
why would you bother with them? The Korean and Acrylic
stones are much less expensive than Swarovski, but you get
what you pay for. Lesser quality stones are inconsistent in
their cut, so they vary greatly in terms of the brilliance
of the shine. Some of these stones are made from cut
glass, not crystal lead, so they offer very low light transmission.
Rhinestones can be attached to fabric through several methods, the most common is hot-fix transfer of rhinestones to the fabric. Swarovski has developed a special heat-activated glue that produces a superior bond between the fabric and the rhinestone.