Rhinestone Facts
Frequently Asked Questions about Swarovski Rhinestones

WHERE DOES THE COLOR IN CRYSTAL COME FROM?Crystals are formed by a very slow and controlled heat reduction process. Chemicals used during the process, as opposed to dyes, dictate the color. Different chemicals absorb different wavelengths of visible light. The result? We see the opposite of this color. For example, if the chemical added absorbed blue, we would see an orange crystal.

Interestingly enough, manufacturing a clear crystal is much more difficult than adding color. There can be no impurities during the manufacturing process as even a small contamination could change the clarity of the crystal.

To see all the actual colors of the Swarovski rhinestones we stock, simply purchase one of our Rhinestone Color Charts. They are adhered to a clear plastic page which enables you to place the page directly on your garment to match the color.

There are 12 dozen, or 144 rhinestones in a gross.

The name rhinestone came from pieces of glass that were found in the Rhine River in Austria. When first produced, rhinestones were cut and finished by hand. In the 1700's, a jeweler in Paris created a way to apply lead to the back of glass. This process greatly enhanced the complexity, brilliance and reflective quality of the glass.

Daniel Swarovski was born in 1862 in Bohemia (then part of the Austria-Hungarian Empire). In the early nineteenth century he began experimenting on methods of faceting glass and created a glass-cutting machine that cut faceted glass. This process produced a crystal far superior to hand-cut crystal. The company was enormously successful and soon produced many optical products, abrasives and grinding tools, as well as decorative stones made from crystal.

The arrival of these lovely crystal stones caused quite a stir in the fashion industry around the world in the 1920's. They quickly became popular worldwide! The "flapper" fashion for fringed and crystal creations brought about another patent: A ribbon of fabric studded with crystals ready to sew onto any garment. Fashion designers like Chanel and Schaparelli made costume jewelry not just acceptable but a fashion requirement for every fashion conscious woman of the time.

Around 1956 "Aurora Borealis" appeared in the crystal fashion world. These crystals were coated with an almost imperceptible layer of metal to give the stone a rainbow sparkle. Manfred Swarovski, Daniel's grandson, worked with Christian Dior to perfect this process.

All rhinestones are carefully and meticulously cut glass - or crystal - and have a foil backing with lead content to enhance the reflectiveness and brilliance. However, not all rhinestones are Swarovski nor are they all Austrian Crystal, which may be confusing. Rhinestones other than Swarovski are generally Czech, Korean, Acrylic or Plastic.

The highest quality rhinestones by far are the genuine Swarovski Rhinestones. Much like champagne, only rhinestones made specifically by the Swarovski company can be labeled "Swarovski". Swarovski rhinestones have been made of lead crystal with eight or fourteen facets. Today, many are lead free and have many more facets and varying table heights. These additions have made the Swarovski rhinestones and jewels even more desirable by designers around the world.

Rhinestones come in a multitude of different shapes, sizes and colors. The cut of the rhinestone greatly influences its brilliance! Remember:
  • Rhinestones with more facets reflect more than those cut with fewer facets.
  • Rhinestones cut with fewer facets will flash straight on more than those cut with a higher number of facets.
  • Eight-facet rhinestones combine the best of both worlds.

Rhinestones are sold in many sizes, but the larger sizes have fewer colors, as there is less demand for them. Rhinestone sizes are designated using the abbreviation "ss", which stands for "Stone Size", or "mm", which stands for "millimeter".

Round Rhinestones are available in the following sizes:
ss6 = 2mm
ss9 = 2.6mm
ss10 = 2.8mm
ss12 = 3mm
ss16 = 4mm
ss20 = 4.7mm
ss30 = 6.4mm
ss34 = 7.1mm
ss40 = 8.6mm
ss42 = 9.1mm
ss48 = 11mm

  • Swarovski rhinestones come in a huge variety of colors. New colors are added and older or unpopular colors are removed from Swarovski's categories annually.
  • PLAIN COLORS - These rhinestone colors are the most popular when looking for standard color shades. These stones are clear with coloring, and most have a silver mirror backing.
  • CRYSTAL COLOR - This is the traditional "diamond look-a-like" crystal. These are transparent with no color and a silver mirror backing. The "Crystal Rhinestone" is the most commonly seen rhinestone.
  • TRANSPARENT COLORS - These a semiprecious gem colors. The rhinestone colors are often named after the gem they imitate such as: Emerald (green), Peridot (lime or apple green), Sapphire (royal blue), Amethyst (purple), etc. If the name has "Light" before it, it is a paler version of the color.
  • AURORA BOREALIS (AB) SPECIAL COATING COLORS - AB rhinestones are produced by adding an Aurora Borealis coating over the base color, of the rhinestone. The coating creates a prism effect in light refraction, reflecting all colors of the rainbow. The base color of the rhinestone, usually shows through, but sometimes the coating completely changes the color of the stone. For example, Jet AB is not black, but shines shades of green and gold. Crystal AB is the result of an AB coating on a crystal rhinestone and casts mild colors in all ranges. Swarovski AB coatings reflect blues, greens, reds and golds. When these "Special Coating" crystals are produced, thousands are produced at one time, then Swarovski moves onto another product. Unfortunately, this process is not a perfect science, and variations in the reflected colors is not uncommon. Some crystals will be more blue, green, yellow, pink or gold. The "Special Coating" will also vary between articles and the various crystal styles and shapes.
  • EFFECT COLORS - Effect colored rhinestones come in special colors and are produced by polarization of the glass. These stones usually reflect two or more colors, depending on the direction of the light or the light source.
  • CRYSTAL LACQUER PRO EFFECT - Surface EFFECTS are the most common type of coating and means that the coating this is applied to the top surface of the crystal ... Crystal Lacquer Pro Effects is a premium opaque varnish that is applied to the reverse side of the crystal instead of foiling, resulting in an opalescent appearance. Depending on the lighting, you will see a "star" effect when looking down on the crystal.
  • OTHERS - There are other types of rhinestone finishes like; Metallic (Metal coating); Opal (a milky opalescent coating); Shimmer Effects (shimmery effect, very sparkly)