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THE HISTORY OF RHINESTONES
Last Updated: 02/05/2019
Rhinestones which are also known as diamantes or paste date back as far as the thirteenth century where they were first made from Czechoslovakian or Bohemian hand blown glass. The term rhinestone came along later, when rock crystals were discovered in and around the shores of the river Rhine in Austria. These rock crystals could be cut and moulded to produce beautiful imitation diamonds and are what today’s rhinestone shape and look are based on. Unlike today’s rhinestones, rock crystals do not require any kind of backing to produce the sparkle they are so desired for. The crystals themselves have tiny imperfections within which bounce around the light to create their dazzling effect. Because of the popularity of these natural crystals resources soon became scarce so jewelers sought techniques to create artificial gemstones that duplicate the look of rhinestones.

In the later half of the 18th century French Jeweler Georg Friedrich Strass discovered that by coating the back of glass crystals with metal they would produce an effect much like rock crystals or diamonds. The first crystals had a metal foil glued to the backs of them, which was later substituted with a metal coating which gave a mirror like effect. The mirror backing forced a reflection back through the crystal and gave a dazzling sparkle like a diamond when in contact with light. These imitation gemstones became extremely popular which is why even today many people throughout Europe still refer to rhinestones as Strass.

The next step in the evolution of rhinestones came in the 19th century when Daniel Swarovski developed and patented a technique for precision glass cutting and polishing. With this new technology Swarovski were able to mass produce extremely high quality crystal glass rhinestones that have a much higher lead content than other rhinestones. This addition of lead increases the crystals refraction index which in turn enhances the crystals sparkle much more than conventional glass rhinestones. Swarovski also patented their XILION Rose 2028 Cut in 2004 which comprises of a 14 facet design that was later revised in the beginning of 2011. Swarovski modified the 2028 in favour of the new 2058 (Hot Fix XILION 2038) which has a smaller table and higher profile which once again improved the sparkle of their product. In 2015 Swarovski again redesigned the profile of their rhinestone to the XIRIUS 2088 (Hot Fix XIRIUS 2078) which has a slightly smaller table than the 2058, but the same profile height. The 2058 and the 2088 look very similar. Today Swarovski rhinestones are regarded as the finest in the world and as such are used by many of the world’s top fashion designers for accessorising their clothing lines.



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