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Swarovski Crystals and Rhinestones


Swarovski crystals and rhinestones are lab-created, simulated, imitations of crystals; hence, are called glass-crystals. These have high lead content that allows a brilliant sparkle (1). It allows people to avail of expensive crystals like ruby and emerald in a more affordable price. A less expensive version of Swarovski crystals are Czech Preciosa Austrian crystals (1). Unlike Swarovski crystals which have 12 or 14 facets, these Czech Preciosa crystals have 8 facets. There are also acrylic crystals that are made of plastic and do not sparkle.

Swarovski crystals

Swarovski rhinestones on Mercedes Benz SL

Czech Preciosa Flat back stones

Acrylic rhinestones

The term rhinestone originated from the riverbank of Rhine where rock crystals where used as fashion items (2). In 1775, it was George Frederick Strass who invented the art of attaching metallic powder or foil at the back of the rock crystals to make them reflect light more; hence making these sparkle like diamonds (2.) Swarovski later on manufactured glass-crystals which were also used as rhinestones. Rhinestones are typically named after the crystal they are mimicking, e.g. ruby rhinestone. Rhinestones are used mostly for jewelry, fashion items like clothes & bags, and as bling for any item you could think of.


(1) Branowitz, I. (2007). Create Your Own Bling: Add Glamour to Your Favorite Accessories. Wisconsin: Krause Publications

(2) Geary, T.F.(2008).The Illustrated Bead Bible: Terms, Tips & Techniques. New York: Sterling Publishing Co. Inc.