Rhinestones

Rhinestones are faceted gemstone imitations typically made from glass or crystal and made to be set in jewelry. The original rhinestones were quartz stones (rock crystal) dug out of the 820 mile long Rhine River, hence their name.

The French jeweler Georg Friedrich Strass (29 May 1701 - 22 December 1773) revolutionized glass rhinestones by "developing a process to back high-lead glass with foil to add sparkle by allowing the light to reflect back up through the glass."

The next major revolution in rhinestones came from Daniel Swarovski in 1891 when he designed a machine for glass cutting. Before this time, all rhinestones were individually cut and faceted by hand which naturally was a slow process. Thanks to Swarovski, rhinestones could then be produced much more quickly and gain the quality of machine precision.

The Swarovski name continued to improve the versatility of the stones by developing a polychrome metal surface coating for the stones in 1956 called "Aurora Borealis". This technique was named after the color-shifting phenomenon Northern Lights often seen in high altitude regions in the northern hemisphere.

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