Rhinestones are faceted gemstone imitations typically made from glass or crystal and made to be set in vintage costume jewelry. The historical origin of 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.

Describing Rhinestone/Glass Cuts & Shapes

  • Rose Cut - Flat backed with facets in two ranges rising to a point.
  • Cabochon Cut - Flat backed with a smooth, domed top (no facets). Typically oval shaped but can be oval, round, square, rectangular, pear, and navette shaped.
  • Buff Top Doublet - Smooth domed top with a pointed bottom.
  • Chaton - A round point-back stone with eight flat-cut facets around the crown.
  • Rivoli - Round in shape with narrow facets and a pointed top.
  • Navette (Marquise) - Can be long or slender in body with ends that meet into a sharp point, typically brilliantly faceted.
  • Pear (or teardrop) -
  • Rectangle
  • Square - Just as it sounds, a square shaped cut with or without facets.
  • Antique Cushion -
  • Antique Square -
  • Baguette - A narrow rectangular-cut stone. When used in an emerald, it is called an emerald cut.
  • Briolette - An oval or pear-shape that is entirely faceted in triangular cuts.
  • Margarita - Scallop-edged or flower-shaped with holes in the center (for securing)

Describing Rhinestone & Art Glass Effects & Finishes

  • Translucent - Semi-transparent stone where light passes through the stone, but is diffused.
  • Transparent - Light passes completely through the stone without being diffused, such as 'clear' crystal.
  • Opaque - Light does not pass through the stone, such as navy blue or chalk white.
  • Cuba
  • Saphiret - A glass stone with a blue-brown hue made by adding a small amount of gold to blue-glass during production. True Saphiret is rare and highly collectible!
  • Givre
  • Bi-color
  • Lava Rock
  • Nugget Top
  • Foiled
  • Flawed Stones - Thin filaments of opaque glass are infused within a (mostly) transparent glass to create swirls of white.
  • Moonstone - Semi-transparent stone, often white or light blue. High quality plastics were also used for faux moonstones.
  • Carnival - An iridescent glass similar to aurora borealis
  • Dragon's Breath - Simulated Mexican fire opals, made of glass. They have a bi-color effect ranging from red to blue, yielding an overall purplish cast.
  • Peacock Eye - A glass whose coloring resembles the "eye" for a peacock's feather.
  • Peking Glass - Imitation jade glass.
  • Opalescent -
  • Watermelon or Virtrail Medium II - Pink in the center, green on the outer edge.

Describing Rhinestone & Art Glass settings


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