History & Uses of Rhinestone

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Rhinestone History


A rhinestone, paste or diamante is a diamond simulant made from rock crystal, glass or acrylic.

Originally, rhinestones were rock crystals gathered from the river Rhine, hence the name, although some were also found in areas like the Alps. The availability was greatly increased in the 18th century when the Alsatian jeweller Georg Friedrich Strass had the idea to imitate diamonds by coating the lower side of glass with metal powder. Hence, rhinestones are called strass in many European languages.

Rhinestones can be used as imitations of diamonds, and some manufacturers even manage to reproduce the glistening effect real diamonds have in the sun.
In 1955, the Aurora Borealis, a thin, vacuum-sputtered metallic coating applied to crystal stones to produce an iridescent effect, was introduced by Swarovski. Aurora Borealis tends to reflect whatever color is worn near it, and it is named after the Aurora Borealis atmospheric phenomenon, also known as the "Northern Lights". Similar treatments are Aqua aura and "Flame aura".

Typically, crystal rhinestones have been used on costumes, apparel and jewelry. Crystal rhinestones are produced mainly in Austria by Swarovski and in the Czech Republic by Preciosa and a few other glassworks in northern Bohemia. In the US, these are sometimes called Austrian Crystal. In the Spanish-speaking world they are called Cristal de Bohemia (Bohemian Crystal).
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