Rhinestones have been used for decades to add sparkle and shine to clothing, accessories, crafts and more. But what exactly are rhinestones made of? The answer is that some rhinestones are plastic while others are made of glass. Let's take a closer look at the different types of rhinestones available and their composition.
When it comes to quality and reputation, Swarovski rhinestones are considered the gold standard. Swarovski uses high-quality crystal glass to create their rhinestones, rather than plastic. The glass formula contains 32% lead to maximize shine and sparkle. Swarovski rhinestones have excellent light refraction and reflectiveness due to the leaded glass. They are more expensive than plastic rhinestones but provide superior brilliance and durability.
Besides Swarovski, other manufacturers also produce glass rhinestones. These are made from crystal glass, often with a lower lead content. Glass rhinestones provide excellent shine and sparkle, though they may not quite match the brilliance of Swarovski stones. High quality glass rhinestones are an affordable alternative to Swarovski that still offers beautiful glass composition and reflective properties.
Jelly rhinestones, also called acrylic rhinestones, are made from plastic rather than glass. The plastic formula allows jelly rhinestones to have a transparent, gem-like appearance resembling glass. However, they lack the light refraction and reflectiveness of real crystal glass. Jelly rhinestones are the most inexpensive type of rhinestone available. While they have a beautiful look, they will not match the shine and brilliance of true glass rhinestones. The plastic material also makes them less durable over time.
Resin rhinestones are a type of plastic rhinestone made from epoxy resin. They have a high gloss finish that attempts to simulate the look of glass, but with less sparkle and shine. Resin rhinestones are more durable than other plastics and less likely to fade or yellow over time. However, they still lack the optical qualities of glass and reflect less light. Resin is cheaper than glass so resin rhinestones can offer an affordable solution when glass is not a priority.
What Are Rhinestones Used For?
Rhinestones have a wide variety of uses, thanks to their classic sparkle and the availability of different rhinestone types. Here are some of the most popular uses of rhinestones:
- Clothing - Rhinestones are often used on dresses, shoes, jeans, t-shirts, jackets and other apparel as decorative accents. They can be sewn on or applied with adhesive.
- Accessories - Rhinestones are used on jewelry, handbags, sunglasses, phone cases, belts and hats to add stylish sparkle.
- Crafts - Hot fix and flatback rhinestones allow crafters to easily apply sparkle to cards, scrapbooks, mirrors, vases and almost anything that needs some shimmer.
- Beauty - Nail artists use rhinestones to create sparkling nail art. Face rhinestones add glitz to makeup looks.
- Home décor - Rhinestones can be used to decorate vases, candles, lamps, furniture and holiday decorations around the home.
- Performance wear - Figure skaters, dancers and musicians often wear rhinestones on their costumes and gear while performing. The stones add dramatic shine and sparkle.
Jelly vs Resin Rhinestones: What's the Difference?
We've mentioned that jelly and resin rhinestones are both types of plastic rhinestones. What sets them apart? Here are the key differences:
- Material - Jelly rhinestones are made from acrylic plastic. Resin rhinestones are made from epoxy resin plastic, making them more durable.
- Sparkle - Jelly rhinestones refract light poorly compared to glass. Resin has a bit more shine than jelly but still lacks true glass refraction.
- Price - Jelly is the most inexpensive. Resin costs a bit more but is still one of the cheaper options.
- Uses - Jelly works okay for temporary use like costumes or crafts. Resin holds up better over time for apparel or accessories.
- Quality - Jelly rhinestones are the lowest quality plastic. Resin is higher quality but glass rhinestones are considered the best quality.
So in summary, resin rhinestones are made from a more durable epoxy plastic while jelly rhinestones are a lower-quality, inexpensive acrylic option. Resin has a bit more shine and longevity compared to jelly. Ultimately glass rhinestones are the highest quality for maximum sparkle.
Rhinestones for Crafts: How to Use Them
Rhinestones open up a world of possibilities for handmade crafts and DIY projects. Here are some tips for using rhinestones creatively:
- Choose hot fix rhinestones with heat-activated glue for easy application to fabric and other materials using a hot fix applicator tool. They come in various sizes and shapes.
- Flatback rhinestones have a smooth flat back and can be applied with craft glue onto cards, scrapbooks, wood, glass, resin items, candles, and more.
- Use clear glue for a subtle look. Colored glue like tacky glue can complement or contrast with the rhinestone color.
- Arrange rhinestones to form patterns, outlines, flowers or other designs. Combine different colors and sizes for visual interest.
- Use a toothpick to place tiny rhinestones in precise positions.
- For a dazzling background, cover a whole surface with rhinestones using collage techniques.
- On fabric like t-shirts, consider outlining designs with rhinestones using a complementary thread color.
- Rhinestones can be combined with other embellishments like ribbons, buttons, beads and embroidery.
Let your creativity shine by adding rhinestones to greeting cards, jewelry, holiday ornaments, home decor, apparel, gifts and other DIY craft projects!
Hotfix Rhinestones: Convenient Sparkle
Hotfix rhinestones offer crafters an easy way to add professional-level shine and sparkle to projects. Here’s an overview:
- Hotfix rhinestones have a heat-sensitive adhesive on the back that is activated with heat. A hotfix applicator tool is used to transfer the stones.
- When applied properly with the tool, the hotfix adhesive creates a strong permanent bond.
- Hotfix rhinestones are available in various sizes, shapes and colors to suit any design. Popular choices are transparent, rose, sapphire, crystal AB and more.
- Use hotfix stones on fabric goods like apparel, shoes, bags and accessories. They can also be applied to hats, cell phone cases, mirrors, crafts and more.
- The heat applicator tool makes hotfix application fast and consistent for both hobby crafters and professionals alike. Practice is recommended for best results.
- Hotfix offers versatile, mess-free sparkle compared to glue-on stones. The adhesive backing prevents any glue from seeping through fabric.
- Consider stocking up on a variety of hotfix colors and sizes to have plenty of options on hand for rhinestone projects.
Best Glass Rhinestones: Quality Matters
When your project calls for maximum sparkle and brilliance, choose the best glass rhinestones available. Here’s how to select quality glass stones:
- Lead content - The highest lead content will provide optimal light refraction. At least 20% is ideal, while 30%+ yields the most shine.
- Cut - Precise faceting will bounce and reflect light beautifully. Well-cut glass stones shine and sparkle gorgeously.
- Coatings - Good rhinestone glass may have protective coatings to maintain a smooth surface and prevent scratches.
- Color - Premium glass rhinestones offer deep, vivid coloration without appearing dull or washed out.
- Consistency - Quality rhinestones will have consistent sizing and shape. Variety packs may have some variability.
- Brand Reputation - With rhinestones, brand matters. Companies like Swarovski and Preciosa are known for top-quality glass rhinestones that outshine lower quality options.
- Reviews - Check reviews to learn how specific glass rhinestone products stack up when it comes to cut, shine and durability.
The highest quality glass rhinestones may cost more, but their exceptional brilliance is worth the investment for heirloom-quality jewelry and accessories that will sparkle gorgeously for years to come