What Are Rhinestones?
Rhinestones add a happy glint to costume jewelry and even to the beady embroidery on our dress up clothes. They lend a diamond like sparkle without burdening us with the cost of precious diamonds. In fact, rhinestones are imitations of diamonds. Most of them are made from glass or from material called diamond paste.
A few rhinestones are natural stones, mined like real diamonds from the earth. They are crystals of glassy quartz. These imitation diamonds of Mother Nature are found in the Alps, in Japan and in Madagascar, very handsome rhinestones also are found in certain caves at Little Rock, Arkansas and near Herkimer, New York.
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 jeweler 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”.