Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are rhinestones?

  2. Are there different quality rhinestones?

  3. Why are Swarovski considered the best?

  4. Which rhinestones are best for my project?

  5. What is a chaton - pronunciation: (sha-tôn')?

  6. What other rhinestone types are there?

  7. What is the best size to use for my project?

  8. What's the difference between a 12ss and a 30ss?

  9. What does ‘AB’ mean?

  10. How many different colors are there?

  11. How many rhinestones will I need for my project?

  12. How many are a gross?

  13. How should I attach the rhinestones; sew-on, glue or hotfix?

  14. Do you have a catalog?

  15. Do you have a color chart?

  16. Do you offer wholesale pricing or volume discounts?

  17. Is buying online safe?

  18. Do you ship to Canada or Europe?

What are rhinestones?

The American Heritage® Dictionary defines a rhinestone as a colorless artificial gem of paste or glass, often with facets that sparkle in imitation of a diamond. 

The Rhine in rhinestone is the Rhine River, and rhinestone is a translation into English of the French phrase caillou du Rhin. Originally a rhinestone was a kind of rock crystal that was found in or near the Rhine. Other types of rock crystal, such as Cornish diamond, were given similar fancy names. Because rhinestones could be made to imitate diamonds, the name rhinestone was applied to artificial gems made from paste, glass, or gem quartz and as a result often carries a connotation of showbiz glitz.  Rhinestones are usually chatons with no hole and a foil back to increase reflectivity.

Are there different quality rhinestones?

There are several "types" of rhinestones; the two main ones being Austrian and Czech.  Generally, "Austrian" cut-crystal rhinestones are from Swarovski® and are without doubt the finest stones available.  Swarovski are the standard against which all other rhinestones are judged.

Czech machine cut rhinestones are close in quality to Austrian cut-crystal rhinestones, and are typically cheaper. But the quality is still noticeably less than Swarovski.  The most popular (and probably the best quality) Czech stones are Preciosa; which have less facets (8 facets versus 12 or 14) than Swarovski rhinestones.  Many Czech rhinestones are "machine pressed," or molded, into shape rather than cut.  These are much lower quality stones and are only recommended for inexpensive craft projects and children's apparel. 

Acrylic rhinestones (usually Czech or Asian) are made from molded plastic.  Because acrylic does not transmit light like glass or lead crystal, they do NOT sparkle like the real thing.

A quick summary by quality is as follows:

  • Best:  Swarovski® Austrian Cut-Crystal Rhinestones;

  • Next:  Czech and Asian Cut-Crystal Rhinestones;

  • Next:  Machine Pressed (Molded) Crystal Rhinestones;

  • Next:  Cut Glass Rhinestones (somewhat higher-quality than machine pressed Rhinestones, but lesser-quality than Cut Crystal Rhinestones;

  • Worst:  Acrylic Rhinestones (Molded Plastic).

Why are Swarovski considered the best?

Swarovski sets the standard for cut, clarity, brilliance, and consistency. A huge variety of colors is offered, with new colors coming out about every 6 months.  Many Swarovski lovers believe that the raw material used in the manufacture of their crystal occurs naturally.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Swarovski crystal is made at the factory in Wattens using basic formulae perfected by Daniel Swarovski and his three sons in the earlier part of last century.  Swarovski crystal is fired using a combination of natural minerals and quartz sand, and then cooled slowly to avoid stress and inclusions.

Which rhinestones are best for my project?

It depends on the project.  Generally, the higher the rhinestones' quality (see summary above) the more they will sparkle. The actual cut of the stone (facets) may not be noticeable at a distance, but it does affect the brilliance and sparkle.  The cut combined with the overall quality, usually determines the cost; and as the saying goes "you get what you pay for."

What is a chaton - pronunciation: (sha-tôn')?

Literally translated as "an imitation gem of paste that has its pavilion backed with metal foil or silver to reflect light."  In the rhinestone world a chaton is defined as one of the following types of stone illustrated below:

Pointed Back Chaton

12 or 14 Cut Chaton Rose

8 Cut Chaton Rose
(Czech - Preciosa)

What other rhinestone types are there?

Generally, the rhinestones Crystalz carries fall into one of two categories; Flat Back and Sew-On.  A Flat Back rhinestone, whether glue-on, iron-on, or sew-on (Lochrosen) is flat on the back.  There are two basic types of Flat Back rhinestone; Regular (glue-on) and Hotfix.  Both types of Flat Back are available in the same colors. The only difference between them is the method by which they are attached to a surface.

  • Regular Flat Back Rhinestone: The regular Flat Back rhinestone is usually glued to a fabric or surface using one of several adhesives specially made for the purpose.  They are flat on the back and have a silver foiled coating (sometimes referred to as Foil Back).

  • Hotfix Rhinestone: The Hotfix Flat Back rhinestone is backed with a special glue and can be set using a regular household iron or a special tool such as The Kandi Kane™, which picks up the stone, heats it, and melts the glue, allowing you to quickly and easily apply the stone to any surface.  No other glue is needed.

Sew-On rhinestones come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from Margaritas and Lochrosens to pear-shaped or teardrop, and many more.  Sew-on rhinestones are offered with one, two or three holes, depending on the stone. Lochrosens and Margaritas have one center hole.  These rhinestones can also be glued to fabric using one of the several special purpose adhesives.  However, glue doesn't work well with larger stones on fabric, therefore we recommend that larger stones be sewn in place.

What is the best size to use for my project?

Again, that depends on your project.  20ss is the most popular size for general apparel decoration.  The 20ss are large enough to handle easily and give an ample sparkle, and small enough for delicate work and intricate designs.  16ss is better for finer fabrics and laces, but does require more dexterity.  30ss are also used for apparel decoration.  12ss are best for decorating items such as cell phones, PDA's and iPods (a trend at the moment). 

What's the difference between a 12ss and a 30ss?

You can look at the size chart here for a comparison and a millimeter conversion.

What does ‘AB’ mean?

AB stands for Aurora Boreale; a special coating that is applied to the surface of a glass stone or bead to produces a very light rainbow effect that leans toward a pale yellow tone, but also shimmers in pink and blue. This coating is most effective on Crystal stones but also gives a beautiful depth and hue to other colors. When applied on a color stone, it changes the color just slightly and gives it a rainbow effect.

How many different colors are there?

You can view our complete color chart here.

How many rhinestones will I need for my project?

Well again that depends on the project, but probably more than you think you may need.  While a gross of rhinestones might seem like a lot, they may not go as far as you think.  We get asked this question a lot, so we thought we would try to help you in estimating your requirements.  To do this we must translate inches to millimeters and square inches to square centimeters.  But fear not; you don't need to break out the calculator, because we've done the hard part for you.

For this comparison, we will use 12ss, 20ss and 30ss rhinestones.  A 12ss rhinestone is approximately 3.1 millimeters (mm), a 20ss is roughly 4.7mm and a 30ss is about 6.5 mm.  One inch equals 25.4 millimeters (2.54 centimeters) and one square inch equals 6.45 square centimeters.  The following chart shows approximately how many of each size you would need to cover either a one inch strip or a one square inch area.

Size Number Needed to Cover
A One (1) inch Strip
Number Needed to Cover
One (1) Square Inch
12ss (25.4 / 3.1) = 8.2 (8.2 * 8.2) = 67.24
20ss (25.4 / 4.7) = 5.4 (5.4 * 5.4) = 29.16
30ss (25.4 / 6.5) = 3.9 (3.9 * 3.9) = 15.21

So, using this example we would need 3 gross of 12ss rhinestones to cover a cell phone or PDA that measures 3" x 2."  (3" * 2") = 6 * 67.24 = 403 / 144 = 2.8 gross.  Since 3 gross of crystals equals 432, you would have roughly 30 stones left over.  It’s always handy to have a few extra stones on hand for future repairs.

How many are a gross?

A gross is 144 pieces (12 dozen).  Rhinestones are usually weighed, not counted, so the numbers are approximate; but they are generally within a couple of pieces plus or minus

How should I attach the rhinestones; sew-on, glue or hotfix?

It depends on what you are attaching to.  Hotfix works great for fabric but you can't use hotfix on plastic (to embellish a cell phone or PDA).  Hotfix is also better for items that will be dry cleaned since other adhesives are not recommended for dry cleaning.  Hotfix was designed specifically for use on fabric; you never have to worry about the amount of glue to use since each stone has exactly the right amount.  Some glues that are used for fabric don't hold up well in cold temperatures; not so with hotfix.  Sewing may be preferable on fabric under certain conditions.  The type of fabric may not lend itself to either hot fixing or gluing. Sequins can also be used with sew-on stones to give a more sparkling effect.  It all depends on your individual project, but hopefully these general guidelines will prove to be helpful.

Do you have a catalog?
Our catalog is really a Price List and it reflects what is available on our website.  We would be happy to send you a printed price list on request. 

Do you have a color chart?

Yes, you can view our color chart here.

Do you offer wholesale pricing or volume discounts?

Yes, we offer studio pricing which is based on a minimum purchase.  Please email us if you want additional information.  We also offer special promotions from time to time (such as free shipping or discounts) so be sure to bookmark our site and check back regularly.

Is buying online safe?

Good question.  Our order entry process uses a Secure Server which provides an established method of exchanging data over the Internet that delivers server authentication, data encryption, and message integrity.  With SSL implemented on both the browser and server, your Internet communications are transmitted in encrypted form.  Information you send can be trusted to arrive privately and unaltered to the server you specify (and no other).  In addition, we do not sell, share or rent customer information with any other party.  None of your information will be given out unless required by law.

Do you ship to Canada or Europe?

Yes we do.