Part I: Semi-Rant (Part II below)
I wrote this blog because I firmly have an issue when a) I or my friends buy high priced designer costumes $550+ and the sew on stones and chain used are the most low grade rhinestones.
Note: I am a designer. I understand that companies need to churn profits but if you are going to sell costumes in the above price range there is wiggle room to pay a little extra and get your clients Swarovski or other high quality lead crystal alternatives, especially if your overseas and materials and the cost of labor and supplies is much less than the U.S.
That being said I will refer to case A) said friend paid $750 for a custom designer costume. Wore it a few times, i bought it after and when it arrived after three or four uses crystals looked like the photo provided! Now then….being a designer I did the math without any supplier discounts and the costume still churned a nice profit to said designer.
The issue is, if the designer is charging that rate, and doing a lovely job and marketing as a high end atelier, then shouldn’t the materials used be of high quality? Or if designer does not want to, should they then stop promoting the use of using high quality everything so they do not trick buyers who are not designers?
Part II: The Scoop on Rhinestone
So here it is…let’s talk about all things rhinestone and share the knowledge.
Ok here it goes (inhale).
Why is it called rhinestone? Because it used to be gathered from the Rhine river hence its name :)
What makes a rhinestone sparkle? A few things, the foil backing, the facets, and the amount of lead in the crystal. The lead really make it sparkle and shine like crazy!
Swarovski- they are the best in quality and the measure against which all other rhinestones are compared. They use a secret machine with a very refined laser and process that creates the gorgeous color and faceting that makes them unique. Have 14 facets.
Czech machine cut rhinestone such as Preciosa and etc…- I use Preciosa as an example as I have used them and they rock! Almost identical to Swarovski in shine and actually are a little punchier in color compared to Swarovski colors which are known for being more delicate. Come in 8-14 facet styles.
You can read Rhinestone Guys article about the Preciosa vs Swarovski differences at http://www.rhinestoneguy.com/allaboutrhinestones.html on the subject (he is awesome to work with and super knowledgeable). Anywho, they are a little less pricey and a great alternative.
Machine pressed this type of crystal is not as brilliant as the above two options and costs considerably less. Still very sparkly in my opinion but just not the same brilliance and luster.
Cut glass: never worked with this type but I mention it because I know it is an option that is out there and used. No lead here. If you know about this please comment below.
The worse quality of the bunch are acrylic rhinestones which are really nothing more than molded plastic. These do not really produce much of a shine and Although many of my budget conscious friends use them, please don’t lol! They will cheapen the look of your costume and they just bubble up anyways.
How To Tell The Differences?
So these are the types. How can you tell what kind of crystal you have? I recommend having at least one Swarovski in your house at all times as a gauge. You can just place a stone besides it and see if there is a noticeable sparkle, facet, and color difference.
Another way is to check your stone after a few sweaty days of dancing and see how it reacts to the moisture. Swarovski will never bubble. Yep that’s right, they don’t bubble. Imitators will :)
Lastly ask a friend who works with rhinestone often. :)
Dancers do not be afraid to ask the designer what stones they use, you might be surprised! Unless if you specify Swarovski, or the designer specifies it, then chances are it is another type of stone as these are very highly priced. The designer is not a bad person if they dont use the top two options, sometimes budget constraints are the reason. The issue is when a designer clearly lies about the stone they are using…yuck!
As for my rhinestone sets, I will answer the question now, because I know someone will ask lol. My sew ons are Swarovski…yes less profits but darn it I am a dancer and we deserve it! My chain is czech cut rhinestone so its blingy :) wish I could do Swarovski chain but my goodness have you seen those prices aaaah!
Please post your questions and comments in the blog and as always would love to hear from you!