Monthly Archives: November 2011


Rhinestones – what are they?

I’ve often wondered, why are rhinestones so called? Have they ever been in contact with the River Rhine? A little research on the internet reveals that indeed they were, once upon a time.

Rhinestones were originally so named because they were made from rock crystal collected from the River Rhine.  (In case you were wondering,  rock crystal is a colourless form of quartz).

Some time later, circa 1775, a French jeweller by the name of George Frederic Strass developed a process which basically involved coating one side of glass with a metallic powder.  Light is unable to defract through plain glass, but his process improved the reflective quality and brilliance of the glass and created the illusion of diamonds. It meant that this glass could be facet cut, polished and even coloured, a great step forward in the evolution of costume jewellery.

Of course, it also meant that rock crystal was no longer needed for the rhinestone effect, and through Strass’ process,  imitation diamonds became much more widely available and affordable throughout Europe. The name “rhinestone” was kept, however, and is often universally applied to imitation diamonds whether made from rock crystal, acrylic, or glass. The word “diamante” means diamond-like and can be applied to any type of imitation diamond, including rhinestones and crystal.

In the US, rhinestones were popularised by the song “Rhinestone Cowboy” (Glen Campbell) highlighting the way country and western singers often dress in cowboy style, but the song says they are fake cowboys, like the rhinestones they wear are fake jewels.  These days rhinestone cowboys have become very much a part of  western US culture, and I would hazard a guess that those dressing as such probably do more line dancing than horse riding.

As with everything else, there are variations in quality of rhinestones.  Some of this jewellery is relatively expensive and of very high quality.  Even when it comes to imitations,  some are better than others.

In the UK, rhinestones have become a firm favourite when it comes to bridal jewellery and any occasion where a girl wants to wear “a bit of bling”.  Nowadays rhinestones mean anyone can afford to look like a princess.

Christmas is coming and that means parties, and dressing up,  so why not check out some party jewellery, including crystal and rhinestones  at

Thanks for reading.