Marilyn: “Diamonds, I don’t mean Rhinestones…”
A RHINESTONE is an imitation stone originally made from rock crystal but since the 19th century from crystal glass or polymers such as acrylic. It is generally cut in the form of a brilliant and set in silver or other inexpensive mounting, so as to stand any amount of wear or of cleaning
Rhinestones were extensively worn in the latter part of the eighteenth century, typically on costumes, apparel and jewellery.
The word is a loan-translation of French “caillou du Rhin” ( Rhine pebble), so called because the Rhine River, one of the most important rivers in Europe, in the late 1800s was filled with quartz pebbles in brilliant colours.
Their availability increased in the 18th century when an Alsatian jeweller, G.F: Strass, started to imitate diamonds by coating lead glass with metal powder. That’s why rhinestones are called strass in many European countries. Further improvements in the composition led to well-known productions, such as Tiffany (1984) and Swarovski (1955)
Nowadays, the rhinestones sold as jewellery are made of quartz, glass or plastic and can be seen in a variety of colors.
These stones are relatively cheap, and when cut, faceted, and polished, they can be used as diamond imitations. Some manufacturers even manage to partially reproduce the glistening effect of real diamonds in the sun.. They are now much employed in shoe buckles, clasps, and ornaments for the hair.