Helpful Hints, Tips & References
The world of crystals is a big one! And yet, with a
little advice and being pointed in the right direction, finding the right
crystal for your needs needn't be difficult.
When we're talking rhinestones, we're usually referring to crystals that
have flatbacks, and are used to apply to carrier surfaces, such as fabric
as an example. Flatbacks can be glued, rim set, hotfixed, sewn on, and can
create a huge variety of design applications. But not all rhinestones are
flat backed. Some are pointback crystals. These are the kinds of stones you
would see set into metal mouldings in jewellery, and used these days in
polymer clay and other such carrier materials. Some are already set into
metal settings, such as Pointback Montee stones. Montee meaning
So many rhinestones have a foiled back, making the appearance of the
crystal seem like a facetted mirror. This might be coloured, plain crystal,
bottom coated to create an effect from within the crystal (such as an
effect like Heliotrope), or top coated to create an effect from the surface
of the crystal (such as a coating like AB which stands for Aurora Borealis,
or Red Magma which makes clear crystal look like a volcanic orange-red).
Then, there are rhinestones that are produced with no foiling on the
underside at all. These may be totally clear, coloured, or clear and
top-coated, or coloured and top-coated. It seems that the possible
permutations produced by crystal manufacurers is almost endless. It
certainly makes for an interesting range of options, much more than what
you may have originally thought possible!
When we're talking crystals that aren't rhinestones we might be talking
about beads, pendants, pearl-finish, buttons and so-called 'fancy stones'.
Again, the range of shapes, colours, coatings, methods of application and
ideas is huge! Whether you're into making jewellery, crafts, sewing, art,
home decor, design or display, crystals really have been used in the
One of the best ways you can help yourself with your
search for the right crystal is to learn a little about the sizes and terms
used by the manufacturers themselves.
Ss stands for stone size
Pp stands for pearl plate
Mm stands for millimetres
Gross is 144 (12 x 12) - it is the term used for quantities of crystals
- 2 gross, 5 gross, 10 gross, etc.
ID stands for inside diameter
OD stands for outside diameter
Nominal means what the thing (in the case of Crystals it will be
measurements) is generally referred to
Actual means what it actually is in measurement
Tolerance means what is tolerated as an actual measurement range (this
may be the difference between .01-.03 of a mm)
Worldwide, most rhinestone sizes are rounded off for ease of
Ss 6 is 2mm
Ss 8 is 2.5mm
Ss 10 is 3mm
Ss 12 is 3.5mm
Ss 16 is 4mm
Ss 20 is 5mm
Ss 30 is 6mm
Ss 34 is 7mm
Ss 40 is 8.5mm
Ss 48 is 11mm
1.90 - 2.10
.079 - .083
2.30 - 2.40
2.70 - 2.90
3.00 - 3.20
0.12 - 0.13
3.80 - 4.00
0.15 - .016
4.60 - 4.80
0.18 - 0.19
6.32 - 6.50
0.25 - 0.26
7.07 - 7.27
0.28 - 0.29
8.41 - 8.67
0.33 - 0.
Swarovski Stone Colour Chart
Hints about gluing rhinestones (that are not hotfix) on to porous
surfaces (eg; fabric)
The two basic rules are ‘use a suitable glue' and ‘get your
technique right'. As with any new activity, even gluing requires practice.
When gluing rhinestones for the first time, we recommend doing a test-run
Only glue stones onto surfaces where there will be sufficient contact
area. Common sense prevails...a 5mm stone needs more than one thread in a
knit fabric like net to attach to.
Choose your glue carefully. Some glues (containing acetone, acetic
acid, dimethylketone, 2-propanone, silicones) affect the backing of the
rhinestones, which is a layer applied to the actual lead crystal part of
the rhinestone, giving it the mirror reflective effect. These glues shrink
when dry, and shrink the backing along with it, causing the backing to
flake off the stone and the stone fall off the garment. Use a glue that
the producer recommends for the given purpose. For gluing onto fabric
surfaces and porous surfaces, we recommend Gemtac adhesive.
Prepare yourself for the project. Make sure your surface is clean,
de-greased and free from surface moisture. A general soft detergent should
be sufficient to clean any surface which might be greasy. Pour your
rhinestones out onto a small plate, and if necessary, blue-tac the plate
down so you don't knock it and send the stones flying across the dining
Step one: Lay your surface out that you want to attach the stones to.
If it is fabric, lay it out as flat as possible. If it is a garment, stuff
a pillow inside it to plump the fabric out so it is a flat surface to work
on. Use a protective layer between the fabric and whatever lays beneath
it, so as to stop the glue from seeping out the other side onto your
favourite table top, the lounge carpet, or your pillow! Be ready to move
the protective layer after a time, to avoid having this permanently glued
to your garment/fabric as well as the stones. We use newspaper or an old,
thick sheet, plastic sheeting, anything that will stop the glue from
seeping onto what you don't want to seep onto, and anything you don't mind
getting glue dots all over.
Step Two: There are a few tried and true methods to actually getting the
stones in the right place. First of all, try to handle the stones as
little as possible with your hands, as this avoids any excess of natural
skin oils from building up on the stone's backing, which can affect how
well the stones stay on once affixed. We use a blob of blu-tac molded
around the end of a pencil to maneouvre the stones. It is tacky enough to
pick a stone up, and not so sticky that it won't let it go again. What you
will be doing is picking each stone up and placing it in the dot of glue
that you will be putting on your fabric. Some people use tweezers to do
this, but we like the blu-tac on the pencil as it can be shaped to a fine
point that is still sticky enough to pick up the stones with and the point
will be able to stay out of the way of the glue therefore. For really tiny
stones (ss6 and ss8) some people use the end of dry pasta stick such as
spaghetti, and lick it to make it a little sticky.
Step Three: Dot your glue onto the fabric, in the places you want your
stones to be affixed. Dot up to 5 at a time once you get the hang of
gluing stones (don't do too many at a time or your glue will dry out too
much before you get the stones on). Place just enough glue on the fabric
to completely capture the edges of the stone when it is pressed down,
without having it ooze all over the fabric. You want to create a little
nest of glue for the stone to sit in...but not so much that the stone swims
in the glue and you don't really get the stone's effect. You want to
capture the lower edges of the stone and not just a spot on the silver
backing, as the backing may not be strong enough to support the weight of
the stone and you may end up with the backing separating from the
Step Four: Allow your glue and stones to dry in place, unhindered for 24
hours, or for however long the manufacturer's instructions say to leave the
glue. The only time you would need to touch the fabric or garment ould be
to move the layer you have used to protect whatever was underneath.
Once you have followed all these steps you should proceed with
confidence, and know that your technique will improve each time.
the difference between rhinestones and diamantés?
None at all. Rhinestones, diamantés, dimontes, crystals,
christals, stones, bling, chatons, chaton roses, strass, flatbacks,
swarovskis, swartzkofskis and jets are all names we've heard used to describe
rhinestones. The technically correct name for a pointed back stone
is a 'chaton' and a flatback stone is a 'chaton rose'.
the difference between Preciosa and Swarovski Rhinestones?
These days very little. For many years Swarovski stones
were far superior to Preciosa’s but as technology improved, the
differences became almost indistinguishable and Preciosa’s pricing
structure made their brand extremely competitive. It's said that
Swarovski tried to counteract this competition by introducing a 12
facetted stone but within months Preciosa had done the same. Then in
2004 Swarovski launched the 14 facet Xilion cut calling it “the new
generation of brilliance” and the extra sparkle from 14 facets was
undeniable. However, at a distance the extra sparkle of the Xilion cut
seems to override the actual colour flash of the stone so although there's
lots of sparkle, there's not much colour going on.
innovation from Preciosa is the Viva12 rhinestone. They say they've
modified the cut of the original 12 facets to enhance the sparkle and
they've optically purified the crystal for extra brilliance. In our
opinion the Viva12 stones not only appear to now be the most sparkly on
the market but they also retain that important colour flash up
close AS WELL AS at a distance. Watch this space…
rhinestones will I need?
Probably more than you think.
The most common reason we hear for repeat orders is that the original
amount was under estimated. As a guide, in a 10 cm x 10 cm
square place stones or a suitable substitute in the pattern or design you
want to create and count the number of stones used. Then multiply
that number by the approximate number of 10 cm squares needed to cover the
entire area you want to decorate. It’s not foolproof but we haven't
yet come up with a more reliable method. If in doubt always buy
more. Extras will always be handy for jewellery, fingernails or
repairs. No application method is perfect and you can always expect
to shed some stones over time, so having extras on hand is sometimes
What is the most popular size?
Usually ss16 and
ss20 for costumes, stage and clothing. However, we've noticed an
increased trend in the use of smaller stones such as ss10 and ss12 in
combination with larger stones, such as ss30 and ss34. For craft,
especially for use with hotfix tools, the trend is for smaller stones,
such as ss10's. The diversity of use of rhinestones now dictates
that a much larger range of sizes be available, so we stock from an ss6
through to an ss40, with even larger stones suitable for sew-on also
I have a group of team uniforms I need to embellish / We make
corporate promotional uniforms / We are professional embroiderers and need
to create a client's uniforms....can you help us with making heat-fix
transfers of rhinestones or metallic studs if we give you the
Yes, we can. Send us a jpeg or pdf file of your
design/logo/picture, and your ideas for size and colours. We'll get back
to you with a quote and proposed sectional design response within a few
days in most cases. We then get your ok of the design, and send a sample
to be made up and sent to you. Production of your completed order takes
between 4-6 weeks maximum. These transfers can include rhinestones,
metallics (brushed and polished) and/or pearls, and are applied using a
heat press or a domestic iron with great success.
BIRTHSTONE COLOURS AND SUGGESTED
||SUGGESTED SWAROVSKI COLOUR
||SUGGESTED PRECIOSA COLOUR
||Siam or Garnet
||White Opal / Pearl
Why does the colour of some stones change with the angle you
look at them from?
Some colours, such as Heliotrope, Vitrail
Medium and Bermuda Blue for example are commonly referred to as 'effects'
colours as you are able to see one colour one way, and another colour when
you look from a different angle. The vacuum coating on Effects
stones is applied to the stone between the foiled backing and the crystal
itself. This is different from the coating applied to the top
surface of a rhinestone, such as in the case of Crystal AB, Golden Shadow,
Hematite for example.
Some more comments on colours:
Golden Shadow goes well on nude fabrics, such as sheer
skin toned mesh.
Jet flatbacks are not the best on black fabrics if you
want the stone to stand out from a distance...Jet Hematite
is far better in terms of being visually 'there'. Jet
seems to sink right in and get lost a little. However, for fashion
applications, Jet on black can be just the right subtle touch needed.
Vitral Medium is a great colour for lime fabrics, or
anything that combines lime green, bright pink and or bright orange.