Whatever type of product you buy, there’s a level of quality. Apparel, houses, cars, and many other things have characteristics that distinguish them from others of the same type. It’s these traits that also determine the price you’ll pay. For example, there is a big price difference between buying a handbag made from vinyl or one from leather. Rhinestones aren’t any different from other products. Different characteristics influence production and hence cost. Some factors that affect rhinestone pricing are raw material, size, shape, color, and cut.
Generally, there are 3 basic classifications for the types of rhinestones available: crystal, glass, and plastic. Yet, even among manufacturers that use similar raw materials and techniques, there are price differences. Understanding these differences can help you pick the best rhinestone for your project.
What Is the Rhinestone Made From?
First, manufacturers use different kinds of materials to produce rhinestones. Some use plastics like resin or acrylic. Others produce glass rhinestones. Still others produce crystal rhinestones. Furthermore, each company uses different raw materials and particular processes for manufacturing. The raw materials and manufacturing help determine the cost of the rhinestone product.
Of all the materials used for rhinestones, plastics are the most inexpensive to produce. Plastics are cheaper due to the low amount of energy needed to produce them. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, glass manufacturing is among the most energy-intensive industries. This includes crystal, a distinctive type of glass.
Generally, crystal is more expensive than ordinary glass. This is due to the difference in raw materials. In the past manufacturers created crystal components by adding lead to make glass clearer and more refractive. With the health concerns over lead, many manufacturers developed formulas using other ingredients like barium oxide. These new lead-free crystals have the same brilliance and shine as leaded crystal rhinestones. However, the materials to produce crystal are more expensive than those of ordinary glass, thus making crystal more expensive.
Are the Rhinestones Molded or Cut?
Facets are the plane surfaces on a rhinestone that reflect light back to the viewer. The greater the number of facets, the more angles for light to bounce off the stone. Additionally, some light enters the rhinestones reflects off the silver foil backing and back to the viewer. It is the unique proportion and arrangement of these facets that make a rhinestone sparkle.
Depending on the type of rhinestones, some manufacturers create facets by molding. While others cut the facets onto the surface of the rhinestone. Resin and acrylic rhinestones are molded rhinestones. Some glass rhinestone manufacturers mold their product, while others cut facets. Whereas crystal rhinestone manufacturers precision cut and polish the facets of their rhinestones.
Molded rhinestones are the cheapest because manufacturers can produce them in one step. Manufacturers simply inject the raw material into the mold and allow it to harden. Whereas glass manufacturers must cut the rhinestone multiple times and then polish each facet. This additional labor drives up the cost.
Even Among Similar Manufacturers There Can Be Price Differences
For over 100 years, two brand name rhinestone manufacturers have been synonymous with high quality rhinestones, Preciosa and Swarovski. In particular, Preciosa traces its beginnings back to the early 1700s when Bohemian glassmakers introduced the world’s first cut rhinestone. Then, in 1895, one Bohemian glassmaker, Daniel Swarovski, invented a machine for cutting crystal faster and more precise. Today, both these brands are known for their high quality. Preciosa’s Maxima rhinestone boasts 15 facets, while Swarovski’s product has 16.
Over the years, other companies have emerged to produce cheaper rhinestones. DMC rhinestones originated in Korea as a cheaper alternative to the name brands. Typically, DMC rhinestones are glass rhinestones with 12 facets. Generally, DMC rhinestones are a medium quality stone for a lot less money than the name brands. MC are generally Chinese manufactured stones. The facet cut and general quality of MC rhinestones are lower than DMC rhinestones.
Generally, resin and acrylic are the cheapest of all rhinestone choices due to their low energy and material costs. These types of rhinestones are great for children’s crafts for this reason. However, even among these two types of stones, the price can be very different between manufacturers. This can be due to the quality of raw materials and the quality of the molds. Typically, cheaper produced varieties cloud or yellow as they age.
Common Imperfections in Lower Cost Rhinestones
Name brand rhinestones are known for their flawless product. You’ll want to use a name brand rhinestone when embellishing items that require the very best. Dance costumes and formal wear are times you may want to spend the extra money on a perfect rhinestone.
Often, cheaper rhinestones have imperfections. For example, if manufacturers don’t keep up with the integrity of the molds, imperfects can occur in the rhinestones. Additionally, flow lines may appear if the material cools inconsistently. Bubbles are a common problem in cheaply produced plastic and glass rhinestones. Inconsistent color between rhinestone batches is also prevalent among the more cheaply produced manufacturers.
Variances in Rhinestone Pricing Reflect the Quality of the Rhinestone
With the large variety of rhinestone products, picking the right one for your project can be difficult. Purchasing the cheapest is not always wise. Rhinestone pricing can help determine the quality of the product. Knowing and understanding these qualities can help you make an informed decision.
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