Drinking from a Waterford Crystal goblet is an opulent experience. The crystal-clear clarity of the goblet and the play of light along its surfaces are visually stimulating. It’s an entirely different experience sipping from a Waterford Crystal glass than from an ordinary piece of glass stemware. For elegance and luxury, the choice is crystal clear.
The difference between glass and crystal rhinestones is similar to wine glasses. With flat faceted surfaces to reflect light, both produce sparkle. However, crystal rhinestones have a higher refraction index resulting in a greater reflection of light. Additionally, crystal has a higher dispersion index than glass giving it a prismatic effect.
Isn't Crystal Rhinestone A Color?
Indeed, it is and that’s where some confusion can arise. When you’re referring to crystal as a rhinestone color, you’re talking about the clear rhinestone. There’s also a clear rhinestone with the rainbow coating called Crystal AB as well as many other rhinestone colors. The color name has nothing to do with the material the manufacturer makes the rhinestone from. If you’re shopping for rhinestones, it’s important to determine the material the manufacturer uses to produce its rhinestones.
Actually, crystal is a form of glass. Manufacturers make crystal by mixing glass components with lead. In doing so, the glass becomes clearer and inherits a higher level of refraction as well as a prismatic effect. Due to safety concerns with lead, today some crystal manufacturers substitute other minerals in place of lead. Many of these lead-free crystals still have similar refraction and prismatic effects of leaded crystal.
Have you ever played with a prism as a child? Light enters the prism, bends, and exits the prism as a rainbow. Crystal has the same effect on light as a prism. This is why crystal chandeliers produce rainbows on nearby walls.
How Does the Rhinestone Quality Compare?
Generally, crystal is harder and denser than glass. This allows manufacturers to precision cut facets into the surface of the rhinestone. Glass is softer and the edges of the facets wear down faster. Additionally, because it is a softer material, it’s harder to cut many facets into the rhinestones. Typically, this is why you’ll find crystal rhinestones have more facets than glass rhinestones.
In particular, the top name brands, Swarovski and Preciosa, manufacture lead-free crystal with the highest number of facets. These lead-free rhinestones have all the sparkle and brilliance of their previous crystal. Swarovski’s Xirius has 16 facets, while Preciosa’s Maxima has 15. The number of facets in glass rhinestones varies by manufacturer, but generally are between 8-11 facets.
Why the Number of Rhinestone Facets and the Arrangement Matter
Light reflects off of flat surfaces. Thus, the great the number of flat surfaces or facets a rhinestone has, the greater amount of light it reflects. Moreover, the arrangement of the facets along the surface affects the dispersion and reflection of light.
As light hits the surface of a rhinestone, the facets reflect some of the light back to the viewer. Some of the light enters the rhinestone, bounces inside, bends, and exits out the top. This bending of the light results in the prismatic effect as the crystal spits white light into colors. The number of facets and the angles determines light’s performance and visibility.
Should I Use Glass or Crystal Rhinestones for my Project?
Glass is cheaper to produce than crystal. Therefore, crystal rhinestones are more expensive than glass rhinestones. In some instances, you may want the highest quality rhinestone product. Jewelry projects or formal wear like a wedding gown may require brand name crystal rhinestones. Other times, you may want less expensive glass rhinestones.
If you need help in deciding, contact us. We’ll be happy to help. At Rhinestones Etc., customer service is our top priority. With fast shipping and discount pricing, we want to be your source for bling.
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