An Introduction to rhinestones

The term ‘rhinestone’ refers to a flat bottomed shiny stone, paired with a backing of mirror foil that helps to reflect light. They are cut to the chosen shape (typically round), with several facets that are angled to enable reflection of the light for added sparkle. Rhinestones, also known as crystals, gems or diamantes, are mainly used in the DIY sector for embellishment, jewellery making, fashion, costume design, nail art, beauty and are prevalent in the creative and performing arts industries.

Background on Swarovski and Preciosa

Two of the world’s leading rhinestone manufacturers are Swarovski and Preciosa. Swarovski started the crystal revolution in 1895, and dominated the market for decades, until Preciosa was founded in 1948 and brought with them stiff competition. Although the exact manufacturing process is not known, their rhinestones are made from quartz sand and other natural minerals. Historically the crystals from both manufacturers were made with a certain amount of lead, but they are now both listed as lead-free.

The two companies have many similarities, but one major difference that we’ll be focussing on in this article is the price. In a nutshell, Swarovski rhinestones are generally more expensive than Preciosa. This higher price point is often attributed to Swarovski's long-standing brand reputation, exceptional quality, and the precision cutting techniques they use.

Price is a key factor when choosing rhinestones for different projects. If you're working within a tight budget, you might opt for more affordable stones such as Preciosa. However, for special items like high-end fashion, bridal or professional stage costumes, spending more on top-quality rhinestones like Swarovski can be important for their look and durability.

Comparative Price Analysis

In general, Swarovski rhinestones tend to be more expensive than Preciosa for the same types of products. Swarovski's products are often seen as the gold standard in the industry, offering unrivalled brilliance and precision, which justifies their higher cost. On the other hand, Preciosa, while also providing high-quality rhinestones, positions itself as a more cost-effective alternative, making it a popular choice for those seeking quality without the premium price tag of Swarovski.

Comparing Swarovski and Preciosa prices:

Let’s look at two leading rhinestone suppliers in the UK, one an authorised Preciosa stockist and the other an authorised Swarovski stockist, and see the price difference between the two brands.


Swarovski Price

Preciosa Price

Non hotfix SS5 AB crystals (Pack 1440)



Non hotfix SS16 Clear crystals (Pack 1440)



Non hotfix SS34 Colour crystals (Pack 144)



Crystal Dust for nail art AB (10g)



Sew on Peardrop 28x17mm AB (Pack 24)



Round Pearls 4mm Cream (Pack 500)



Bicone Beads 4mm Clear (Pack 720)




The products in the above example are of the same high quality and manufactured by the same process. As we can see, Preciosa is cheaper on every product.

Factors Influencing Price Differences

This difference in pricing is largely due to Swarovski's brand prestige and the high-quality materials and cutting-edge technology they use in manufacturing their crystals. They have also been in the industry for much longer and so are a well established and more well known brand. Swarovski have a higher marketing position, offering themselves as a luxury high end brand, whereas Preciosa are marketed as a high quality affordable alternative. Swarovski are more prevalent in the retail industry too, with shops open around the world selling crystal products such as high end jewellery, figurines, home decor and watches.

Cost vs. Value

When considering working with either brand, it is important to think about your budget and value for money. Some larger scale customers with a big budget, such as high end fashion designers, bridal couture houses, professional costume designers etc do require a luxury brand like Swarovski so they can advertise their products as ‘crystallised with Swarovski crystals.’ This name drop is what helps sell their product, so they are happy to pay for the name Swarovski. However, if a product is being judged on sparkle and shine alone, rather than the brand name, then Preciosa is more than capable of this, and at a lower cost. Their almost identical sparkle is definitely a match for Swarovski, which is why the majority of customers in the creative industry have now switched to Preciosa.

In terms of value for money, there are factors to consider: Durability, quality, longevity, aesthetics, prestige.

  • Durability – Crystals manufactured by both brands are considered to be long lasting. The foil backing of flatback crystals can withstand heat, movement and washing when used to decorate fabric. In both cases, the crystal material of the stone itself is durable, with chip resistant and scratch-proof coatings. To sum up, when it comes to durability, both Swarovski and Preciosa come out on top.
  • Quality – The products made by both companies are manufactured in a similar way, and the raw materials, although not fully known, contain the same basic mineral: sand quartz. Swarovski Xirius flatback crystals feature the same number of facets as Preciosa’s Maxima crystals, though cut to a slightly different shape. So they offer an almost identical sparkle.


  • Longevity – Both Swarovski and Preciosa products will last a lifetime if stored properly and well maintained. Their brilliance will outlast any other cheaper brands such as resin, glass or acrylic rhinestones, because of the quality of the hardwearing crystal they are made from.
  • Aesthetics – To some, Swarovski can be more aesthetically pleasing to look at, due to the star shape cut of the facets, but to most, there is no visible difference between the two brands except to the expert eye. Maybe the fact that Swarovski is an iconic brand, worn by celebrities and has connotations of luxury and wealth, makes it seem more pleasing to the eye. Knowing it is more expensive may also give the impression of looking expensive, but if you compare the two brands side by side without knowing which is which, you will probably find it hard to distinguish the Swarovski.
  • Prestige – As previously mentioned, Swarovski have the advantage of being more well known, and are a symbol of luxury and quality. This outweighs Preciosa’s prestige.

Applications and Affordability

Because Swarovski and Preciosa have such similar product offerings, they are both suitable for a number of applications, such as nail art, clothing embellishment, fashion, costume design, jewellery making, craft, dancewear embellishment and many other creative projects. Both brands offer hotfix and non hotfix rhinestones, read more about how to embellish with hotfix crystals to learn the technique.

For small-scale projects, such as blinging, nail art and clothing embellishment, one off costume making etc, it's not necessary to invest heavily in Swarovski crystals. While high end designers and luxury brands might prefer Swarovski for its brand recognition and to enhance the appeal of their products, Preciosa crystals offer a similar level of sparkle and shine at a more affordable price. This makes them an ideal choice for projects where the focus is on the visual quality rather than the brand name, allowing for the same great results without a large budget.

Customer Perspectives

The difference in pricing between Swarovski and Preciosa massively affects customer choices, especially in the performance arts world where the focus is on the visuals rather than the name tag. We know many costume designers, dancers, dressmakers and drag & burlesque artists who prefer to work with Preciosa as they get much more sparkle for their money – at a similar quality.

While consumers are now more than ever spending less money on material purchases due to the financial climate, we are seeing a shift in popularity between the two big rhinestone brands. As regular Swarovski customers are trying Preciosa for the first time, they are seeing the fantastic quality of the product as well as the money they are saving, and asking ‘Is it worth investing in Swarovski crystals?’

Let’s look at some verified product reviews, that can be seen on our website, from customers comparing the two brands:

Siobhan Liehne – Preciosa Glitter Bicone Beads

***** ‘Very pretty very glittery and almost identical to Swarovski’

Harmony Jones – Preciosa Fearie Dust

***** ‘The Preciosa Crystal Faerie is a great replacement for my Swarovski Crystal Pixie. So happy to have these!’

Tracey Stewart – Preciosa Clear Crystals

***** ‘I love preciosa! They sparkle just like swarovski.’


To summarise, if you’re trying to choose between buying Swarovski crystals or Preciosa crystals, have a think about these factors and decide what works best for your project.


  • Your budget – If money is no object and you are willing to splash out on a well known brand name then go for Swarovski. If you have a do have a budget, we suggest it is not necessary to spend it all on Swarovski crystals, when Preciosa can give you the same results for less.
  • Scale of the project – Purely for reasons of cost and value for money, we would always suggest Preciosa crystals, no matter the size of your project. In fact, the larger the project, such as multiple dance dresses, theatre costumes or items embellished in bulk, the more highly we recommend using Preciosa due to the savings you would make against Swarovski.
  • Business or personal – Some of our customers use crystals to embellish an item/service to be sold, and in those cases, it can be worth spending extra on Swarovski for advertising purposes, and to show they only work with high end materials. Also, some nail artists like to advertise themselves as ‘Swarovski Ambassadors’ which may bring in more customers and allow them to charge higher prices for their services.

We encourage all of our readers to explore our range of Swarovski and Preciosa rhinestones, and check out our Tips, Inspiration & News page for more interesting reads about all things rhinestones!

Swarovski preciosa & zodiac

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