Of course, we all know that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but we agree with Swarovski’s founder, Daniel Swarovski, who declared that rhinestones are ‘a diamond for every woman.’
It is commonly believed that rhinestones and diamonds are similar in their materials and how they’re formed, but actually there are some quite significant differences, which we will discuss in this article. So what are the differences between rhinestones and diamonds?
In a nutshell
To answer the question simply, diamonds are one of the hardest natural substances found on the Earth, and can be used to cut glass. Whereas rhinestones are made from glass or other man-made materials such as plastic, resin or acrylic. Another term we often see when referring to rhinestones is ‘crystal’. Crystal is a type of highly polished glass that has been made from natural quartz sand, and offers a sparkle and shine that is similar to a diamond. Crystal is traditionally made using lead which gives it an extra hardness that glass does not have. So, in terms of quality, diamond is at the top, followed by crystal, then glass.
Although crystals and rhinestones can offer a similar sparkle, these man-made stones must not be confused with diamonds, which are a natural mineral.
What are diamonds?
A diamond is a natural mineral comprised of pure carbon. Diamonds form when carbon deposits deep in the Earth's upper mantle, where they are exposed to extremely high pressures and temperatures. The heat crystallizes the carbon, transforming it into a hard, glass-like rock that we would recognize today.
Diamonds are the hardest naturally occurring mineral on Earth, rated 10 on the Moh’s scale of hardness (10 being the highest). This hardness makes diamonds an extremely durable precious stone, and the reason they are used to cut glass.
What are rhinestones?
Rhinestones are highly polished, machine cut glass stones 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. In our Ultimate Guide To Rhinestones we discuss the different types of rhinestone including colour, size, application and shape options.
Rhinestones, also known as flatback crystals, gems and diamantes, achieve their famous high quality sparkle through the facets cut into the glass, which reflect light and offers the brilliance in shine we are all familiar with today. Compared with diamonds, rhinestones are softer and less durable.
The most famous rhinestone maker is Swarovski. Although the exact manufacturing process is not known, Swarovski crystals are made from quartz sand and other natural minerals. Historically the crystals were made with 32% lead, but after a change in the manufacturing process in 2012, they are now listed as lead-free.
Other cheaper rhinestone brands may make their stones from a lower quality material, such as resin, acrylic or plastic, which are cheap and cheerful but don’t offer the same high shine as Swarovski, Preciosa or Zodiac – the latter being a popular alternative to Swarovski.
The history of Rhinestones
The original, and possibly most famous, rhinestone manufacturer in the world is Swarovski. Founder, Daniel Swarovski, was born in Bohemian Georgenthal (now Czech Republic) in 1862, in an area known for glass cutting and production. Daniel’s Father was a glass cutter who owned a small factory, and this was where Daniel Swarovski learnt the art of glass cutting himself. In 1895, he founded the company A. Kosmann, Daniel Swarovski & Co, which throughout the years has been developed and re-branded to what is now known as Crystals from Swarovski®.
The late 1800’s saw the development of a patented glass cutting machine that could cut crystal to a fine and precise level, which led to success for Swarovski, and the opening of a new glassworks factory in Austria. Post WW1 and the roaring 20’s saw Swarovski crystals explode in popularity in film, fashion, dance and theatre, and the distribution into the USA.
In 1956 at the age of 93, Daniel Swarovski died, but the rest of the 1900’s saw Swarovski Crystals take over the world in the creative and performing art industries, growing popular among jewellery designers, celebrities, filmmakers, singers and the humble craft hobbyist.
In the mid 1900’s we also saw the launch of Preciosa Crystals, a rival crystal manufacturing company. And more recently, in 2019, the launch of Zodiac Crystals which are giving both brands a run for their money.
Visual Appeal and Aesthetics
When it comes to physical visual appearance, there are both differences and similarities between rhinestones and diamonds.
- Both can be cut with many facets to reflect light. Facets are the flat surfaces cut into the stone, so the more facets a diamond or rhinestone has, the more brilliance and shine it gives out.
- Both can be used to make stunning pieces of jewellery, watches, ornament or figurines.
- Both can be manipulated into different shapes and contain various styles of cuts/facets.
- True diamonds are a perfectly clear mineral, whereas rhinestones can be made into any colour of the rainbow during the manufacturing process.
- As previously mentioned, diamond is a harder wearing material so is scratch proof and more durable for jewellery making.
- Good quality rhinestones have a strong visual appeal while remaining affordable, so can be used in vast amounts to cover fabric for costume making. The costume department in a theatre could never afford to adorn their cast in real diamonds!
While only a few of us can afford to be wearing real diamonds, the majority of us could afford to sport plenty of rhinestone jewellery, offering a very similar effect. Some top quality rhinestones can appear just as sparkly as a diamond, so the visual appeal of a rhinestone is strong.
Applications and Uses
While diamonds are mainly used for jewellery making purposes and luxury items, they are actually very commonly found in industrial environments. Due to the hardness of diamonds, they are used for drilling, mining, sawing, cutting and polishing. Even dentists have tiny diamond tipped drills!
The use of diamonds in health and beauty products has also been on the rise recently, with diamond dust exfoliator being a popular product for celebrities. A recent study performed by Cardiff University showed that nanodiamonds, which are smaller than a single human hair, are a great indicator of the effectiveness of cancer drugs. Using the diamonds’ reflective properties, the researchers were able to monitor the cellular processes that occurred once patients were given cancer medication.
Rhinestones however are mostly seen in the creative industries such as in dance, theatre, celebrity commissions, fashion, interior design, crafting, bridal couture, jewellery making, nail art & beauty. The affordability of rhinestones compared to diamonds means that they can be used in their hundreds and thousands to fully encrust clothing, accessories, furniture, costumes, cars, wallpaper and pretty much anything you can think of.
Of course, the most obvious (and heartbreaking) difference between rhinestones and diamonds is the cost to buy. The rarity, mining and perfecting costs, popularity and high demand all contribute to the reason why diamonds are so expensive to buy.
Whereas the affordability of rhinestones is why we seen them in lots of different industries, including fine jewellery making which is more common now than diamond jewellery.
There is a variation in cost of rhinestones when you break it down by brand: Swarovski being the most expensive option, followed by Preciosa, then Zodiac. There are cheaper rhinestones available, but these are of lesser quality and made of a cheaper material such as plastic resin or acrylic.
Conclusion & FAQ’s
To recap, the main differences between rhinestones and diamonds are:
- Material source: Diamonds are a natural material, whereas rhinestones are man-made.
- Cost: Diamonds are many times more expensive than rhinestones.
- Variety: Rhinestones are produced in a huge array of colours, shapes and sizes.
Are diamonds better than rhinestones?
Rhinestones and diamonds are both beautiful, but they have different properties and uses. Diamonds are natural gemstones that are very hard and durable, while rhinestones are artificial gems made from glass or plastic. Because they are man-made, rhinestones are much less expensive than diamonds.
Diamonds are often used in fine jewellery, while rhinestones are often used in costume jewellery or to decorate clothing and accessories. Rhinestones can also be used to create imitation diamond jewellery, which can be a more affordable option for people who want the look of diamonds without the high price tag.
How can you tell the difference between diamonds and rhinestones?
There are a few ways to tell the difference between diamonds and rhinestones.
Hardness: Diamonds are one of the hardest substances on Earth, while rhinestones are much softer. If you try to scratch a diamond with a knife, it will not leave a mark. However, if you try to scratch a rhinestone, it will likely leave a scratch.
Clarity: Diamonds are typically very clear, while rhinestones may have inclusions or bubbles.
Sparkle: Diamonds have a unique sparkle that is caused by the way they refract light. Rhinestones may also sparkle, but their sparkle is not as bright or intense as the sparkle of diamonds.
Price: Diamonds are much more expensive than rhinestones. If a piece of jewellery is very inexpensive, it is likely that the stones are rhinestones.
Do rhinestones sparkle like diamonds?
Rhinestones can sparkle, but their sparkle is not as bright or intense as the sparkle of diamonds. This is because diamonds have a higher refractive index than rhinestones, which means that they bend light more. This bending of light is what causes diamonds to sparkle.
Why are rhinestones so cheap?
Rhinestones are cheap because they are man-made and do not require the same time and effort to mine and process as diamonds. Rhinestones are also made of less expensive materials than diamonds.
Does rhinestone jewellery fade?
Rhinestone jewellery can fade over time, especially if it is exposed to sunlight or harsh chemicals. To prevent your rhinestone jewellery from fading, store it in a cool, dark place and avoid wearing it when you are swimming or showering.
Is Swarovski a rhinestone or diamond?
Swarovski is a type of crystal glass that is often used to make rhinestones. Swarovski crystals are known for their high quality and sparkle. However, not all Swarovski crystals are rhinestones. Swarovski crystals are also used to make other types of jewellery, such as chandeliers and figurines.
Do rhinestones have any value?
Rhinestones do have some value, but they are not as valuable as diamonds. Rhinestones can be used to make costume jewellery or to decorate clothing and accessories. Rhinestones can also be used to create imitation diamond jewellery, which can be a more affordable option for people who want the look of diamonds without the high price tag.
Is rhinestone a fake diamond?
Rhinestones are often used to create imitation diamond jewellery. However, rhinestones are not real diamonds. Rhinestones are made of glass or plastic, while diamonds are natural gemstones.
How long do rhinestones last?
Rhinestones can last for many years, but they may eventually become scratched or fade. To extend the life of your rhinestone jewellery, store it in a cool, dark place and avoid wearing it when you are swimming or showering.
Which is better Cubic Zirconia or rhinestones?
Cubic Zirconia and rhinestones are both artificial gems that are used to imitate diamonds. Cubic Zirconia is a harder and more durable material than rhinestones. Cubic Zirconia also has a higher refractive index than rhinestones, which means that it sparkles more. However, Cubic Zirconia is also more expensive than rhinestones.
Ultimately, the best choice for you will depend on your budget and your needs. If you are looking for a more affordable option, rhinestones are a good choice. If you are looking for a more durable and sparkly option, Cubic Zirconia is a better choice.
Explore a vast collection of rhinestones from different brands to suit your requirements and budget, and have fun getting creative with Crystal Parade!