An introduction to the world of Preciosa Rhinestones

Preciosa is well known in the industry for their high quality cut glass and crystal components. Along with the likes of Swarovski, Zodiac and other rhinestone brands, Preciosa have a huge range of flatback stones which can applied, with heat or glue, to almost any surface. Flatback non hotfix and hotfix gems are hugely popular in creative industries such as dance, bridal, jewellery design, dressmaking, fashion, costume design, nail art and textiles, but are also becoming increasingly popular among non-professionals, beginners and hobbyists. We’ve seen flatback rhinestones being used to embellish all sorts of weird and wonderful objects; marmite jars, mannequins, cars, garden gnomes, animal skulls, cricket balls and even wheelbarrows! Check out a recent bespoke project we took on for Love Island’s Nas & Eva:

What is the difference between Viva12 and Maxima rhinestones?

Preciosa have two styles of flatback rhinestone: Viva12 and Maxima. To look at and work with, they are very similar, both are round stones with a foil backing. The difference is the number of facets (cuts) the stone has.

Viva12 Viva12 crystals have 12 facets (cuts) which offer a fantastic sparkle. The job of these facets is to reflect light at different angles which creates the dazzling starlight effect you see when the light hits them. The Viva12 crystals are available in every colour and coating from sizes SS5 (1.8mm) to SS48 (11mm). We stock these rhinestones in both small pack quantities, ideal for one off or smaller projects, and wholesale packs, ideal for larger scale projects and trade customers.

MaximaMaxima crystals were launched by Preciosa just a few years ago, and are an updated version of Viva12. Maxima rhinestones from size SS5 (1.8mm) to SS20 (5mm) have 15 facets, the larger sizes from SS30 (6mm) upwards have 18 facets and these are often used by people looking for maximum sparkle, imitating that of Swarovski. For this reason, Maxima crystals come at a higher price than Viva12, although to look at, they are almost identical.

What are the differences between colours, effects and coatings?

Preciosa produce an amazing array of colours, effects and coatings in their flatback crystal range. Here we will guide you through each of these and how they can be used:

  • Clear Crystal – This is a colourless, diamond effect stone, with a mirrored foil backing to reflect the light. It is one of our most popular colours as it adds a luxury feel to whatever you’re crystallizing. Clear rhinestones are often used for nail art, card making, bridal design, jewellery making, fashion and many other crafts. Because of its colourless nature, clear crystals can be used on almost anything and will work with every other colour.

  • AB Crystal – AB (Aurora Borealis) gets its name from the natural phenomenon that occurs in certain skies at night known as the Northern Lights. It is a coated crystal that has a rainbow effect, much like a soap bubble, or sometimes described as an ‘oil on water’ effect. This is the most popular colour by far, especially in the performing arts world, the stunning AB coated crystal reflects light superbly and looks gorgeous under spotlights. The coating reflects the colours that surround it so use against pale colours for pinks, purples, pale blue and golds to shine through. Or use on a darker background to see greens, yellows and darker shades of blue. It is most commonly used in nail art, bridalwear, dance dresses, costume design and fashion. Like the Clear crystal, AB crystals work with any other colour so the possibilities are endless.

  • Special Effects/Coatings – Special effect crystals, also known as rhinestone coatings, are where a thin layer of material has been laid over the top of the crystal, coating it, to create an unusual effect. This could be metallic, iridescent or two-tone. These special effect crystals often give off more sparkle, looking amazing under the lights and are mainly used by nail technicians and Irish dance dressmakers.

  • Neon – Neon rhinestones are only available in the Maxima range, they are bright and bold as the name suggests and even glow in the dark! Neon crystals are perfect for creating eye catching designs within nail art, Irish dance and costume and jewellery making and are the current trend for summer ’22.

  • Standard Colour – Standard colours make up the majority of the range, these are crystals that are just one colour throughout and have no effect or coating over the top. If you’re looking for a simple block colour in a variety of shades, go for one of these. Examples of standard colours are Light Siam (red), Fuchsia (pink), Citrine (yellow), Sapphire (blue) and Peridot (green). These are great for adding a splash of colour to your project and are used predominantly in costume making, Irish dance dresses, card making and general craft projects. You can choose between bright bold shades, pastel vintage style shades or neutral tones – they really do spoil us for choice!

How to select the best Preciosa flatback rhinestones for your project.

  • Hotfix or Non Hotfix? - First take a look at the surface you will be applying the rhinestones to and decide if you need Hotfix or Non Hotfix. Hotfix rhinestones are suitable for most surfaces, although we wouldn't recommend using them on glass or plastic due to the heat from the applicator. Non Hotfix rhinestones can be applied to almost any surface with Gem Tac or E6000 glue, making this the most popular application method.

Next think about the scale of your project; if you are crystallizing multiple objects or have lots of garments to be embellished such as for a theatre production or dance competition, using the hotfix method is quicker, plus there is no mess as you are not having to use glue. Hotfix rhinestones, also referred to as iron on crystals, are popular among costume designers and dress makers because there is less chance of glue leaking onto the fabric, and once you invest in a hotfix applicator wand it can be used for future projects.

If the project is smaller or just a one off, for example adding crystals to a greetings card or pair of shoes, then non hotfix is the way to go. It is more cost effective, as non hotfix rhinestones are cheaper to buy, plus you don't have to invest in a hotfix applicator tool. Non hotfix, also known as glue on rhinestones, are commonly used for nail art, papercraft, small scale costume embellishment, interior design and many other craft projects.

  • Choosing the right colour for your project – With the huge choice of colours and coatings on offer in the Preciosa range, it can be hard to decide which colour to choose. Luckily, we can guide you through finding the perfect colour for your project. Firstly, you can order a handy colour chart from Crystal Parade to see all the colours, coatings and effects available. Or if you have an idea of colour but would like to see the different shades available, you can speak to one of our team who will happily send free samples. Alternatively, if you have a piece of fabric and you would like to match, you can send an image or a sample of the fabric to us and we will do an exact match for you.

Don’t worry if you have no idea where to start when it comes to choosing the perfect colour, here are a few useful tips and ideas to try:

  1. Look at the Pantone Colour of the Year – this will tell you which colour is on trend each year and may give you a good starting point.
  2. Check out what other people in your industry are doing on social media; fashion designers and nail technicians often work with many different colours so take a look and see what works for you.
  3. Take inspiration from your surroundings and interests. Designers often use ideas from nature, the time of year, events in the calendar or travel to create themes and colourways in their work. Seasons are a popular starting point for many people – use pastel and neutral shades in the springtime, bright bold colours in summer, deep warm jewel-tones in Autumn and cool shades of blue, silver and white during the winter. By creating these colourways, you can tell a story or take a journey through your design.

  • Selecting the correct size for your project – When it comes to flatback round rhinestones, there are many different sizes to choose from. The smallest sizes SS2 (1.1mm) - SS10 (3mm) are generally used by beauticians and nail artists for adding subtle sparkle to manicures, eyelashes and make-up. SS10 (3mm) - SS16 (4mm) are usually used to embellish clothing, greetings cards, wedding veils, fashion accessories, mobile phone cases and decorative objects in general. For ball gowns, freestyle dance dresses, theatre costumes, bikinis, drag or burlesque costumes sizes SS16 (4mm) - SS20 (5mm) are usually used. And the larger sizes SS30 (6mm) - SS48 (11mm) are mostly used for crystallizing Irish dance dresses or larger objects such as furniture, cars, interior design pieces. Take a look at our handy size chart for more detailed information on all crystal sizes.

Expert tips for working with Preciosa rhinestones

  • Practice applying the rhinestones to a spare piece of paper/fabric before you start your project, this will help you get an idea of how much glue to use and how much pressure to apply.
  • Use specifically designed tools to help the process such as a Crystal Katana pick up tool rather than fiddly tweezers, storage potsfor keeping the rhinestones neat and orderly, Gem Tac glue – our #1 bestselling adhesive and Application Syringe with Precision Tip for applying glue neatly.
  • If possible, work in the natural daylight as artificial lighting makes it harder to see especially when using smaller rhinestones.
  • Make sure your hands are clean when working with rhinestones - grease marks will show up and dull the sparkle.
  • Spend a little more money to purchase a high quality rhinestone. The last thing you want is peeling stones, dis-colouration or scratches.
  • Once you've applied the rhinestones and the glue is dry, use a damp cloth to give them a polish - it will make a huge difference.
  • If you need more help on which type of rhinestones to use, advice on colours, sizes or application method, please contact your crystal supplier Crystal Parade - Swarovski and Preciosa UK | Crystal Parade

Check out our blog for more expert guides, How To’s and inspirational tips and tricks.

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