Rhinestones and Such
It is time to voice my opinions as to the state of this industry. I have been in this business a very long time and have lots of practical knowledge I will share with you.
!!! WARNING !!!
All quality rhinestones are LEAD CRYSTAL ! The amount of lead within the rhinestones we sell range from 23% -30% LEAD by weight! Lead crystal is very soft compared to glass, and in the presence of even mildly acidic solutions, lead is leached from these rhinestones. Lead is very poisonous! Make no mistake about it, Lead is poisonous. Do NOT apply rhinestones with our fingers...as in licking your finger, touching a rhinestone, and applying, then repeating the process! Under normal use, rhinestones are wonderful. BUT! Use common sense here! Use applicator sticks to handle these things, wash your hands after handling them.
State and Federal Laws have become strict on the use of Lead-containing "anything" on children's clothing (age 12 and younger). Learn these laws and observe them. For further info, read what I have written under "lead ...etc. " here on this site.
I am not writing this article to alarm anyone. I handle rhinestones daily, but our entire crew observes sane approaches to these things. WE hope you understand that I write this to prevent any un-necessary exposure to lead. And, I am sure that my competitors will either down play or deny any danger in the handling of these items, but Rhinestone Guy believes Better Safe Than Sorry. Thanks for the listen.
Swarovski or Czech Machine-Cut Rhinestones?
Great changes have been happening in the rhinestone industry recently. In my opinion, my clients are best served by Czech Preciosa rhinestones for almost all applications. These stones are less expensive, are as bright, and in many instances, brighter than are Swarovski. The difference is not in the lead crystal, but in the cuts. Czech Preciosa has dropped 8 facet cut for a new cut, the VIVA, with 12 facets around the flat table (top.) Today, there is very little visual difference between Swarovski and Czech Preciosa. IF you are creating costumes to be seen at distance, ask for the older 8 facet Preciosa...if we have it, it will flash better at distance than either the Swarovski Xillion cut or the Preciosa VIVA cut. Sadly, the 8 facet stone is disappearing quickly.
We have a new stone ...RGA...and in our opinion, there is little reason to select any stone but the RGA when you are dealing with the color, Crystal or Crystal AB. It is available in glue-on/mount Crystal and Crystaly AB. Remarkable stone for the price!
For costuming, anything but only the highest priced evening wear is best served by Preciosa rhinestones (Machine Cut). The light reflected is far more dramatic. Swarovski, in my opinion, should be reserved for the clothing that uses very small rhinestones as decorative trim. AND, money saved is money earned.
Swarovski has done such a good job of brain washing the general public that most people think Swarovski is the only stone to use... not true. Your results in horse-show applications, skating costumes, dance costumes, in fact, just about everything, is better in Czech Preciosa. This company has greatly overhauled their equipment, has all new cutting machines, and concentrates on very fine AB coatings. In the past, I was not all that thrilled with this stone, but I am greatly impressed with the new products. The Preciosa stone is available in two types (not under your or my control)....8 facet (our preference) and the newer VIVA12 facet (a gorgeous stone.) The 8 facet will fade on the horizon, for it is no longer made (sad, but true.)
Unless a color you require is made only by Swarovski, I seriously advise the use of Preciosa rhinestones. The AB coated stones by Preciosa are extremely fine, with thinner coatings for more color and less "all look alike" effects. I prefer the subtleness of the Czech rhinestones. AND, the quality control has improved so greatly that I cannot advise spending the extra money on Swarovski when Czech stones look every bit as good, and in most cases, better.
For Cell phones, move to the 10 SS Czech stones, for these look great on phones and come in a wide array of colors.
For belts and collars, use only Czech stones, as they are harder, do not crush or scratch as easily as do Swarovski. When using setting equipment, you will have better success with Preciosa, as they are harder and you will have fewer mishaps during the setting process.
I am seeing far too big a latitude in Swarovski rhinestones from lot to lot. This is especially true in the AB coated rhinestones. We never know what we are going to get when we order these stones. Czech is much more consistent from batch to batch. Warning: there are rhinestone colors we must warn you about: Swarovski Meridian Blue varies greatly from lot to lot, some being blue/green, others being blue/brown/magenta. We have no control over these items. The other color is Czech Bermuda Blue...all stones have a blue/green effect, but some lots are darker than others.
PURCHASE the sample card BEFORE you order rhinestones! This card has all Swarovski and Czech rhinestones on it...actual rhinestones, not pictures! You will be amazed at how good the Czech stones are.
If you are working with costumes, and your coach says "buy Swarovski," unless this is formation work where several costumes will be on display at one time, then use your own judgment and purchase what makes better sense ...Preciosa! Of course, if your coach is footing the bill for these rhinestones, buy what he/she wants and let him/her pay for them.
I make more money by selling Swarovski than I do with Preciosa, but in fairness to my clients, buy Czech Preciosa. Please note...this stone comes in several different grades ...purchase only grade ONE! We do not carry factory 2nds, even though they are much less expensive to us. I cannot supply stones I do not believe in. Be very careful from whom you purchase...not everyone is as picky about what they sell as I am.
HEAT SET RHINESTONES:
These rhinestones already have the glue on their backs, ready to mount with the right heat and pressure. They come in various grades, as do Non-Heat Set rhinestones.
In addition to the Swarovski and Czech Preciosa, we offer our own brand, made to our specifications ...these rhinestones are great looking and priced better than either Swarovski or Czech. Do not be fooled by the price, the Lead-Crystal Machine-Cut rhinestones we have made are really an excellent stone. WE also offer a double cut version of this stone and it is a great value for its cost. One of the nice things about being The Rhinestone Guy is that we can specify how and what we want from manufacturers, we pay no advertising fees, and we get exactly what we prefer. The costs are kept low, and these low costs are reflected in our prices to you. To find these stones, click on "Rhinestone Guy Heat Set Rhinestones" on our home page, under "Heat Set Rhinestones." RGA rhinestones are high-lead machine cut rhinestones, very high quality at a very reasonable cost.
GROSS: a gross is a unit of measurement...it is consistent, there is no "How many are in YOUR gross." A gross is a gross, no matter who tells you what! A gross literally means, 12 dozen. (that figures out to be 144 each). I don't care if the gross is of 5SS or 48SS, it is still 144 rhinestones. NOW, in fairness, we cannot count out these stones. WE weigh them ...therefore, a few of you will get 143, 142 stones, a few of you will get 145, 146 stones...It is an average, not that precise. We cannot afford to spend the time in actual counting, but we weigh these stones as accurately as possible. If you are shorted a stone or two, you will probably be 'overed' in the next package...that is just how this business operates. Now, if you are shorted lots of stones...20 or more, that is an issue. But a stone or 2 is not an issue. Phil
The BeDazzler is a plastic setter that comes with different heads to set 20SS and 34SS rhinestones with Tiffany mounts, 20SS, 30SS, 34SS, and 40SS nail heads. Do not expect this unit to hold up for the long haul. But, it has its place in the industry. It is a very difficult unit to locate, for again, the factory is somewhat independent and seems to ignore any kind of order, large or small. Be aware that the BeDazzler no longer is packaged in a pretty box! It comes in a brown cardboard box stamped "BDZZLR." This is not a knock off unit...who would want to knock off a cheap setter???
The RG Pro Setter is a commercial quality unit that sets 16SS, 20SS, 30SS, and 34SS rim-set rhinestones and the same size nail heads. IT comes with all dies required to set these sizes. It will NOT set any other sizes of rhinestones or nail heads. It is a high quality unit. This unit will set rhinestones ONLY with rim settings, and sets right side up!
The HAND PRESS is a commercial piece of equipment, is expensive, uses expensive dies, and is not designed for the casual user. Do not purchase this equipment if all you are doing is setting a few items. In fact, I advise this machine for very few people. IF you are in a cottage industry atmosphere, go straight to the FOOT PRESS! This equipment leaves both hands free to handle your work. The hand press must be mounted to a table, and in my opinion, leaving only one hand free to guide the fabric, is a real problem.
For those of you setting only an item or two, do it by hand! It isn't that difficult.
Heat Setting Tools:
For those of you who set one stone at a time, purchase the Kandi Kane Pro. In our opinion, it is the best unit on the market, comes will all tips you will need, and it is inexpensive. We carry this unit because we have tried them all and this one works better than others we have tried. Once you have the knack of using it, mounting is easy and relatively fast. PLEASE NOTE: for those of you setting 16SS, 20SS, 30SS, 34SS, and 40SS HF rhinestones, choose the HOT FIXER (34.95)...it is extremely fast, it cannot be used with stones smaller than listed...designed to set large stones only.
For those of you who are producing your own transfers, mounting any kind of transfer on a regular basis, or applying large amounts of rhinestones to clothing, go to a heat press...far more control over what you are doing, fast, easy. WE prefer the Jet 14 for ease of use. This unit is great for the Cottage Industry. Unless money is a strong dictator, don't bother with the Jet 12, it is a swing away but is somewhat clumsy to use. If mounting is part of your business, and you do a lot of it, go straight to the DK series...a clam shell unit that is very fast to use.