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Rhinestone Basics: Shapes, Colors and Sizes

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Rhinestone Basics: Shapes, Colors and Sizes

The purpose of this article is to familiarize our customers with the basic shapes, colors and sizes of rhinestones on the market today. In many cases, the items we discuss will not be found on the Rhinestone Biz website, but are described to illustrate the history and tradition of the rhinestone industry and how the past impacts the current market.


  • Roses are round flat-back rhinestones. The ‘traditional’ Rose is set onto fabric with a rhinestone setter using either Tiffany prong or rim set settings, or glued to the fabric (or other surface) using one of several adhesives specially made for the purpose. Adhesives are discussed in a different article.
  • Lochrosen are round flat back rhinestones with a hole in the center for sewing to the material; this is usually done via a small bead which serves to hold the stone in place and to accent the rhinestone. These stones are usually found in clothing design. Lochrosen can be glued to the fabric, but do not have a foil back so the typical flat back shimmer will not be achieved
  • Flat Back Sew-On (Edge-Hole) Rhinestones come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from round to heart-shape to teardrops, and many more. These stones typically have holes at opposite edges of the stone to allow you to securely sew the stone to the material. Fastening the stone in two places is required for larger stones and odd shapes because of the strain on the stitching Like Lochrosen, Sew-on stones can be glued, but lack a foil back
  • Chatons are round pointed back rhinestones which usually set using a Tiffany prong or rim set settings. These stones cannot be glued to the fabric, however, Chatons have greater depth of color, clarity, and ’sparkle’ than a rose because of the pointed back.
  • Rose Montées are round flat backs (roses) that come premounted in a special very flat metal cup that allows you to securely sew the stone to the material from four directions. These stones are perfect for hand-wired Jeweled Tiaras.
  • Chaton Montées are round pointed back stones which come premounted in a special metal setting that allows you to securely sew the stone to the material from four directions. These stones are more oriented toward jewelry making.


What’s in a name? Naming rhinestone colors is almost like naming colors for paint or crayons. The idea is to capture the object in nature which most resembles the color. With rhinestones, many stone colors are derived from the names of other gems and minerals from which they are inspired.
The Swarovski catalog, which tends to lead the market in color placement, changes annually. To add to the confusion, not every shape/size combination is available in every color. Standard color sets are those stones which run the full spectrum of colors, but are ‘pure’ in the sense that the entire stone has the same color all the way through the material. Effect colors, on the other hand, are stones with coatings and/or backings that modify the base color.
Other manufacturers have begun applying their own effect coatings to standard rhinestones as well. And not all vendors agree on which colors or effects are considered a special effect, or on the name of the particular color or effect. Effect stones are generally more expensive than standard stones. We do not attempt to distinguish between standard colors and effect colors by name – the price says it all.

  • Aurora Borealis (AB) is a coating that adds a rainbow-like effect to the basic stone color, and may somewhat lighten the base color. This effect is most commonly associated with crystal stones, and AB is often the term used to describe ‘Crystal AB’ rhinestones. An AB stone typically enhances the basic color, but at times may also substantially modify the basic color. And, the additional ‘rainbow’ highlights may not always complement the original costume design. The AB effect is available on many Swarovski stones and colors.
  • Satin Finish: These stones have a light Hematite (grey) coating, giving a ’smoky’ effect to the base color.
  • Matte Finish These stones are chemically treated to blur or dull the basic color.
  • There are several additional effect, such as frosted, vacuum coated, double coated or reverse coated.


The two most common gauges for rhinestone sizes are ’ss’ (stone size) and ‘pp’ (pearl plate). The original rhinestone sizing (’pp’) was based on the technique of pearl sizing. Back then, pearls were placed on vertically stacked plates with a series of graduated holes punched in them. As the pearls fell through the holes, they were sized (and priced) according to the last plate they landed on. This is where the designation ‘pp’ comes from. Subsequently, jewelers developed their own sizing formula called ’stone size’ or ’ss’ which essentially achieved the same goal, but used a different scale. Both conventions are still in use today with ‘pp’ more popular in jewelery making where smaller stones are utilized (1.8 mm – 3.1 mm) and ’ss’ more relevant to clothing design where larger stones are employed (up to 11 mm).
In order for manufacturers to keep us on our toes, the ‘pp’ and ’ss’ scores are meant to indicate a size range, not an exact size. However, in most modern stone manufacturing, the stones are made to a specification in millimeters, which leaves little room for interpretation. Obviously there are going to be some variations in any manufacturing process, but size does not seem to be a factor.


Written by rhinestonebiz

December 29, 2007 at 11:23 pm

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