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Posts Tagged ‘crystal rhinestones

Free Shipping: Does it Really Save You Money?

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Ah, free shipping! Is it the greatest invention of the 21st century, or an election year gimmick to get your web viewing attention? I suppose it all depends on your definition of the word ‘free‘. Webster says that, among other things, ‘free’ means: ‘not costing anything‘. When was the last time you sent a package to a friend or relative and the shipper delivered it ‘without costing anything’? I am going to guess that this has never happened to you. If one defines free as any blank space on an invoice where the shipping charges are normally are applied, then your world is simple and blissful.

Check Your Receipt

Unfortunately, nothing is free, especially shipping; we live in a world where oil is now $100 a barrel and fuel prices are rising daily. Shipping is a significant portion of the cost of any product, whether it is delivered to you or you pick it up at the store.

If I were an online merchant and used the ‘FREE SHIPPING’ term in all of my advertising, and all over my store to entice customers, I would need to have a plan for recovering my shipping costs. And since the only three charges on an online invoice are merchandise, tax and shipping and most people know what their local tax rate is, the only place to make up the difference is in the price of the merchandise.

Now the question for the merchant becomes how much more to charge for each item and what break-even methodology to use. I could charge a whole bunch more on each item (say 10%) so that I recover my cost on even the smallest orders, or I could charge less (maybe 5%) and establish a threshold for the free shipping (perhaps $50 or $100). Both of these work out great (if you are the merchant.) If the merchant uses the first method, the customer pays more than they should on any large order, and when the merchant uses the second method, the customer pays more than they should on small orders. Wow, how disappointing.

Do the Homework

We have shown that there at least two different ways of achieving the goal of ‘free shipping’. Combine this with the more traditional (OK, boring) method of charging explicit rates for shipping; now we have three ways of buying. If I am the average consumer, the reason I am shopping and buying online is because I am busy and don’t want to be bothered with the hassle of picking up items which could otherwise be delivered. Interestingly, Webster also defines free as: ‘relieved from or lacking something and especially something unpleasant or burdensome‘. Well, there you go! As an online shopper, you are immediately free from the burden of picking up your merchandise. Since you have all this extra time to fritter away, why not do some comparison shopping. I would advocate the use of comparison shopping whenever possible to shed some light on the full cost of doing business at any site which advertises ‘free shipping’.

How Bad Could it Be?

This depends on your definition of the word ‘bad’ … I did some comparison shopping yesterday, using our online store and four of our competitors. The first one used a $100 threshold for free shipping, the other three had free shipping with no minimum order.

To demonstrate a meaningful comparison, we chose the top four competitive sites as ranked by Google’s (organic) results for such as high volume terms as ‘flatback rhinestones‘, ‘hotfix rhinestones‘, ‘crystal rhinestones‘, or ‘bulk rhinestones‘. Each site consistently appears on the first or second page of results for all of these terms.

Here is what we used for our market basket comparison:

  • 1 Gross Swarovski Flat Back 12ss Standard Color (not AB or Crystal Coated)
  • 1 Gross Swarovski Flat Back 16ss Standard Color (not AB or Crystal Coated)
  • 5 Gross Swarovski Flat Back 20ss Crystal Clear
  • 3 Gross Swarovski Flat Back 20ss Standard Color (Not AB or Crystal Coated)
  • 1 Each Gem-Tac Adhesive 3.7 oz.

Here is how they stacked up:

  • RhinestoneBiz: $96.41
  • Competitor-1: $102.35 (this one had the $100 free ship threshold)
  • Competitor-2: $111.22
  • Competitor-3: $133.27
  • Competitor-4: $158.54

As you can see, the competitor who uses the threshold (cost recovery method #2) came the closest in price, and those that had no minimum (overcharge for everything) did poorly or miserably.

Could it Get Any Worse For the Competition?

Unfortunately, it can. One important ‘feature’ which is not advertised on the sites which claim to have free shipping is that each of the free-ship sites utilizes USPS Regular Mail as the delivery method in the U.S. Because there is a bottle of glue in the scenario above, the shipment in question is likely to go over the 13 ounce mark and require USPS Priority Mail. There would need to be an adjustment to the final price because of the difference in price between USPS Priority Mail and USPS First-Class Mail.

Summary

We have shown how sites advertising free shipping can charge you 10% – 50% (or more) than you should be paying and don’t offer an acceptable transit time or insurance on your order. If you are looking for a wide selection of rhinestones in any quantity, please do your comparison shopping. I am absolutely convinced that you will find the selection, price and delivery terms at Rhinestone Biz will beat any competition.

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.

Shapes

  • 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.

Colors

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.

Sizes

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

Decorating Your Flip-flops with Rhinestones

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Flip-flops can be made of different materials; rubber, vinyl and polyurethane. Rubber is a better material to work with in almost all cases and we recommend you purchase footwear with rubber straps if possible before you start the gluing. This is due to the fact that its surface shine is inherent in the material and not added by placing a top coat of another, less ‘gluable’ material.

In order to obtain the best adhesion from your glue, you should take a minute to prepare the straps to both remove the shine from the material and level the surface. Removing the shine can be accomplished easily by using a nylon scouring pad (the dark green side of a two-sided kitchen sponge), a little water and a few strokes back and forth.

Leveling the surface is a bit trickier and may be required if the straps have a deep pattern on them or if there is a brand name logo on them. If this is the case, you may actually want to use a small hand tool (like a Dremel tool) to remove the pattern or logo. In either case, you should then remove any residue with a little isopropyl alcohol and a clean, lint-free cloth (i.e., not a paper towel). Let the straps dry.

A very popular scheme for the rhinestones on the strap is to line them up, three across. Should you use this layout, you will probably use 16ss rhinestones for best coverage. You can design your pattern around this scheme. If you want to use a larger stone (20ss), you may have to move to a honeycomb pattern. This looks nice as well.

Once you have decided on the scheme and pattern, apply a little adhesive and set the stones one at a time. There are various techniques for applying adhesive on the straps. One involves covering the entire surface with adhesive, the other targets each stone. The ‘shot-gun’ approach is done by covering about an inch of material at a time, by spreading the adhesive over the entire width/length of the strap. This is obviously faster, but reveals the glue in areas around the stones on the completed shoe. If you apply the glue in an even enough thickness, it may actually not be that noticeable, since the glue should dry clear.

The other approach involves a tooth pick or a syringe to apply the glue in the exact location of each stone. This will take longer to accomplish, but will leave a cleaner looking strap and may actually prevent multiple stones from falling off in the event there is a weakening of the bond. Allow the glue to dry completely before wearing the flip-flops, to be safe, this will take several days to about a week (please be patient.)

For a complete selection of 16ss and 20ss flat back rhinestones, please our Rhinestone Biz website.

Written by rhinestonebiz

November 29, 2007 at 7:08 pm