What is a rhinestone? What are different types of rhinestones?

If you pay more attention on the jewelry, bags or apparel, you will find rhinestones are everywhere!

Rhinestones are shiny and eye-catching and they are great for adding sparkle to accessories. They look like diamonds but are not diamonds. What is a rhinestones? What is the definition of rhinestones? What are different types of rhinestones?

what is a rhinestone-types of rhinestones

In this article, we are going answer these questions for you. If you are trying to add rhinestones to your project, these basic knowledge about rhinestones might be helpful for you.

Table of Contents

Rhinestone Definition

The definition of rhinestones is “An imitation diamond, used in cheap jewellery and to decorate clothes.” according to Oxford dictionary.

Besides, according to Merriam Webster, America’s leading and most-trusted provider of language information, rhinestone is “imitation stone of high luster made of glass, paste, or gem quartz.”


We can tell from its definition that the word ”rhinestone” can be used widely. From the high-grade Swarovski crystal to normal glass stones or inexpensive plastic stones like acrylic or resin material, they can all be called as rhinestones.

The Origin of Rhinestone

The original rhinestones were small, sparkling Quartz stones found in the Rhine River, Austria, in the 13th century. The name rhinestone comes from the discovery of crystals that were gathered from the Rhine River. Rhinestones are mass produced until 18th century when the founder of Swarovski, Daniel Swarovski, invented machine for cutting and faceting crystal stones.

Over the past few decades, different types of rhinestones like glass rhinestones or plastic stones are produced. Rhinestones become more accessible and are widely used by designers.

Different Types of Rhinestones

There are many different types of rhinestones. What is the difference? We want to give a brief introduction on how are the rhinestones classified by the method of application, the back of the rhinestones and the material.

Differentiate by the Method of Application

There are many different types of rhinestones. What is the difference? We want to give a brief introduction on how are the rhinestones classified by the method of application, the back of the rhinestones and the material.


1. Flat Back Hot-Fix Rhinestones

  • mostly glass material
  • mainly small-sized, flatback round rhinestones
  • applied by heat press, highly efficient
  • all kinds of patterns you like

Hot Fix stones, also called iron on rhinestones, have a heat activated glue already adhered to a back. To apply these stones, the glue must be activated by heat and then applied to appropriate material. The rhinestones will be attached to fabric when we use iron or heat them.

Most Hot Fix stones are glass rhinestones flatback in round, small-sized shapes. Due to the limited heat resistance of the acrylic and resin rhinestones, they are not easy to work with. There are hardly Hot Fix rhinestones in plastic material.

For more detailed information, please visit our post “Are Rhinestones Plastic? Resin vs. Acrylic Rhinestones

2. Glue-on Flat Back Rhinestones

  • comes in both glass and plastic
  • various shapes and colors
  • Applied by glue. Hard work and time consuming

Apply the rhinestone on the objects by glue. It does not require great techniques to create the patterns you desire. Compared to the Hot Fix rhinestones, there are more options of the shapes and the colors. They are also great materials to use on rhinestones jewelry. 

3. Sew on Rhinestones

  • comes in glass and plastic
  • mostly flatbacks, multiple shapes
  • Applied by sewing. Hard work and time consuming
  • rhinestones for clothes, dresses
  • various shapes and colors

Sew on rhinestones are used by sewn on. They are mostly flat back and with holes on the sides or in the middle. Thus, they can be sewn on easily. The advantage of sewing method is that these flat rhinestones can strongly attached to fabric and won’t fall off easily. However, it takes lot of time and effort.

Besides the glass sew on rhinestones, there are plastic stones as well, such as acrylic and resin rhinestones. The collections provide even more shapes and colors.

4. Claw Rhinestones

  • comes in glass and plastic
  • Applied by sewing. Hard work and time consuming
  • rhinestones for clothing, dresses, shoes& bags
  • various shapes and colors

Claw rhinestones, also called stone in claw settings, are rhinestone with sew-on base. There are both flat back and pointed back rhinestone settings and mountings. The claw on the base will firmly hold the rhinestone. There are holes on the back of the base so you can sew the rhinestone to garments, shoes, bags, accessories easily. The claw rhinestones are hold with the metal claw which makes it different from the sew on stones.

There are wide selections for claw rhinestones such as various shapes, colors, and material.

5. Rim Setting (sew on setting)

Another collection of rhinestones with sew on setting. The metal rim with sew-on holes on the back hugs the edge of rhinestones.

what is a rhinestone-stone in rim settings

6. Mounting

The rhinestones are embedded in the mechanical mounts with prongs in the back that can go through the clothing to the back of the fabric and bend over. They are widely used on leather goods and shoes. There are different types of mounting like Tiffany mounts and rim sets.

Differentiate by the Backside of Rhinestones

Pointed Back Rhinestones

Rhinestones with pointed back was designed to imitate the look of diamond. The pointed back makes the rhinestones shine even more, which makes them look brilliant and dazzling.

Flat Back Rhinestones

The same cutting flat back crystals rhinestones will shine less, compared to the same cutting rhinestone with a pointed back. However, the feature, flatback, makes it easy to glue on the things you want to decorate.

Pointed Back Rhinestones
flat back acrylic rhinestones bulk round
Flat Back Stones

Looking for flat back rhinestones? Check catalogue or get pricelist.

Differentiate by Rhinestone Material

Glass Rhinestones

The glass rhinestones are made of glass and formed by machine cutting. The glass itself is transparent. Manufacturers will put a layer of metal coating onto the backside of the stones so light is able to reflect and make rhinestones shine like a diamond.

Crystal Rhinestones

When the lead oxide is added to glass, a crystal is produced. The lead enhances the sparkle of the crystal and helps to reflect the colors better than pure glass. The higher the lead content, the better the quality of the crystal. Glass must have at least a one percent lead content to be classified as crystal in the United States. In Europe, the lead content must be at least four percent to be classified as a crystal. Crystal rhinestones such as Swarovski and Preciosa Crystal are more expensive than glass rhinestones.

Plastic Rhinestones

Plastic rhinestones are also called “plastic gems” and “imitation stones”. They are mass production, low cost, lead-free, light and do not easily break. If you need a large number of rhinestone with a low budget, plastic rhinestones are great for you. There are two kinds of plastic stones: acrylic and resin.

Acrylic Rhinestones

Acrylic rhinestones are formed by mold injection. The acrylic material is transparent, easy for molding, light and unbreakable. They can easily be mass produced in various shapes, sizes, and colors of rhinestones.

Resin Rhinestones

Resin rhinestones are made by dripping the resin into the silicon mold. This way, manufacturers are able to make the stone with complex designs on the surface.

Differentiate by Place of Origin

We sometimes name the rhinestones after the place it is made in. Swarovski rhinestone is originated in Austria, so we call it “Austrian crystal”. As for Preciosa, it is call Czech rhinestones. There are also Egyptian rhinestones, Chinese rhinestones and Taiwanese rhinestone.

Differentiate by the Surface


Cabochon rhinestones are usually half round. There are also oval, navette and drop shapes. All cabochon collection come in many special shades, such as pearl effect, opal colors, opaque colors, etc.


Chessboard rhinestones are stones with checker cutting. Besides the shape round, there are shapes, like oval, navette and drop.


Chanton rhinestones come in both flatback and pointed back. Every Brand has its own signature cutting technique and patens. Cutting like 8 facets, 12 facetes, 15 facetes, etc.

Rivoli Rhinestones

Both the front and the rear of the rhinestone is pointed. The symmetrical design is very unique.

In addition to the categories above, we can also classify the rhinestones by colors and shapes.

green and red rhinestones for jewelry-2
what is a rhinestone-flat back chanton
rivoli rhinestones
rivoli rhinestones

Choose the Rhinestones Suitable for you

Regardless of the diversified options of the rhinestones, choosing the proper rhinestones for you is the most important.

For instance, if you need them on the fabrics, you can choose sew-on collections and Hot Fix kinds. If it is more of a high-end project, Swarovski will be a great fit. On the other hand, acrylic rhinestones will be a great choice for the mass project on a budget.

We would suggest you choose the rhinestones based on how you want to apply the stones, the style you are going and the budget.


If you are sourcing for the rhinestones with multiple shapes and colors. Why not acrylic rhinestone? They are low cost and great for any kind of designs.

SUNMEI is a specialized manufacturer of acrylic rhinestone and button for over 20 years. We provide a wide selections of acrylic rhinestones and buttons. Visit our product page and find out more styles!

Looking for more information? We can help you!

SUNMEI provides a wide range of catalogues and free samples. Get in touch now. We would be happy to help!


SUNMEI is a specialized manufacturer of acrylic rhinestone and button for over 20 years. We provide a wide selections of acrylic rhinestones and buttons. Visit our product page and find out more styles!