I've been buying, wearing, cherishing and selling hair accessories for many years. Even as a child I was fascinated with ponytail holders and barrettes which shimmered and sparkled, courtesy of crystals, rhinestones and similar glass based decorations.
Crystal is a very high-quality glass that can be colored, cut and faceted for a magnificent brilliant finish. The term crystal can also refer to colorless semiprecious quartz stone or rock crystals.
(Shown - gorgeous tulle Tarina Tarantino Bubble Pop Star Anywhere Clip Crystal hair clips features authentic Aurora Borealis Swarovski (AB) Crystals. Flower measure approximately 2.5" across and features a salon-style clip on the back for hair, handbag or other convenient uses. Image courtesy of HairBoutique.com)
How Crystals Are Made
This high quality glass is an important component in all jewelry and accessory designing and beading (encrusting) because there is an enormous variety of shapes and sizes available from round multifaceted, bicone, cube and teardrop to designer-shaped pendants such as stars, hearts, butterflies and crosses.
(Shown to the side - Tarina Tarantino Jubilee Swarovski Crystal Pave Bangle - This custom hand crafted bangle is chock full of an array of some of the most beautiful Swarovski Crystals available - Image courtesy of HairBoutique.com - All Rights Reserved)
Crystal beads can either be faceted machine cut or fire polished.
Swarovski crystals are traditionally made of 32 percent lead which is why they are considered to have the highest sparkle. Although crystals and related glass are made all over the world, historically the leading producers of faceted glass beads were found in the Czech Republic and Austria.
(Image to the side of Linda Levinson Brooch Hairclip Gold w/Swarovski Jonquil, Pearl and Turquoise Swarovski crystals - Handcrafted this hair clip contains Swarovski crystals which are Turquoise, Jonquil and Pearl - Photo courtesy of HairBoutique.com)
A manufacturer, designer or distributor of crystal encrusted hair or related accessories can not legally say that the crystals are Swarovski unless they are indeed authentic Swarovski crystals and have been purchased directly from Swarovski or an authorized dealer.
If a hair accessory is described as "crystal encrusted" it may still contain beautiful stones, but unless it specifically says Swarovski it does not contain stones from that manufacturer.
Just like everything, you pay for higher quality Swarovski or related crystal stones.
(Shown - Ficcare - Maximas Primavera Clip - Glittery Gold - Large hair clip with stunning array of Swarorski crystals placed along the top for maximum shine and shimmer. Image courtesy of HairBoutique.com)
Swarovki also offers different finishes or coatings on the bead's surface. An AB or Aurora Borealis finish is a coating on the bead to make it iridescent. The sheen on the bead has a rainbow effect.
Austrian Crystals & Rhinestones
When crystals are described as Austrian crystals it may mean they original from Austrian or are manufactured based on traditional Austrian crystal methods. Rhinestones are also a form of glass designed to add shimmer.
Crystal bead sizes are measure in millimeters starting from as small as 3mm to as large as 22mm. Smaller beads, such as 4mm bicones are popular in jewelry designs and they are perfect accent beads for higher ends hair accessories.
(Image to the side of Karen Marie Antique Colossal Graduated Crystal Comb. This comb contains large rhinestones. Image courtesy of HairBoutique.com - All Rights Reserved).
Mixing and matching the crystal stones and beads will give different accessories more character and beauty.
When you see a hair or related accessory described as crystal encrusted you may wish to ask if the crystal is Swarovski, rhinestone or acrylic in composition. Often you can tell by the price of the item but when in doubt, ask. While it's perfectly legal to describe various types of cut glass as crystal, it's not legal to call them Swarovski if they aren't.
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