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History & Lead
Rhinestones aka Diamantes, Crystals, Flat Backs or Strass in many European countries, oe even Paste as the original methods imply.go back to the 1200's where they were first made from Czechoslovakian or Bohemian hand blown glass.
Folk would collect them from the shores, jewellers cutting and moulding them into little imitation diamonds. The flaws within them threw the light around to give them that great sparkle. Needless to say, supplies soon became scarce prompting jewellers and technicians to try recreate their wonderful properties.
Joseph Strasser could be credited with the precursor to our present day Rhinestone, but it was really wen Georg Freidrich Strass in 1760 developed a bottom coating that helped with the reflection of light through the stone that out present day Rhinestone was born.
It was Daniel Swarovski, who was the son of a Bohemian gem cutter who patented and electric glass cutter in 1892. He formed his own company in 1895 in Austria. Since then the onset of precision glass cutting and polishing and the continual evolution in technology have brought us to the stones we know today.
Preciosa with its long history of centuries of crystal making was soon to follow with its name in 1915 then amalgamating with several artists in the area Preciosa was officially registered in 1948.
Now we have the two most prestigious companies manufacturing Rhinestones in the world.
Traditionally Rhinestones have always had a lead content, believing it gave the Rhinestone its extra sparkle. However as technology has improved and the publics concern with health risks has increased we are now seeing a non-lead content Rhinestone with the same brilliance as a traditional stone.
Traditionally a Rhinestone needed to contain lead to give it its' superior shine. Lead increases the Rhinestones refractive qualities, softens the glass making it easier to cut. It was thought the higher the lead content the greater the sparkle. The Swarovski company's stones having up to 30% lead gave it a reputation of having the most prestigious Rhinestone.
However times and texchnology has changed. Due to the health risks well documented from the ingestion of lead, especially amongst children, Rhinestone manufacturing has had to change.
It was in 2011 that the US CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement) made it an essential that all products are tested and certificated as safe for children 12 and under, and that meant no lead content.
So we now have a CPSC approved Rhinestones from Swarovski containing 0.009% lead or less. Preciosa also have a stunning lead free range of Rhinestones.
Outside of these two companies there are other Rhinestone producers and so it is neccessary to check their credentials and certification as to the lead content in their stones.