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MFA# 2005.188


Leaded glass stone

An inexpensive, imitation Gemstone that simulates the appearance of a Diamond, but is much softer. Rhinestones originally were made from Rock crystal (transparent Quartz) found in or near the Rhine River. They were cut and polished to simulate diamonds. In 1775, a French jeweler, George Stass, began coating the bottom of the rock crystals to increase their reflectivity. The Aurora Borealis diamond was introduced in 1955 in which a coating was applied to the surface of the rock crystals to produce interference colors. This coating was later applied to rhinestones made of acrylic plastic. Paste diamonds, made from highly refractive glass, are also called rhinestones. Paste diamonds lack the double refraction and regular molecular arrangement of true gemstones.

Synonyms and Related Terms

rock crystal; paste diamond; Cornish diamond; strass; costume diamonds; Aurora Borealis


Natural and Simulated Diamonds

Resources and Citations

  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 364
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998

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