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A rhinestone or paste or diamante is a diamond simulant made from rock crystal, glass or acrylic.

Originally, rhinestones were rock crystals gathered from the river Rhinemarker. The availability was greatly increased when around 1775 the Alsatianmarker jeweller Georg Friedrich Strass had the idea to imitate diamonds by coating the lower side of glass with metal powder. Hence, rhinestones are called Strass in many European languages.

Rhinestones may be used as imitations of diamonds, and some manufacturers even manage to reproduce the glistening effect real diamonds have in the sun.

In 1955, the Aurora Borealis or Aqua aura, a thin, vacuum-sputtered metallic coating applied to crystal stones to produce an iridescent effect, was introduced. Aurora Borealis tends to reflect whatever color is worn near it, and it is named after the Aurora Borealis atmospheric phenomenon, also known as the Northern Lights.

Typically, crystal rhinestones have been used on costumes, apparel and jewelry. Crystal rhinestones are produced mainly in Austriamarker by Swarovski and in the Czech Republicmarker by Preciosa and a few other glassworks in northern Bohemia. In the US, these are sometimes called Austrian Crystal.

The rhinestone-studded Nudie suit was invented by Nudie Cohn in the 1940s, an Americanization of the matador's suit of lights.

Liberal use of rhinestones was associated with country music singers, as well as with singer Elvis Presley and pianist Liberace. In 1975 Glen Campbell had a top hit with the song Rhinestone Cowboy, and became known as the "Rhinestone Cowboy". Singer Michael Jackson started wearing a single rhinestoned glove in the 1980s, including during his performance of Billie Jean during the Motown Anniversary show.

Rhinestone material was also used on the Times Square Ball in New York from 1995 to 1998.

One may also find customized crystal rhinestone-inlaid items on Internet auction websites, such as cell phones, MP3 players, earbuds, and flip flops.

See also

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