The beginning of this movement can be traced to the 17th and 18th centuries when Europe's collective desire for precious gemstones, in particular diamonds, prompted many jewellers to search for more affordable substitutes in glass. In 1724, a young jeweller named Georges Frédéric Strass created a special leaded glass known as paste that could be cut and polished with metal powder so that it appeared to twinkle like a diamond in candlelight. Before long, these diamante designs were very popular in Parisian society.
Swarovski and the Creation of Crystal Rhinestones
Due to the influence of Queen Victoria and her tragic romance, 19th-century ladies took to wearing jewellery made from non-precious materials such as paste, mirrored-back glass, and black jet for particular, sentimental reasons such as mourning or romance. Then, in 1892, Austrian jeweller Daniel Swarovski created his coveted fine crystal rhinestones created with high-lead-content glass and a permanent foil backing. This allowed the rhinestones to imitate the facets and lustre of gemstones, from rubies and diamonds, sapphires and emeralds.