Crystals are frequently used in the vast world of jewelry making. They can be stunning without carrying the hefty price tag of real gemstones. Whether set in a metal bezel, embedded in surrounding beads or hung by a bail, there are an infinite number of ways to incorporate them into a piece.
Obviously, there are crystal beads — those that contain a hole for stringing wire or thread. But what about the crystals without holes? How do you know what you are looking for and what shape crystal to get for a specific project? A few months ago this was the topic of one of my Facebook Live session. There are so many sizes, shapes and cuts that the crystal varieties can be confusing and overwhelming.
Let’s first tackle the sizing issue. Unlike beads, that are only measured in millimeter sizes, crystals without holes are often measured with an “SS” number. “SS”, or Stone Size. These SS sizes refer to the hole-less crystals often refereed to as rhinestones. To help convert the SS sizing to millimeters I have created the chart below:
Rhinestone Crystal SS to Millimeter Conversation Chart
|Size in Millimeters||Stone Size||Size in Millimeters||Stone Size|
|1.5-1.7mm||4 SS||5.9-6.1mm||28 SS|
|2.3-2.5mm||8 SS||6.3-6.5mm||30 SS|
|3.0-3.2mm||12 SS||7.1-7.3mm||34 SS|
|3.4-3.6mm||14 SS||8.4-8.7mm||40 SS|
|4.2-4.4mm||18 SS||8.9-9.2mm||42 SS|
|4.6-4.8mm||20 SS||9.5-9.9mm||44 SS|
The Potomac Bead Company carries a variety of crystals without holes such as pointed back, rivolis and chatons, as well as flat backs. These come in a plethora of sizes and colors and are produced by Swarovski, Preciosa and PotomacBeadss. In some beading patterns, these shapes are referred to specifically by name and SS size. However, other patterns will simply state a millimeter size and general shape description such as “round”. Knowing the difference between the most popular crystal shapes and the SS description (in chart above) will make it easier for you to search for your supplies. Here are some of the basic crystal shapes we carry at The Potomac Bead Company:
- RIVOLI: Their key characteristic is the faceting, like a tradition round brilliant diamond, that comes to a center point in both the front and back of the stone… faceting is completely balanced on both sides. The sparkle is often enhanced by a silver coating on the back. The most common sizes of the Rivoli shape is in millimeter sizes 10-18mm. At The Potomac Bead Company, our most commonly ordered size of Rivoli is 14mm which also, the size we most commonly use in our YouTube video designs.
- CHATON: Like the rivoli this shape comes to a center point at the back of the stone, but features a partially flat front. The chaton is generally smaller and measured in SS sizes ranging from ss20-ss47. There are also smaller sizes that are commonly used for clothing an other decorations. You will also want to note that the back of the chaton comes to a more drastic cone shaped point (a steeper angle) than the rivoli.
- FLAT BACK: As the name suggests, these crystals are flat on the back and often plateau on the top. They are traditionally the smallest in size and style of crystals starting at 4SS. These are used often in the fashion industry and are glued to the desired surface. As you can see below with our flat back Chessboard Crystals.
- ROSE MONTEE: The Rose Montee is actually a setting that contains a flat back crystal. Again, this is commonly referred to as both the size of the crystal it contains, in an SS measurement as well as a millimeter measurement for the entire piece, including the metal setting. Often, the rose montee will have a cross section setting in which the back of the metal looks like an X with two holes for the stringing material to pass through.
While the rivoli and the chaton shapes are round, there are also other crystal shapes in both pointed and flat back. These include oval, navette, square and rectangular shapes. When they are a non rounded shape, the crystals are most often measured in millimeters.
-Kimrie Merrill, Allie Buchman, & Ashley Krzanowski