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Buying Beads And Crystals: The Ultimate Guide

August 03, 2022 11 min read

Take a look at our Ultimate Guide To Buying Crystals from the leading brands such as Swarovski, Preciosa, Serinity and Estella

We pride ourselves on offering our customers an exceptional level of choice, however when there is such a wide variety of options to choose from… it can be daunting if you are completely new to the world of crystals. If you have no previous experience to help you know your Rose Pin from your Rivoli or your Cup chain from your Cubic Zirconia, this handy ultimate guide to buying beads and crystals will help you through the maze. Here we break down the jargon and tell you what each crystal actually is, what it is typically used for along with a few common mistakes, so you won’t have to learn the hard way. Who needs Google when you have Bluestreak Crystals to tell you everything you need to know about cut glass crystals? You’ll feel like an expert in no time. Be sure to look out for the “Tips and Tricks” sections that are scattered throughout this guide as they will give you additional insights, for example:

TIP: A general rule to be aware of (because it affects multiple ranges) is that there can be many names that go into defining exactly what type of crystal you are looking at, there is the name for the product category, the name for the colour of the glass and in some cases there is also the name of the cut – this refers to the design of the crystal. For example: you can have a “flatback non hotfix crystal”, in the colour “Jet” with the cut “Chaton Rose”- this is a flatback crystal, not a pointed back chaton… and it’s colour is Jet black, not rose pink… “Chaton Rose” is the name of the cut of the stone. Another common example is a fancy stone that comes in a cut called “Emerald”, this is not the colour even though you can get an emerald stone in the colour emerald… and therefore guides are useful!


Flatback Crystals / Rhinestones

The most frequently purchased type of cut-glass crystal is the Flatback Crystal, these are also known as rhinestones, and these are perfect for gluing onto flat surfaces. The top side is cut so that it has many sides to it which will catch the light, these are called facets. The more facets there are on a crystal, the more opportunities it has to catch the light, giving it the ability to twinkle. The underside of the crystal is flat and smooth, and this is the side that touches the glue.


Choose from the largest range of rhinestones by Swarovski, Preciosa, Serinity and Estella at bluestreak crystals


When navigating the question; “what size of crystal do you need?” you will find that basic round crystals are sorted into SS numbers. The general rule is the smaller the SS number, the smaller the crystal will be. We have a size guide that converts SS numbers into ruler measurements which can be found on our website, we also include this conversion on the products description page. This means that if you can measure the size of the area you wish to cover with a single crystal, you can use that information to find the best size match from our selection of crystals.

There are two main types of Flat Back Crystal:

  • HOTFIX Flat Back Crystals, which can be identified with the abbreviation “HF” on our retail packs, and they come with a thin layer of heat reactive glue on the back. These are designed to be attached to fabric using a heat tool like the BeJeweler Pro, this will heat up the crystal and melt glue on the underside, while pressing it down into the fibers of the fabric. Once the crystal and glue have cooled down this method will give it plenty of hold as the fabric bends and stretches around it.
  • NON-HOTFIX Flat Back Crystals which can be identified with the abbreviation “NHF” on our retail packs are crystals that have no heat reactive glue on the back. This means they require a separate glue to stick them to your chosen surface and this makes non hotfix crystals versatile, because depending on the glue you use, these crystals can be stuck onto anything that is flat.

TIP: If you are embellishing onto a curved surface, you can still use flatback crystals as long as you use sizes that are small enough to sit flush against the surface that is in direct contact with it. Imagine you are trying to put a plate on top of a basketball, a big plate would have gaps underneath it on either side as the ball curves away from it, but a tiny plate won’t have this problem.


Faerie & Enchanted

Preciosa Faerie and Estella Enchanted use tiny double-cone and crystal balls that are individually sized, shaped and polished to be perfect additions to any nail art design or to create a crystal surface.



Beads can be made from anything, but the defining feature is that it has a hole running through the centre, which will allow a thread or cord to pass through it. We specialise in cut glass faceted beads and crystals, and there are four major types that can be found on our website. Bicone and Round Beads sizes are measured in mm and this will refer to the diameter of the bead unless it is asymmetrically shaped, in which case there will measurements for the length and width. It is also worth noting that not all bead holes are the same size so it’s worth knowing these sizes so you can select the right type of thread or needle for your bead. Bead thread holes for our ranges can be found in the Resources section of our website.


Choose from our huge range of crystals beads by Swarovski, Preciosa, Serinity and Estella


Bicone Beads (such as the 5328 bicone beads in the Serinity range) are cut to a specific recognisable style (also known as rondelle) so that they can catch the light from multiple directions and come in a variety of sizes on our website starting from 2.5mm up to 10mm.

Round Beads (such as the 5000 round beads in the Serinity range) have so many facets on them that they look much rounder than the angular Bicone Bead. Round beads come in a range of sizes on our website starting from 2mm up to 12mm.

Shaped Beads are free to be whatever shape the manufacturer chooses and are measured in length and width. These designs trend to be more intricate and will resemble recognisable objects such as hearts and butterflies and are well suited to earrings as well as necklaces and bracelets. The most popular types of shaped beads include Briolette which resemble a squished Round bead so that from the side it look more like a short oval and the skull shaped beads enjoy a wave of popularity every year as we approach Halloween.

Seed Beads, which are also known as Rocaille Seed Beads are smaller and appear smooth compared to the previously mentioned styles of bead, however some styles can be referred to as “faceted” because they include flat sides. Seed beads are manufactured differently and use a different sizing system compared to other styes and it all starts with a base bead size which is represented as size zero. This is the original size, and all other sizes are measured in relation to size zero. The rule for the different sizes is; the larger the number, the smaller the bead is compared to size zero. Therefore, a size 10 bead is 10 times smaller than a size 0 bead, this is shown as ‘10/0’ or simply ‘size 10’ on the packet.

The commonly used sizes of seed beads that you’ll find in our Preciosa Ornela collection are:

  • Size 6 which is approximately 4.1mm across with a 0.9mm hole and this is shown as 6/0.
  • Size 8 which is approximately 2.9mm across with a 0.9mm hole and this is shown as 8/0.
  • Size 10 which is approximately 2.3mm across with a 0.8mm hole and this is shown as 10/0.


Chatons & Round Stones

Chatons are round crystals that come to a single point on the back and are what most people think of when they imagine the shape of a cut diamond. Chatons are designed to be used in Jewellery making, where they will be placed into a metal setting that is able to accommodate the depth of the pointed back.


Pointed back chatons and round stones are perfect for adding stones to settings or pre made cavities for designs and jewellery making


This extra depth gives the stone a greater complexity when viewed from the front because you can see the light interacting with the facets both over the top and on the inside of the crystal. This does mean that chatons are unsuitable for flat surfaces because it will always tilt to one side and from at least one angle you will see the back, which is typically not meant to be seen. You can get unfoiled chatons and these are popular as scatter crystals for table decoration.

Classic Chatons, which often come with the codes 1028 and 1088 are the most popular styles of chaton and when viewed from the side they are the same shape as the Superman Logo. This is defined by the pointed tip at the bottom and the top has a flat surface with smaller facets around the side.

Rivoli Chatons, which are also known as 1122 chatons are unique because they are cut the same way on both sides of the crystal, this means the top also comes to a central point giving it the appearance of a shallow spike. Rivoli chatons also have different proportions compared to the classic chaton and are generally wider and shallower, making them a good choice for covering larger surface areas.

Channel Chatons are faceted on both sides making them essentially double sided and these are usually unfoiled, which makes them popular as scatter crystals and also in jewellery making. These are typically chosen when the jewellery maker wants the wearer to be able to see through the crystal, often as a link in a necklace or bracelet and they would set it in into a special jewellery component to achieve this effect.

Special Cut Chatons are often larger in size and the different designs for the way the crystal is cut is because the crystal is large enough to include additional facets for extra brilliance. A stunning example of this is the 1400 Dome Round Chaton from the Serinity range.

TIP: Chatons may be referred to as ‘round stones’ and in the flatback crystals range there is a style of round flatback crystal that has a cut design called “Chaton Rose”, this makes it very easy to get the two confused and the key thing to look out for is the word “flatback” we also endeavour to add further clarity by using the words “pointed back” when referring to chatons.



The pendants on our website are made from cut glass and have a hole drilled through the top of the crystal so that it can be attached to either a necklace or a drop style earring with the aid of either a jump ring or a pendant bail. Most of the pendants in our range are double-sided meaning they can dangle from an earring and not have an obvious back or font to them. The difference between a pendant and a bead is the location of the drilled hole, a bead will have a hole running through the centre and a pendant will have a hole at one end which is designed to be the top. Some lighting crystals are very similar to pendant crystals however they are generally much larger. 

Buy crystal pendants in retail or wholesale packs at bluestreak crystals at the best online prices


The hole size on any pendant is relative to the size of the crystal and the sizes on our website generally start from 1mm in diameter up to approximately 3mm. The width of the hole as well as the depth of the crystal that the hole passes through, will affect your choice of bail or jump ring and we include this measurement on the product description page of each pendant.


Fancy Stones

Fancy stones are uniquely shaped crystals that are designed to be set into metal casings and mimic the appearance precious and semi-precious stones in jewellery. This style of crystal is shaped on both sides similar to chatons, but the difference is the back is typically more complex in design and won’t come to a single point like a chaton.


at bluestreak crystals you can choose Fancy stones from leading manufacturers Swarovski, Serinity and Preciosa


TIP: Different brands may use the same name to represent the style of the cut of their fancy stones, for example the crystal ‘Baguette’; however the dimensions can vary between manufacturers so it’s important to pay attention to the measurements if you are trying to match a stone to a metal setting.


Sew On Crystals

Sew on Crystals are flatback crystals that have holes in them, which allow for a needle to pass through and secure them to fabric. The most well-known sew on crystal is called Loch Rose and these are round and have the hole going through the centre. They behave like sequins and are very popular in ballroom dance competitions because they can be combined with other sew on crystal shapes like Navette and Pear to create stunning designs. Some sew on stones will have two holes in them so that they can be securely attached at either end.


Crystals In Settings

A “setting” is a metal casing designed to hold a crystal and this is the standard method for attaching fancy stones or chatons to jewellery or sewing them onto fabric. “Crystals in settings” are products where a fancy stone or chaton is already combined with a metal setting and is ready to be sewn or soldered onto your intended surface.


Crystal stones in settings are perfect for embellishment of costume, dress and fabric


The metal setting can look like silver or gold and on the product page you will find diagrams giving you the front and side view, so that you can see where the holes for sewing are located. The crystals themselves come in a variety of shapes and sizes and having the crystals already inside a setting saves you having to find a match yourself.


Cup Chains

Crystal Cup Chains are metal chains that can look like silver or gold, which have round or fancy stones set into them, these are popular in jewellery and fabric embellishment.



Rivets are made of metal with a crystal set into them and they come in two parts: the main piece which contains the crystal and is pushed through the material; and the other section known as a Back Part attaches onto the back, holding it securely in place. It is recommended that Rivets are applied using a Fly Press or Application Pliers because the process requires a bit of force.


Rose Pins

Rose Pins are great for glue resistant surfaces such as suede, leather etc and look like a Rivet once in place. A Fly Press or Application Pliers are best when applying rose pins because the pins need to be pushed through the fabric and then bent inward so that they hold themselves in place, similar to a stapler through paper.


Cubic Zirconia

Cubic Zirconia is developed using the latest diamond-cutting software to enhance the natural optical properties of the crystal to make them resemble real diamonds as closely as possible.


Crystal Mesh

Crystal Mesh is a flexible metal mesh with loose crystals set into the weave that can be ordered bespoke from our supplier. The mesh itself comes in silver or gold plating and it can be hand or machine sewn.


Crystal Net

Crystal Net is created by applying crystals in a grid formation to the intersecting points of a net according to your specified bespoke design. You can choose whether or not the net is elasticated and you can specify the size of the holes in the net and how the edges are finished. The crystals that will go on the net can come in a variety of colours and be SS10 or larger. Crystal Net is suitable for sewing and hotfix application, both by hand and machine and is mostly used for clothing designs.


Crystal Sheet

Crystal Sheet (also known as Crystal Fabric) is a flexible sheet of film with crystals completely covering one side and is available in six possible crystal colours; Crystal AB, Starlight Gold, Aurum, Capri Gold, Labrador or Hematite. These crystals can go on either a transparent or black film and can be laser cut into motif designs or shapes according to you unique design requirements. Crystal Sheet is suitable for gluing or hotfix application.

As you continue your journey through the world of all things sparkly, we recommend referring back to this if you ever find yourself in need of a reminder of the differences between the types of products we provide. Be sure to also stay up to date with our various social media feeds on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok where we frequently upload video examples for you to enjoy.