Originally, rhinestones were rock crystals gathered from the river Rhine. The availability was greatly increased around 1775 when the Alsatian 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.
Typically, crystal rhinestones have been used on costumes, apparel and jewelry. Crystal rhinestones are produced mainly in Austria by Swarovski and in the Czech Republic by Preciosa and a few other glassworks in northern Bohemia. In the US, these are sometimes called Austrian Crystal. In the Spanish-speaking world they are called Cristal de Bohemia (Bohemian Crystal)