Rhinestone Glossary

Useful terms for entrepreneurs interested in the rhinestone business, or custom t-shirt business.

Rhinestone – according to Wikipedia, a rhinestone is a simulated gem made from crystal, glass or acrylic. The word Rhinestone was coined because the original product was made from rock crystals found on the banks of the Rhine River. 



Hotfix or Hot Fix – stones, studs or other objects that are coated with a heat activated glue on one side. Heat is applied, through an iron or heat press, in order to “fix” the stones onto a textile like a t-shirt. 


Rhinestud – these are metallic copies of rhinestones. Normally, a Rhinestud will be “Hotfix”, just like most Rhinestones in apparel decorating and have an angular head. These are valued in apparel decorating because they are always lead free, are less expensive than Rhinestones and come in a more defined color palette. For example, a Red Rhinestud will actually be red, as opposed to a Rhinestone where the color depends on glass, light, etc. 


Nailhead – also meant to substitute for Rhinestones, a nailhead is a metal object like a Rhinestud, but with a flat, rounded top like the head of a nail. Valued as decorations for jeans and other garments where a Rhinestud or Rhinestone may scratch furniture, etc. Swarovski® – this is a famous brand of Rhinestones and Hotfix Rhinestones. Swarovski sells only high quality crystal stones that are machine cut for brilliance. This is the most expensive brand of Rhinestones. 


Hotfix Tape or Transfer Tape – is a roll or sheet of clear acrylic material that provides the foundation for Hotfix Rhinestone, Rhinestud and Nailhead transfers. Transfer tape is sticky on one side and Hotfix Rhinestones are placed upside down on the sticky side by an automatic rhinestone machine or by hand. With the glue side of the stones facing up, the design can be placed face down on a garment for pressing. 


Decal Material – rhinestone decals are rhinestone transfer designs that can be applied to metal, glass and other surfaces – usually car bumpers, windows and lockers. The decal material, or rhinestone hard surface material, is a kind of 2 sided Transfer Tape that allows you to press your rhinestone design on one side, then peel and stick the results on the other. 



Heat Press – a heat press is a device that operates like a commercial iron. It’s made so you can put a garment down on the bottom “platen”, add your rhinestone transfer to the garment, then close the lid and “press” the rhinestones onto the garment and melt the glue. 



Machine Cut Rhinestones – most acrylic and glass rhinestones are molded, where liquid plastic or glass is poured into a rhinestone shaped mold, then cooled. Machine cut are mechanically sliced into the desired shape instead. This gives the stones a flatter facet and so better reflective properties – more BLING. 


Sticky Flock – a brand of rhinestone template material designed to work with plotter/cutters to produce reusable rhinestone templates. Comes in a variety of roll and sheet sizes. 


Bling Machine – another name for an automatic rhinestone machine, like the CAMS machine, but can also refer to a sequin transfer machine or spangle transfer machine like the ProSpangle. 


Hopper – the part of an automatic rhinestone machine that stores the rhinestones, Rhinestuds or nail heads being applied to the transfer tape. 


Rhinestone Design Software – software applications or plug ins designed specifically to produce rhinestone designs for rhinestone transfers. 


Platen – any surface area designed to hold transfer tape or a garment for pressing or application. 


GemMaster – a rhinestone design software formerly sold with the CAMS Rhinestone Machines. Replaced by Hotfix Era. 


HotFix Era – a rhinestone design software. Comes in a version for automatic rhinestone setting machines, spangle and sequin machines and cutters like with the Brush n Bake System. 


Corel Draw – a graphics software that is often used to make rhinestone designs.