Vintage Style • My Vintage Dictionary

“With “E” for “Estras” (Strass or Rhinestone)”

3 February, 2015

A flint glass with a high lead content, used to imitate gemstones

A flint glass used to imitate gemstones and create therefore fantasy jewelry. The name comes from the creator’s family name, Georg Friedrich Strass. (1701-1773).

Back in 1750, he Alsatian jeweler Strass invented a piece of glass with a high lead content and a shine very similar to the one in the gemstones. This creation was quickly spread all over the world, reachable by any level of society (since the price was very affordable. Strass invented the concept of “precious stone imitation”. He spent his life to manufactuing these “fake” gemstones.


In 1810 Lançon improved the invention by making the imitations with an outstanding brightness and harder, by placing a metal with mirroring shine in the base to reflect the light. Although in the beginning they were manufactured only in white, after a little while and a few technical advances, they added more colors to imitate rubies, emeralds or saphires.

Any woman wants to shine on her own, and this creation allowed any woman from any class to have access to “jewelry”, at a very affordable price. Strass popularized this way the use of gemstones.

Years after, these gem imitations have been used to decorate clothes, shoes and all kind of fashion accesories.

Images: María Vintage Photography

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