This is a question that comes up every once-in-awhile, either because someone is new to rhinestone apparel, was burned by an inferior product/company in the past, or tried their hand at home "bedazzling" with a lot of wasted time, wasted money and poor results.
When it comes to our rhinestones, we at Sparkle Plenty Designs
ONLY use premium stones -- no plastic or cheapie backings, and all rhinestone heat transfers are individually checked over before we professionally heat press the design onto a garment or item (tee, cap, tote, hoodie, etc.)Here's the deal -- with rhinestones, there are 2 primary considerations: 1. The quality of the stones
2. The quality of the application
Quite simply, these 2 things make all the difference between a high quality, durable
design application and the kind of questionable design work that makes people less than trusting about working with bling. (Trust us, we've seen some nightmares out there!)
First off, on the issue of bling itself, "rhinestone" is something of an umbrella term, as there is no one source for rhinestones (unlike, for example, Swarovski crystal, which is the one and only). Rhinestones come in different grades and from different countries (primarily Korea and China, with Korean stones being far superior). We use AAA grade Korean stones, which are of a very high quality (very blingy) and made with excellent glue backings, to ensure they do the job (looking good and keeping themselves that way).
As for the application, stones are applied with high heat to melt the glue backings, so that once cool, the glues harden, creating what should be a permanent bond to the shirt fabric. Two things can go wrong here: first, the heat press could register a subpar temperature -- for example, it may give a reading of 350 degrees but only heat to 315 -- and not provide adequate heat (this happens with older and inferior equipment which produce "dead spots" or cold spots). Second, stones can have defective backings (since rhinestones are produced in the millions over time, it's not surprising that you'll have defects here and there in different batches).
We deal with these issues directly. Our equipment is American made, commercial grade and only a year old, so it's in great shape and we take occasional heat readings to ensure correct temperature. As for the stones, we're the only company that we know of that does quality control on every heat transfer
of every custom job we work on.
This means someone is reviewing the backings of the stones of every design, looking for any questionable stones, and replacing them with good ones. We also re-align stones so they are positioned as they ought to be (especially important with certain shapes and text in particular...nobody wants crooked letters). This takes time from production but it ensures a level of quality that makes our product stand out and why we have a 5 Star ★★★★★ ASI rating.