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Korean Stone Grading

6946 Views 15 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  allhamps
I have been researching hotfix Korean stones, I have found the following:
AAA, AA, A, B, Korean, and Chinese. I was told AAA-A are all considered "Korean rhinestones" Can someone explain the difference between AAA and Korean? Some companies carry AAA as the highest quality stone and other will just tell me "korean" stones.
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From what I understand, and I've heard this from various Chinese and Korean suppliers, they sort of decided to grade themselves. It's not like a science. You really need to get samples and test yourself. I've seen Chinese stones that are much nicer than "high grade" Korean stones. Even machine cut stones have varying degrees of quality. It takes a lot of research and trial and error to find a factory that produces a consistent quality of stone no matter what they're called.
The issue with stone grading is that it's not regulated. If someone wants to peddle junky stones and call them Grade AAA, that's a matter of opinion, so it's not like anyone can dispute that claim. Both Chinese and Korean stones are generally graded as AAAA at the highest and A at the lowest. Some suppliers call machine cuts 5A's. Generally AAA is where you start getting decent stones, although I have seen plenty of those even have crummy glue and glue spray on the actual stone. It's very important to order samples from several distributors and try them all out before buying. On a lot of colors, the glue spray on the facets isn't really noticeable until you press the stones on something. I've noticed it mostly on siam and cobalt stones. Relying on stone grades is risky, so make sure you try them before you buy a ton.
Yeah, what she said. :p
It goes to show why you only use high quality machine cuts, huh Miss Divine Bling? One day, I too will only use the fancy schmancy stones. ;) The process of finding a stone supplier who not only has a good product, but delivers promptly isn't fun, but it pays off in the end.
Yeah, I'm too picky about imperfect stones and I ended up plucking half of them out of the template when I tried the high grade Korean stones. It took me 10 times as long to make transfers as it did with the machine cut.
I've actually had better luck with high grade Chinese than Korean as far as that goes. I was picking out stones left and right with Koreans. Chinese stones have a bad reputation, which is a shame because the nice ones put Korean stones to shame.
The large quantities of Prism stones that we carry are 10 facet high quality Chinese stones. Better than Korean. And still more of a pain in the butt than machine cut. :p
I did receive samples from 3 different places, I am waiting on some others. I have also read fuchsia color is not available in korean only in DMC and chinese, I received a sample of the chinese quality and I have to say the color and shine was impressive. The cost is more than some other companies for that same color but the shine and color are better than the less expensive samples I received from overseas.
Ah, now you're getting into more grades. DMC is a lower quality machine cut stone than what I'm used to using. I have gotten many samples of DMC and supposed premium quality DMC and I don't care for them either.
I'm trying not to get spoiled on the 14 cut imitation Swarovski stones but they have crazy sparkle. They're just a lot more expensive than the premium machine cut stones I use. I don't know how much longer I can hold out though! Lol
Pinks always cost more. I have seen Korean stones in several shades of pink, the newer hot pinks are really pretty....but I have never seen any that compare to the Chinese fuchsia....That's what I use and they are absolutely gorgeous. They are so nice that a lot of places sell them as machine cut, when in fact they aren't, but most people don't know the difference. Well worth the price.
but I have never seen any that compare to the Chinese fuchsia....That's what I use and they are absolutely gorgeous. They are so nice that a lot of places sell them as machine cut, when in fact they aren't, but most people don't know the difference. Well worth the price.

The fuchsia chinese I received were indeed gorgeous:p, they shined more than the korean stones I have been using for the past year.

This is the reason I asked my question, I have AAA samples that in my opinion shine more than the korean I am using now, I want to give my customers good quality and not cut corners.
I've never had a customer question where I got my stones. The Korean vs. Chinese hype is just tossed around between people who do this for a living and really is all based on personal opinion. A lot of people base their opinion of Chinese stones on the cheap transfers available in the wholesale market, when in reality China is producing some amazing quality stones. I, personally, have been getting rid of my Korean stones and using all high quality Chinese in production. My customers don't care where I get them, they just want to sparkle.
I agree with Lindy. It's amazing how over the years, and the tons of debates from us "stoners", how the suppliers have evolved their "grading" systems to fit what we THINK we want. When I started this in 2007, there were A & B Chineses stones, Korean stones, DMC Machine Cut Stones & Imitation Swavorsky. Now we reportedly have several grades in each category:confused: Just like the "green glue" or the "gray glue" and which is better. I don't buy all this grading hocus pocus and feel it's just a ploy by a lot of suppliers to charge more bucks. I buy Korean I stones from a supplier I've been using for years, no grading, no changes in quality. I like the shine and the quality and hopefully they will continue to provide good stones.

With the recent craze in the new "color change" stones, I bought some from my supplier and some from several other sites, forum members included. You get all kinds of labels like DMC, GEM Cut, Premium Korean, Premium Machine Cut, AAAA Chinese, etc, but the bottom line is I did not see a bit of difference in any of the ones with the very expensive names and prices from the KOREAN stones from my supplier.

I think with everyone jumping on the bling bandwagon, the BEST thing to do is to test out suppliers until you find one you trust and whos product you like. If you need to go a step further, do some designs in several of the various qualities of stones and go to your customers like I did. Ask them to choose the design with the best bling, then give them pricing for each design and ask them again which one they would purchase:) In my testing, an overwhelming majority went for the Korean stones (I labeled them good bling/good pricing). Several people actually asked if the samples included Swavorski, which they did, but not a one of those people could pick out the Swavorski design.

Marketing and hype, along with brand name will fuel this craze, but if you provide your customers with an effective, efficient, reliable alternative, they will most often take that choice. :)
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Carol I followed your advise and I pressed four different quality stones on to the same shirt side by side and asked several girls to point out the stones with the most bling. To my surprise not one pointed to the "high quality" Korean stone. The first one they pointed to were the DMC stones, the second were between "high grade" chinese and lead free.
Honestly I cannot tell the difference between the chinese and korean colored stone samples I received.

I also compared the color and shine to the stones I am currently using. I did have issues with one particular color in ss16, I repressed it 3 times and I could not get it to stick. The samples that I used came from different companies.

What I have learned is that not only is quality important during this exhausting process but customer service is just as important. I did have one company not reply back with DHL tracking number and I will not see that $$ again. I do have more samples on the way and will continue to test and load this shirt to every single load of laundry. This process is quite expensive and time consuming, I understand why names are not dropped when people ask who the suppliers are. Now the hardest part will be deciding which stones to go with.

I had one company tell me that they are also making DMC lead free, not available yet. What is your take on lead free stones?
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Very interesting. It is a time consuming but necessary process I believe. You want your customers to be excited about both the bling appeal and the length of time they can expect to have their item. I don't put much stock in lead free stones. My supplier says they only sell lead free stones but since I don't do the testing and have no way to confirm their results, I don't proclaim to have lead free stones. I think rhinestones have become so popular that it is forcing a lot of the suppliers to better their quality. When I first started it was quite obvious what the difference was in some of the Chinese grade stones. Now they are getting better too!! Take your time and be comfortable with both the stones and the supplier.
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