Choosing rhinestones for ballroom dresses is fun and fabulous, but can be overwhelming. With a rainbow of possibilities and a canvas the size of…well, You, the decision of which stones to pick can be as tough as choosing a chocolate from a candy box.  (I’ll have one of each!)

DanceSport Place had the opportunity to interview Mr. Phil Brandt, owner of The Rhinestone Guy, rhinestone supply warehouse and dress designer. He shared with us his insight into selecting the right color, size and style of rhinestone to create beautiful ballroom dresses that will get noticed on the dance floor.


This is great information you’ll want to know when planning your next costume! Read on for the know-how and then order all you’ll need from


choosing rhinestones for ballroom dresses




DSP:  You have a detailed section on your site about the differences between the legendary Swarovski stones and the alternative Czech Preciosa, which are less expensive. What differences are most noticeable between the two brands when used in the ballroom where strong lighting and distance from the audience are key considerations?

PB: Fortunately or un-, the differences between the two companies has all but disappeared recently with Czech Preciosa’s release of the “Viva” Cut.  At this point, I would shop solely on price and colors!




DSP: Many dancers are stumped when they see the variety sizes of stones available. What size is the most popular for dance costumes? Would you recommend using different sizes for the garment and the accessories?

PB: I always use at least 2 sizes, preferably 3 when stoning costumes…I like the depth of light achieved with the different sizes. Rhinestone size will certainly be determined by the age of the “wearer,” but for adults, I use 20SS as my center size, with 16SS as fillers, and 30/34SS as the accent stones.



How Many?

DSP:   To achieve a professional designer look, how many different sized stones and colors usually are needed to create such an eye-catching effect?

PB: As a designer, I would start with the total design before one stitch is made!  Choose the color or the RHINESTONE first (rhinestone colors are certainly limited, but fabric comes in so many colors and shades! Then work from there. Personally, I prefer one color of rhinestone, period!  I do not like the Polka Dot look of Crystal AB on all colors of fabric that many people do. I like a rhinestone that is close to the color of the fabric, a rhinestone which adds life to the fabric…what I really want is the costume to flatter the wearer, NOT the other way around!  A well designed costume will accent the wearer’s positive qualities and hide the weaker qualities.




DSP: The sample rhinestone card that you offer is a great tool to use when choosing fabrics and ordering stones. How often do Swarovski and Preciosa add or discontinue stone colors? Are there any new colors coming onto the market this year? 

PB: Both companies tend to introduce new colors yearly, usually in the spring. We make a decision as to which colors we will carry, for, trust me, neither Swarovski nor Preciosa hits the market with every color. In fact, a few colors they come up with are downright ugly!



DSP: Swarovski and Preciosa use many of the same names for their colors. Is there any problem in mixing batches between the two brands? Are the AB coating similar in their reflective coloring?

PB: The names are the same, as you have said, but the colors are not exactly the same…this is good, for as well as depth of light, I love depth of color in costuming. Therefore, I will use, say, Lt. Siam of both Czech Preciosa and Swarovski on the same costume, in the sizes I have stated above.  The colors are close, but certainly not the same…this makes for wonderful lighting effects. As for AB coatings, the AB stands for Aurora Borealis … a rainbow of color. Here, I prefer the Czech approach, for this company has a far lighter hand on the coatings, making the colors very evident and the coatings just a hint. I do not like to see only a coating…at times, the coatings are so heavy that all the Colors AB look alike.



DSP: What types of stones or colors are not conducive for use on dancesport costumes and are best avoided?

PB: I cannot think of any color that cannot work, but…the costume color will depend upon the wearer, and the rhinestone color will depend upon the costume color. The only color I advise being careful of in costuming is pale blue…a color that can easily turn to gray under pink lighting (gray is usually not a flattering color.)



Pro Tips:

DSP: Is there anything further you’d like to share with dancers about how to choose the right rhinestones for costumes?

PB: Both Swarovski and Preciosa have very full lines of colors and shapes available to costumers. No matter how you look at it, the round stone is still the workhorse of the batch!  When you see costumes at distances they are designed to be seen, (well-designed costumes, at any rate,) small shapes just fade away. Small rhinestones, for the most, fade away into a slight glimmer…you really have to think “Hit them over the head with it!” when you design, but at the same time, you must think, more importantly, “Hit them over the head with the wearer of the costume. IF all I see is the costume, and not the wearer, the costumer has failed in his/her job of design!  I think that often, when clients think of rhinestones, at first they want to decorate the costume as they would an evening gown!  This just doesn’t work out well. 

My Motto is, “Too much is wonderful!”


DSP:  Thank you for sharing your knowledge about choosing rhinestone for ballroom dresses!


About The Rhinestone Guy:

Phil Brandt (aka The Rhinestone Guy) is a professional designer and has been in the rhinestone industry for over 35 years. His website ( features not only a huge selection of rhinestones in all colors and sizes, beads, samples cards, fasteners and tools but also a wealth of information distilled from his years of experience.

Dancers may be particularly interested in these informative links on Phil’s website:

Detailed Color Charts and Descriptions for:

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