Swarovski FAQ – Part 1

Swarovski is an Austrian family business that since 1885 has been producing crystals which stand out by maximum cutting precision, form perfection and marvelous brilliance. Find out more about Swarovski brand. Crystals from Swarovski are made of a combination of quartz, sand and various minerals, which, thanks to the use of specific formulas and cuts developed over the years, obtain the highest quality. Crystals are widely used to make jewelry, accessories, clothing, and they are also popular in interior design. Swarovski offers a wide range of shapes, sizes, colors, effects and application methods. To make it easier to start the adventure with crystals, the company has also developed a multi-page guide that describes in detail all the products, techniques of application and care, but not many people have the time and willingness to familiarize themselves with this extensive encyclopedia, so below we have summarized the most frequently asked questions.

 SWAROVSKI

HotFix vs. Non HotFix

HotFix crystals on the bottom have a flat surface covered with a glue that activates under the influence of heat and penetrates into the fibers of the material, thus creating a durable and long-lasting bond. Crystals can be applied by heat press, ultrasonic device, stone setting machine, HotFix applicator as well as steamless iron. Temperature, application time and pressure vary according to the type of crystal and the material.

Non HotFix crystals have no glue layer attached but are covered with platinum foil for extra shine and protection. Non HotFix can be applied in 3 ways: with glue, with Swarovski Ceralun or with stone setting machine.

HotFix is recommended when applying large amounts of crystals on heat-resistant materials – as this application is faster. However, when applying single or smaller amounts of crystals on temperature-sensitive materials – No HotFix is recommended.

What surfaces for HotFix and Non HotFix?

HotFix is used on highly absorbent materials, so before starting the application, a water drop test should be applied. If water soaks into the material quickly, it indicates high absorbency. If water remains on the surface in the form of pearls or soaks very slowly, it means insufficient absorption of the material, which can reduce the effectiveness of HotFix application.

SWAROVSKI TEST
 WATER DROP TEST
In terms of absorbency, the HotFix application is not suitable for materials such as:
  • tightly woven fabrics,
  • very thin fabrics such as tulle,
  • smooth leather and smooth leather imitation,
  • hydrophobic and waterproof coatings such as: silicone, synthetic resin,
  • Teflon coatings,
  • stain-resistant coatings,
  • fluorocarbon finishes,
  • materials after the use of softeners,
  • materials colored with metallic pigments,
  • enzyme treated coatings.
HotFix glue has been developed especially for textiles, but experience has shown that it can also be used on wood, paper and metal, but it is recommended to carry out tests before the proper application.
No HotFix crystals can be used almost on all materials, but the key is to choose a proper glue.

What we need for HotFix application?

  • HotFix crystals,
  • heat press, ultrasonic device, stone setting machine, HotFix applicator or iron without steam,
HEAT PRESS
ULTRASONIC DEVICE
STONE SETTING MACHINE
 SWAROVSKI CRYSTAL APPLICATOR
IRON
  • Teflon foil,
  • compensating pad: silicone foam, foam rubber or felt,
  • cardboard,
  • tweezers or a wax stick (e.g. Crystal Katana Tool).
TEFLON
SILICONE
CARDBOARD
JEWELLERY SUPPLIES
JEWELRY MAKING SUPPLIES

How to apply HotFix?

Several solutions can be applied to the HotFix such as: heat press, ultrasonic device (suitable for products: 2078, 2038, 2716, 2816, 2826), stone setting machine, HotFix applicator (suitable for products: 2078, 2038) or iron without steam. Regardless of the method chosen, when applying HotFix, few factors should be taken into account:

  • temperature – the glue is activated at a temperature of 120 to 170 °C – its exact selection depends on the base material and its sensitivity to temperature
  • pressure – depends on the type of applied elements, base material and device chosen. Too much pressure may cause glue to be spread out crystal area, while too little pressure may not bond the crystal to the material properly. In addition to strength, it is also important that the pressure is equable and perpendicular to the surface of the crystals to uniformly bond the crystals and avoid chipping or breaking at the edges,
  • heating length – depends on the type of crystals, temperature, material and device used. Be careful not to overheat the glue, as there is a risk of spreading it out crystal area and affecting the appearance of material (figure 1-2),
  • application side – it is possible to apply from below or above (figure 3-4), however the best is to choose a method whereby the heat reaches a glue as quickly as possible. Some crystals can only be heated from the bottom due to uneven heat transfer (cabochon transfers, creation transfers plus).

For crystals in different sizes, use a compensating pad such as: silicone foam, foam rubber or felt to match the crystals height (figure 5).

SWAROVSKI FAQ
SWAROVSKI HOT FIX CRYSTALS
SWAROVSKI CRYSTALS FLAT BACK
SWAROVSKI FLATBACK SHAPES
LOOSE SWAROVSKI CRYSTALS FLAT BACK

THERMAL PRESS:

When using a heat press, peel off the white protective film from the glued side and leave the protective foil attached on the other side for now, then position crystals in the application area. To protect the hob or multi-layered fabrics from getting stained with glue, it is worth separating them with a Teflon foil. After proper setting of the heat press parameters, start heating. Finally, it is worth pressing the crystals by hand with a clean cloth, but avoid rubbing so as not to move the crystals unnecessarily. Before cooling crystals, gently remove the protective foil from them at an acute angle. If the bonds are too weak, repeat the process with a little longer heating time.

ULTRASONIC DEVICE:

For the ultrasonic device, choose the adapter corresponding to the size of the crystals, pick up the crystal and place it at desired position, the material should be resting on a solid base. Then press the crystal directly and turn on the device. In this case, the glue is activated by the heat generated by the rapid vibration of the device. It is worth getting a device with an additional vacuum pump, thanks to which it sucks up crystals and makes it easier to pick and place them correctly. In the absence of such
a pump, alternatively a transfer foil or tweezers may be used.

HOTFIX APPLICATOR:

Using the Swarovski crystal applicator is a cost-effective option. In order to apply, choose an applicator point adapted to the size of the crystal, heat the applicator, pick up the crystal and when the glue dissolves, place the crystal on the base material and press firmly.

IRON:

If you do not have any of the above devices, it is possible to use a domestic iron, but it must be a steam-free one, as water droplets and steam may have a negative effect on the bond between crystals and material. In order to apply with an iron, depending on the type of crystals and the base material, set the temperature of the iron not higher than 150 °C. In order to avoid penetration of the glue into the subsequent layers of the material, it is worth separating them with felt or cardboard, while on the crystals it is worth placing a Teflon foil, to avoid the iron becoming stained with the glue.

SWAROVSKI HOTFIX
 HOT FIX SWAROVSKI
JEWELRY FINDINGS
APLIKACJA EPOXY GLUE
SWAROVSKI CARE
It is worth keeping in mind that regardless of which method we use, HotFix glue needs about 24 hours to harden, so do not soak or test the quality of the product before this time.
Guidelines for temperature and heating time in relation to crystal type and material are available here: Swarovski guidelines, but keep in mind that these values are approximate and it is always recommended carrying out tests before.

What we need for Non HotFix?

  • Non HotFix crystals,
  • glue,
  • a piece of paper and a stick for mixing,
  • protective gloves, for example nitrile ones,
  • tweezers or a wax stick (e.g. Crystal Katana Tool),
  • a glue dispenser if needed,
  • optionally a degreasing agent, such as: ethanol, acetone or cleaning solvent.

No HotFix application

We apply No HotFix crystals with glue, Ceralun or stone setting machine.
When using glue, it is a good idea to test the surface tension for the wetting properties with a test pen (figure 1-3). If the ink remains visible for 2 seconds, the surface is suitable for gluing, if the ink fades faster
or forms bubbles, the surface is not suitable for gluing and should be cleaned, usually with isopropyl alcohol, acetone or cleaning solvent.

When selecting a glue, few factors should be taken into account such as:

  • the type of cavities (shape, width and depth in relation to the crystals) or resulting gluing gap,
  • type of crystals (foiled or unfoiled),
  • size of crystals,
  • application area,
  • type of base material,
  • glue properties (pot life, viscosity, color, curing time, ease of dosing, shrinkage).

For better connection of crystals with the base material, it is worth using custom-made cavities or dedicated bases (figure 4-5). The cavity facilitates better seating and protection of the crystal against mechanical and chemical factors. They can be made by casting, drilling, milling or water jet cutting.
When applying small crystals in a fitted cavity, it is worth using a strong bonding adhesive, preferably
two part epoxy glue, which has a lower degree of shrinkage and provides greater strength. When deciding on a two-component glue, it is very important to keep the recommended proportions, mix the ingredients until a homogeneous consistency and not to exceed the recommended pot life.

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If the cavity does not fit perfectly to the shape of the crystal and there is a lot of free space after insertion, soft glues, such as silicone, are recommended to fill the empty gap without damaging the bottom of the crystal. For crystals foiled on the bottom, adhesives that tend to shrink significantly are not recommended, because after hardening, the foil may be damaged under their influence. Before starting the application, pour the glue on a piece of paper and then use a stick to apply it to the crystals. In case of more intricate projects, it is worth getting a dispenser.
Regardless of which glue you choose, remove its excess before it hardens with a cotton cloth dipped in a solvent containing isopropyl alcohol. If the glue hardens, it is unlikely to be removed without damaging the crystal surface.
SWAROVSKI APPLICATION
TEST PEN
SWAROVSKI NO HOTFIX FLATBACK CRYSTALS
UHU EPOXY
 SWAROVSKI NO HOTFIX
The application with Ceralun clay is described in the next paragraph.

HotFix and No HotFix care

In case of lightly soiled jewelry, in the form of greasy stains or fingerprints, it is enough to wipe the crystals with a cotton cloth, using white cotton gloves. If jewelry, apart from crystals, also consists of other materials such as leather, wood, resin or textiles, it is recommended to use microfiber or thin, lint-free cotton, lightly dipped in lukewarm water with a little washing-up liquid. In this case, make sure that the liquid used will not affect other materials used in the jewelry. Finally, dry it with dry cotton cloth.
For textiles with HotFix and No HotFix crystals, it is recommended to wash gently by hand in low temperature using a mild detergent. If it is necessary to wash in the washing machine, wash the element inside out or after placing it in a protective bag, also at low temperature, using a mild detergent. Do not tumble dry under any circumstances, you can dry in a towel.
If, despite gentle washing of HotFix, the crystals still fall off, perhaps the temperature was too high or too low during application or the heating time was too short or too long.
If No HotFix crystals fall off, possibly they were applied on an inappropriate area, unsuitable glue was used or insufficient quantities of glue was applied.

Ceralun

Swarovski Ceralun is a two-component ceramic epoxy mass in the form of clay, developed for the application of Crystals from Swarovski, both foiled and unfoiled. It has a dual function, first is mass for inserting crystals in – to make compositions, second is an effective glue, which thanks to its 17 shades can be easily adapted to the design of jewelry, watches, other accessories and even interior design. It can be used on metal, glass, crystal, rubber, wood, cork, some plastic surfaces and porcelain. You can also create 3D models with Ceralun and then decorate them with crystals. After hardening, the mass has a high level of hardness, rigidity, and shock absorbance, it is resistant to sweat, humidity and temperature changes. It is recommended to apply with Xilion Chatons, Xirius Chatons, Xero Chatons, Fancy Stones, Flat Backs No HotFix and Crystal Pearls.

What we need for Swarovski Ceralun?

  • Ceralun,
  • knife and pad,
  • jewelry scale,
  • protective gloves, e.g. nitrile ones,
  • protective eyewear,
  • a wax stick or Crystal Katana Tool, alternatively tweezers,
  • possibly a sieve for crystals.

How to apply Swarovski Ceralun?

To achieve a strong bond with Ceralun, follow the step-by-step instructions:
1. Check the surface tension with a marker pen (same as for No HotFix).
2. Cut the appropriate amount of resin and hardener, usually in a 1: 1 ratio by weight, and check their exact weight with jewelry scale.
3. Mix them together until you get a homogeneous appearance – the ingredients come in different colors, making it easier to recognize when they have been properly mixed together.
4. Pick up the crystals with a wax stick or tweezers and place them in the Ceralun mass, gently pressing to create a composition.
 
It is recommended a maximum working time of three hours at the temperature of 23 °C to set Swarovski crystals. Full hardening takes 72 hours, but it can be reduced by 2 hours by placing the element in the oven at a maximum of 80 °C. To extend its pot life, it is possible to place the mixed Ceralun in a freezer at -20 °C for a maximum
24 hours, however, when defrosting, make sure to get rid of any water generated. Once the Ceralun reaches the lukewarm temperature, you can proceed with setting the crystals.
CERALUN
CERALUN EPOXY CLAY
SWAROVSKI CERALUN EPOXY CLAY
HOW TO APPLY CERALUN
CREATE JEWELRY
APPLYING CRYSTALS IN CERALUN
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SWAROVSKI CRYSTALS
SWAROVSKI BULK
SWAROVSKI RHINESTONES

When placing the crystals in the Ceralun mass, make sure that it is sunk perpendicularly to the correct depth.

Ceralun is available in 17 shades, but if you need less standard colors, you can mix the basic ones. However, it is important to mix epoxy resin and hardener of each color before you mix them together.

Why does Ceralun not harden or the crystals become detached?

  • inappropriate area of the application (see the marker test in HotFix section),
  • wrong mixing ratio,
  • too short time of mixing the ingredients with each other, before homogenous appearance is achieved,
  • in the case of storing mixed Ceralun in a freezer, the time exceeded 24 hours or the temperature was significantly different from -20 °C.

Swarovski Crystal Mesh

Crystal Mesh is a metal mesh with integrated loose crystals available in HotFix for heat application and in No HotFix for hand sewing or machine sewing. The Swarovski mesh is available in a wide range of colors and fittings. The method of applying the HotFix option is described above. Crystal Mesh in the No HotFix version is sewn by hand or with a machine, while Crystal Fine Mesh, due to its very tight structure, is recommended to be sewn only by hand. You can create jewelry from mesh, decorate accessories, and also apply it on clothing.

What we need for Crystal Mesh?

  • Crystal Mesh,
  • sewing machine, domestic or industrial, depending on the needs,
  • needles, sewing threads (monofilament and pure cotton yarn is not recommended due to their limited abrasion resistance),
  • sharp scissors,
  • possibly a height compensator (silicone or rubber foam).

How to apply Crystal Mesh No HotFix?

1. Cut the transparent film between the rows of crystals with a knife, without pulling them apart yet, otherwise their stability will be lost.
2. After cutting the film, there appears some space between the crystal rows, which makes it easier to separate them.
3. Use sharp scissors to cut the metal mesh with the crystals and remove any excess link rings.
4. Crystal Mesh is ready for sewing now.
5. Adjust the needle and thread and set the appropriate thread tension.
6. Start sewing between the rows of crystals, preferably with a straight stitch, and if necessary, apply a zigzag stitch (it is recommended to carry out the test first).
When sewing tall, multi-row elements, problems with the feed of the sewing machine may occur due to the slanting presser foot. To avoid this, position height compensator beneath the presser foot, so it lies flat on the fabric, allowing it to run easily and smoothly.
 
NON HOTFIX SWAROVSKI CRYSTALS
SWAROVSKI CRYSTALS FLAT BACK BULK
NON HOTFIX RHINESTONES
SWAROVSKI CRYSTALS FLAT BACK WHOLESALE
SWAROVSKI FLATBACKS

Crystal Mesh care

If Crystal Mesh becomes dirty, wipe it gently with a damp cotton cloth and then wipe with dry cotton cloth. If the mesh becomes very dirty, wash by hand, if possible after turning inside out, at a maximum of 30 °C, adding a small amount of mild laundry detergent. Dry gently in a towel, do not iron.
For more tips on Swarovski crystals and how to apply them, see “Swarovski FAQ – part 2”
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