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colorless imitation stone of paste or leaded glass, 1879, a loan-translation of French caillou du Rhin "Rhine pebble," so called because they were made near Strasburg, on the River Rhine, and invented there late 17c. Extensively worn later 18c.
Rhinestone jewelry, a reproduction of the ornaments of the Louis XV. period, is all the rage in Paris. The Rhinestones are as brilliant as diamonds, and being set in silver, will stand any amount of wear or of cleaning. ["The American Stationer," March 20, 1879]
colourless, faceted glass used in jewelry; also foil-backed or silvered cut glass used to imitate diamonds. Originally used to designate gemstones cut from rock crystal obtained from the Rhine River, Germany, the name historically has been applied to faceted rock crystal in general. See also paste