When designing the Queen Of Margonia costume, one thing was evident to me from the beginning: I want bling. This thing needs jewels and lots of them.
Now obviously I can't afford to use the real thing, so I went shopping for rhinestones and glass jewels. As anyone who's ever shopped for them knows, they are not cheap, especially the largish stones I want to use.
One source kept coming up in my searches: AliExpress.com. So I checked it out.
According to Wikipedia, "AliExpress.com is an online retail service made up of small businesses in China and elsewhere offering products to international online buyers. It is owned by Alibaba. ...It facilitates small businesses to sell to customers all over the world, and, just like Amazon, one can find almost anything for sale. It is more accurately compared to Ebay, as sellers are independent, using Aliexpress as a host to sell to consumers and other businesses."
There are lots of stories out there about Aliexpress, including issues about quality and the wrong things being shipped, so I went into it with the attitude that it was worth the gamble for the incredibly low prices.
They say sellers are independent, but I found that within my searches there might be dozens of stores, but they are all selling pretty much the same thing. So I selected my purchases based on the best prices.
How good are their prices? I bought 48 gross of hot fix rhinestones, 190 large glass gems in sew on settings , 600 rice grain plastic pearls and 200 gold tone filigree squares for a total of $91.31. That's a small fraction of what it would have cost to buy in the US, even at wholesale prices, and IF you could even find them. I searched for those sew on jewels everywhere, and found ONE company in the US that sold them, in one color, for $7.98 each. I got them from AliExpress for $2.64 for a bag of 20.
One drawback is that your order will take from three to four weeks to arrive, so this is not the way to go for rush projects, but at these prices you may find it worth the wait.
I ordered three weeks ago and most of my orders have arrived. The rest of them should be here today, and I can't wait to play with them! After I do, I'll make another post about the quality.
Edit: It seems that the last of the order, with the large glass jewels, has been sent to my former address, so it may be a while before I can resolve that and report on their quality. It appears that the issue is due to the post office, not to AliExpress.