by Tina Manneborn

Most people who develop an interest in dice and dice collecting almost inevitably eventually stumble across the Chessex Borealis line. You know, those semi-translucent dice with the very fine glitter. They’re really quite pretty, offered in several different colors, and actually available in two types of glitter. Which, admittedly, is veering into slightly dice-nerdy territory, but the old glitter vs. the new glitter identification is something that collectors hold near and dear to their heart.

So what are these two different types of glitter and why not just stick to one?

The answer is simple: The glitter change by Chessex was not voluntary. This happened around 2016, when the glitter material that Chessex had been using for many years in their Borealis lines became a controlled substance because it was starting to be used in the production of Euro bank notes. It was no longer possible to obtain it, and Chessex had to look for alternatives. This is when they changed from the so-called “old glitter” to the “new glitter”.

While the new glitter (or NG) dice are still largely available in stores (with the exception of Borealis Magenta), the old glitter (or OG) versions have become out-of-print and are hard to obtain outside of the collector’s market. But what is all the rage about the old glitter, you may ask. Why is it so popular that collectors are hunting for it? It’s hard to explain if you’ve never seen the two glitters in person. But next to the rarity aspect that may entice some collectors, the old glitter is just, simply put, a lot prettier.

It’s hard to capture in photos or videos, but the old glitter has more depth to it, and the color shifting effect is more pronounced. In some Borealis lines, the dice themselves are more translucent, which makes the glitter effect more stunning. This may be a subjective statement, but the old glitter versions just look better.

How exactly are the two kinds of glitter different?

This is where it gets tricky, because–again–this is hard to explain and showcase. Most people who have seen the two glitters side by side with their own eyes will likely be able to tell you which is which, but for those who haven’t or need a refresher, we will try to do our best to show the differences in the glitter in photos.

What complicates matters is that not all Borealis dice use the same color glitter. In some, it is mostly green, in others mostly blue, in yet others gold or rainbow colored. However, as a general rule you can say, if you see glitter that has a distinct green tint, your dice are going to be old glitter. This applies for Borealis Purple, Sky Blue and Pink. Old glitter in Teal and Royal Purple has a distinctive teal tint. In some lines the old glitter dice are more translucent, particularly in the Pink and Teal lines.

Sometimes OG dice are labeled as “OOG” (old old glitter), which is a misnomer because it implies there is a third type of glitter, which there is not. OOG usually indicates that the die is more translucent, which Chessex has confirmed to be an unintentional production variance. This is especially prominent in the Smoke and Magenta lines, and gives the glitter more depth. OOG dice have the same type of glitter as OG dice.

How to tell the two glitter types apart

Unfortunately, the insert cards in the Chessex dice boxes are no help in distinguishing between OG and NG, since Chessex didn’t change the card labels when they changed the glitter. The only way to really tell the two types of glitter apart is by looking at them. Below are some photos that might help you figure it out.

Borealis Light Green

Old glitter color: deep sky blue
New glitter color: light blue
Die color:
the same or very similar; NG is sometimes described to have an oily look

Borealis Magenta

Old glitter color: gold, more coarse glitter
New glitter color: gold, fine glitter
Die color: the same or very similar; some OG dice can be more translucent than others (labeled “OOG” by some collectors)

Magenta glitter is difficult to identify, especially if you don’t have a direct comparison. It can help putting the die directly on a flashlight. If there is blue glint to the glitter, it’s OG. NG would not have any blue glimmer if being illuminated.

Pipped Magenta dice were never produced in NG since pips don’t sell as well as the polysets, and the stock for the old glitter versions never ran out. Hence all pipped Magenta dice are OG.

Borealis Pink

Old glitter color: turquoise blue with a green tint
New glitter color: light blue, finer glitter
Die color: NG dice are only semi-translucent and have an oily look, OG dice are almost translucent

Borealis Purple

Old glitter color: gold with green tint
New glitter color:
gold
Die color: the same or very similar; somewhat translucent with darker swirls

Borealis Royal Purple

Old glitter color: blue with teal tint
New glitter color: blue, finer glitter,
Die color: the same or very similar; some OG dice can be more translucent than others (labeled “OOG” by some collectors); NG dice are sometimes described as having an oily look

Borealis Sky Blue

Old glitter color: gold with green tint
New glitter color: gold, finer glitter
Die color: the same or very similar; somewhat translucent with darker swirls

Borealis Smoke

Old glitter color: full rainbow spectrum with warmer colors
New glitter color: silver, turquoise and purple
Die color: the same or very similar; some OG dice can be more translucent than others (labeled “OOG” by some collectors)

Borealis Teal

Old glitter color: turquoise
New glitter color: blue, finer glitter
Die color: NG dice are only semi-translucent and have an oily look, OG dice are almost translucent

Borealis Aquerple, Clear, Confetti, Green, Orange, and Red

Some older Borealis lines, namely Aquerple, Clear, Confetti, Green, Orange and Red, were never made with new glitter, and production of these lines was stopped when the old glitter was no longer available. These only exist with one type of glitter (the “old” one). Additionally, Confetti, Green, Orange and Red were only released as limited editions, so a smaller amount of them was made than Aquerple and Clear, which makes them hard to obtain and sell for high prices in the collecting market.

       

Borealis Maple Green

The Maple Green Borealis line was released in spring 2019 when Chessex unexpectedly found remaining stock of the old glitter in one of their warehouses. While the glitter for these is limited, Chessex has said that it should last them several years, even with spectacular sales. Even though the Maple Green dice are the newest Borealis line, they technically use the old glitter.

Compared to the older Borealis Green line, the Maple Green dice have yellow ink, while the Green ones have white ink. The color of the Maple Green dice is a slightly darker green, the glitter color is similar–a yellowish gold.

Borealis in a nutshell

  • Chessex was forced to change the glitter for the Borealis lines because the material was starting to be used in European currency and thus became a controlled substance they no longer had access to.
  • The change from the old to the new glitter occurred some time around 2016, but there is no fixed cut-off date as the change was gradual.
  • Borealis Aquerple, Clear, Confetti, Green, Orange and Red were only made with old glitter. There are no new glitter versions of these.
  • Borealis Confetti, Green, Orange and Red were limited runs, and thus are now very hard to find (and expensive to acquire).
  • Pipped Borealis Magenta dice were never produced with new glitter. All pipped Magenta dice are OG.
  • Borealis Maple Green was a line newly released in spring 2019 with Chessex’ last remaining stock of the old glitter that had been found in a warehouse.
  • Sometimes old glitter dice are labeled OOG (old old glitter), which is a misnomer because it implies there is a third type of glitter, which there is not. OOG usually indicates that the die is more translucent, which gives the glitter more depth.

Further Resources

Borealis Glitter Identification Guide as a PDF

Dice DB entry on Chessex Borealis

Banner photo taken by Tessa Gunnell.