Dice ID Guide: Chessex Borealis

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.


Two Types of Glitter

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 and Borealis Smoke), the old glitter (or OG) versions have become out-of-print and are hard to obtain outside of the collector’s market. In 2020 Chessex made another change to the Borealis line and added luminary (glow-in-the-dark) particles to all Borealis dice.

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.


Differences in Glitter Type

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.

Not all Borealis colours exist in different glitter versions. Here’s a quick overview for you.

Borealis ColourOld GlitterNew GlitterNew Glitter Luminary
AquerpleX
ClearX
ConfettiX
GreenX
IcicleX
Light GreenXXX
Light SmokeX
Maple GreenX
OrangeX
PinkXXX
PurpleXXX
RedX
Rose GoldX
Royal PurpleXXX
Sky BlueXXX
SmokeXX
TealXXX


The Borealis Luminary Edition

As if the glitter differences aren’t complicated enough, in November 2020, Chessex introducted new, revamped versions of Borealis Light Green, Pink, Purple, Royal Purple, Sky Blue and Teal that outwardly look pretty much the same as the initial new glitter versions, but have an additional feature — glow-in-the-dark luminary particles.

You will be able to see these particles in normal light if you look very closely, and you can definitely see them under blacklight or in the dark, appearing as green-glowing flecks inside the dice.

The Luminary Borealis use the same glitter as the new glitter Borealis. Chessex gave the Luminary Borealis new, unique number codes that differ from those of the regular new glitter Borealis. All regular new glitter Borealis dice went out of print at the time that the Luminary lines were released.

Perhaps a bit of a blessing is that at least Chessex was smart enough to change the Chessex codes for the new luminary versions so that you can tell luminary and non-luminary Borealis apart. 🙂

Borealis ColourNon-Luminary CodeLuminary Code
Light GreenCHX 27425CHX 27575
PinkCHX 27404CHX 27584
PurpleCHX 27407CHX 27577
Royal PurpleCHX 27467CHX 27587
Sky BlueCHX 27426CHX 27586
TealCHX 27486CHX 27585

Telling the Glitter 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

Chessex Borealis Light Green

Old glitter color: deep sky blue, sometimes described at sapphire blue
New glitter color: light blue
Die color:
the same or very similar; NG is sometimes described to have an oily look, although newer versions of this set are known to have a higher degree of clarity

The glitter effect in the OG dice seems to be flat on the surface in daylight, but can show more depth if photographed with a flash. Flash photography can also also cause the Light Green old glitter to have a funky blue-ish purple color effect in photos that people sometimes call “glitchy”. I haven’t been able to reproduce it myself, unfortunately, otherwise I’d be happy to show you.

Borealis Magenta

Chessex 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

Chessex 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

Chessex 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

Chessex 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

Chessex 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

Chessex 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

Chessex 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 before the old glitter became unattainable. 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 on 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 one of the more recent Borealis lines, 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 Icicle, Light Smoke and Rose Gold

In November 2020, Chessex released two entirely new lines of Borealis — Borealis Icicle, and an updated version of Borealis Smoke, called Light Smoke.

Both of these are much like the luminary clear Nebula lines — a clear die base with different colour swirls inside, and the signature luminary particles that glow in the dark. And of course the colour-shifting fine glitter we know from the Borealis line.

Icicle is a clear luminary die base with white swirls and blue-purple shifting glitter and blue ink, Light Smoke is a clear luminary die base with black swirls and silver-blue-purple shifting glitter and silver ink. The glitter in Light Smoke is the same as in Smoke NG. The old version of Borealis Smoke was discontinued when Light Smoke was added to the Borealis lineup in 2020.

In late 2021, Chessex released wave 5 of their Lab Dice (new designs produced in a limited capacity to test popularity), part of which was a new Borealis design coined Borealis Rose Gold. They have a clear base with swirls of metallic copper and light blue glitter. Ink colour is blue. It is not yet determined whether Borealis Rose Gold will see a full release beyond the limited Lab Dice run.

All three lines have unique Chessex number codes. (Icicle: CHX 27581, Light Smoke: CHX 27578, Rose Gold: CHX 30045)


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 (and Maple Green) 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 usually 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.
  • Chessex changed all existing Borealis lines in Nov 2020 by adding luminary particles to the available new glitter designs. All non-luminary Borealis lines except Maple Green were discontinued.
  • Two new Borealis designs were introduced in Nov 2020 (Borealis Icicle and Borealis Light Smoke). The regular version of Borealis Smoke was discontinued at the same time. Both use the newer glitter and have luminary particles inside. In 2021, another Borealis design was introduced as part of the Chessex Lab Dice wave 5, called Borealis Rose Gold.
  • Sometimes old glitter dice are labelled 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/higher clarity, which gives the glitter more depth.

Further Resources

Photos © by Tina Manneborn. Reuse or modification without permission not allowed.