Sparkle, shimmer, and shine! Rhinestones are a fabulous addition to any wardrobe or DIY project. But to create dazzling designs with these little crystals, you need to have the right tools at your disposal. In this ultimate guide to your rhinestone toolkit, we list the essential items you need to make projects that glimmer with creativity.
Regardless of the type of rhinestones you’re using, you’ll want to have these essential items in your toolkit.
All About Rhinestones
Rhinestones come in all shapes and sizes, so you must choose the right ones for your project. With so many options, it can be overwhelming. But by considering these essential factors, you can narrow down your options.
Types of Rhinestones
There are several main types of rhinestones: crystal, glass, resin, and acrylic. Crystal rhinestones, the highest quality of glass—if made by a reputable manufacturer—have a higher quality and shine, making them perfect for high-end projects like bridal gowns, stage performance, or evening wear. Lower-quality glass, such as that used in resin and acrylic rhinestones, is made from molds instead of precision machine cut facets. Rhinestones with fewer quality standards than that of a reputable brand may be more affordable, but you do sacrifice sparkle and flash. For a simple craft or children's project, these rhinestones may do the trick.
Sizes, Colors, and Shapes
Rhinestones come in various sizes, colors, and shapes, so you can mix and match them to create unique designs. Manufacturers measure the size of the rhinestone in “SS,” or Stone Size. The smaller the number, the smaller the stone. Millimeters “mm” are also used to measure rhinestones. For example, 20ss is 4.7-5mm, depending on the brand. Colors range from classic crystal to vibrant hues, while shapes include round, teardrop, marquise, navette and more. Consider your design’s theme and your personal style when selecting the right rhinestones.
Storage: Keep Your Sparkle Organized
Efficient and organized storage is key when working with rhinestones. Whether you have a small collection or a massive assortment of rhinestones, finding the perfect storage solution is crucial. Pretty acrylic storage is visual and fun to display; however, storing rhinestones in their original packaging can also work.
Invest in a Rhinestone Organizer
Look for a versatile organizer with compartments so that you can keep different types and colors of rhinestones separate. Ideally, the organizer should also have a clear lid so that you can easily see what’s inside without having to open it. Our Crystal Containers with Storage Case is a very popular option.
Label Your Rhinestone Collection
To save time when you’re working on a project, label each compartment or section in your organizer with the type, size, and color of the rhinestones it contains. This will help you find the right rhinestones easily and prevent any mix-ups.
A Trusty Pick-Up Tool Is a Must
With all those tiny rhinestones, you’ll need a reliable pick-up tool to make your project more manageable. Luckily, there are several options to make rhinestone placement a breeze.
Pick-Up Tool Options
A wax pick-up pencil, such as a Pick-N-Stick, Pick-Me-Up, or Crystal Katana, is a popular choice for picking up rhinestones. The wax tip grabs the rhinestone, allowing you to place it on your project with ease. You can also use tweezers, but depending on your rhinestone size, these may be trickier to use.
Magic Tray That Flips Rhinestones Right-Side-Up!
To go along with your pick-up tool or rhinestone applicator gun, most people love the magical tray. A magic textured base flips rhinestones right-side-up with a light shake of the tray. The tray also closes and works great as short-term storage for your project crystals.
Nothing is worse than accidentally gluing your clothes together when adding your brilliant rhinestones. To avoid this mishap, use padding.
To ensure the glue doesn’t seep through the fabric, insert protective pads between your clothing layers. Padding such as foam or felt can absorb excess adhesive; however, wax paper is another popular choice to block the fabric from sticking to the reverse side.
For Hotfix Rhinestones
Hotfix rhinestones have adhesive pre-applied on the back. Hotfix rhinestones work on most fabrics; you just need to test the heat sensitivity of the fabric. A fabric with a lot of nylon, for example, will not hold up well to heat. The rhinestone adhesive is melted using a heat source such as an iron, heat press, or handheld hot fix applicator. Then, press the rhinestones onto the fabric and let them dry or cure. If you’re a hotfix rhinestone user, make sure to include these items in your toolbox.
Applicator Gun: A Rhinestone’s Best Friend
A rhinestone applicator gun, such as an “As Seen on TV” BeJeweler, is a must-have tool for any rhinestone enthusiast. It makes the process of adhering hotfix rhinestones to your desired surface easier and more precise. It picks up your stone, heats the glue, and then releases it as you place the stone on the fabric. It is the cleanest and strongest application for fabric.
Choosing the Right Applicator Gun
When selecting an applicator gun, opt for one with an on/off switch and a comfortable grip that makes it easy to hold and maneuver. The BeJeweler Pro is a great option. It is time tested and was the preferred tool of choice of Swarovski's Professor of Crystal for many years. Check out our YouTube channel to see many classic videos showing this great tool in action.
Tips for Using Your Applicator Gun
Before you start using your applicator gun, practice on a scrap piece of fabric or material to get a feel for how the gun works and what temperature settings work best for your rhinestones. This will help you avoid making any mistakes when working on your actual project.
Hotfix Applicator Tips: The Key to Rhinestone Precision
Applicator tips are essential for achieving precise and accurate placement of your sparkling stones.
Variety Is Essential
Having an assortment of applicator tips in different sizes is important, as different rhinestone sizes require different tips. This ensures you’ll always have the right tip for the job, no matter how big or small your rhinestones are.
Care for Your Tips
To keep your applicator tips in top condition, always clean them after each use. This prevents any residue build-up, which could affect the performance of your applicator gun. Gently wipe the tips with a soft cloth or cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.
Using a Heat Press or Iron
If you choose to use a heat press or iron, you will want to check the manufacturer’s suggested heat setting, press time, and press pressure. You will also want a barrier fabric, such as a protective guard sheet, for the heat press. This will protect your fabrics from the heat source while still heating the rhinestones enough to stick.
For Non-Hotfix Rhinestones
Non-hotfix rhinestones don’t have pre-applied glue on the backing. You need to apply the glue yourself. If you’re using non-hotfix rhinestones for your project, here are some additional tools you’ll need on hand. Many people prefer non-hotfix rhinestones when applying them to fine fabrics, such as chiffon, mesh, and nylon Lycra. Non-hotfix rhinestones are the only option for glass, acrylic, metal, wood, etc. Hotfix rhinestones are only to be used on fabric.
Finding the Perfect Glue
The right glue is crucial for keeping your non-hotfix rhinestones rhinestones in place. You have to find one that works best for your project.
Rhinestone Glue Options
E-6000 is a popular adhesive for rhinestones, as it’s strong and dries clear. It’s perfect for bonding rhinestones to fabrics, metals, and glass. There are some warnings about the potency of E6000, so make sure to use it in a well-ventilated area. Another excellent option is Aleene’s Jewel It, similar to Beacon GemTac, which is water-based and dries clear. When using glue on clothing or accessories, make sure it’s washable to avoid damage in the long run.
Glitz It Up With Syringes
Syringes control the amount of glue you use on your rhinestone project. They are a huge help when dispensing small dots of glue onto your project. You can pick different size tips depending on the size of the rhinestone and the desired size of the dot of glue you want. For example, 3cc syringes are a great size to hold comfortably in your hand and to make the process of dispensing small glue dots quicker and easier.
By using this ultimate guide to your rhinestone toolkit as a reference, you can start creating your rhinestone toolkit today! RhinestonesU.com has bulk rhinestones of all shapes and sizes. And don’t forget to check out our selection of glue, pick-up tools, applicator guns, tips, and syringes! You’ll have everything you need to create dazzling designs that sparkle on any surface.