Guest Post: Gel Nail Art with Swarovski Crystals

I have a treat for you today!! I have long been admiring Kim Baker’s gorgeous gel polish manicures in some online forums. She creates elaborate designs with crystals, beads and gems that awe and inspire. I asked if she would be interested in writing a guest post to share her technique, and thankfully she accepted. Enjoy! ~ Andrea

Update:  Kim now has a blog!  Visit her at Ten Little Canvases. - gel polish with Swarovski crystal embellishments

Gel II Sky Blue, stamped with Sally Hansen rnp Gone Grey

Hello everyone, Andrea has invited me to let you know how I do my crystal manicures. I get a lot of my inspiration from some of the gorgeous Japanese nail art I’ve seen on the internet. I’ll have ideas rolling around in my head sometimes for days so the first thing I will do is swatch my designs to see if what’s in my head will translate nicely to the nail. Once I settle on a design, I gather all the gems and embellishments I plan to use and any tools like the Magical Pick and dotting tool or toothpick. I then do my gel polish mani as normal except for the top coat. I remove the sticky layer from the color coat with alcohol. - gel polish with Swarovski crystal embellishments

TruGel Boysenberry (purple) , IBD Hot Springs (green) Ink Diamond Snow (golden shimmer) stamped with rnp Sally Hansen Commander in Chic

Now I’m ready to apply the gems. One great tip is to use Gelish Foundation as the “glue” to place the gems and other embellishments in, using the gel also allows you to reposition any of your design if you need to. I swear Gelish Foundation is better than Super Glue, lol. Since using it I have not lost any crystals. You can use Super Glue but in my experience I did lose some gems using it. I will place a little Foundation gel on a small piece of foil and then using the dotting tool I place the gel on the nail where I want my crystals. Using the Magical Pick I pick the gems up and place them into the gel I laid down. Once I get the design where I want it I will cure for 30 seconds in an LED lamp to lock the gems in place. Now it’s time to top coat, I usually apply 2 coats over EVERYTHING, this helps to further secure the design. With normal wear the topcoat will wear off the tops of the stones but they should remain secure.

I get a lot questions about what crystals I use and what colors and sizes. I prefer Swarovski stones because they really can’t be beat for the sparkle and color selection but there are some other economical alternatives like Korean DMC (diamond machine cut) glass stones. I prefer to buy from places that sell by the single stone so I can get more colors and sizes without breaking the bank. I will usually get 25-30 stones in a pack for about $1.75 – $2.50. If you are careful with your soak off you can reuse the stones. Good sizes to start with are SS5 – SS8, when I first starting using crystals I wouldn’t use anything bigger than SS6 but I have found that combining both smaller and larger (up to SS10) stones can make for much more interesting designs. As far as colors, I started with about 6-7 basic colors: clear, red, blue, green, yellow, pink and purple. Some of my favorite stones are the Swarovski opals, they really do look like opals on the nail and the AB (aurora borealis) stones, these have a special coating that make them flash a rainbow of colors.

With some many colors and sizes there really is no limit to what you can create, let you imagination go wild! - gel polish with Swarovski crystal embellishments

Mild East #69 (green, Ebay) stamped with Sally Hansen rnp Flashy Fuchsia. I would not recommend this gel brand because the soak off was a nightmare. Took over an hour to get it all off!

Swarovski Crystals:

Magical Pick:

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15 Responses

  1. Lesley says:

    Thank you Kim. what an inspiration. You truly are the Queen of nail art using stamping and crystals.

  2. marika says:

    your crystal manis are so awesome Kim. I think I am going to give them a go. (*of to ebay she scurries*)

  3. Anna says:

    So pretty!

  4. Cathy M says:

    Wow, these are so beautiful! You are really talented. :) These all look like princess nails. <3

  5. Marianthi says:

    Amazing nails! Thanks for the eye-candy!

  6. Wow! So awesome….Where can we see other designs from Kim? :)

    • Ann says:

      Seconded! I’ve looked all over the interwebz for more of her work but I haven’t com across it yet… Is she on Pinterest? Instagram?

      • Andrea says:

        She isn’t on any social media sites, but she’s considering starting her own blog. I’ll be sure to post if and when her work is available somewhere else. :)

  7. Lesley says:

    We’re ALL on standby… ;-) No pressure Kim. lol

  8. Cadence says:

    I just had my nails done this exact way, but when the top coat was applied over my Swarovski crystals, it rounded out their facets. They now look like bubbles or domes instead of gems, and I’m terribly upset. Is there anything I can do?

    • Andrea says:

      I don’t think there is anything you can do. The top coat is necessary to hold them in place. It’s possible that the top coat may wear down a little after a few days.

  9. Inda says:

    Your work is lovely. Thank you for explaining this process. I’ve been doing my own gel manicures for just over a year but never attempted gems/stones/etc. I can’t wait to try now.

  10. Sharon Medran says:

    Thanks Kim you seem to always have the answer I need.

  11. Kristie says:

    Hi, On the sky blue nails, could you please tell me how the silver beading & gemstone prongs are done?
    These are so beautiful!