How to Apply Diamonds on Nails

Gems for manicures come in many shapes, sizes and colors.
... Paul Katz/Photodisc/Getty Images

Add a little bling to your manicure by applying diamonds, rhinestones or crystals. Whether you add just one for a hint of glimmer or a grouping of gems to create a sparkling design, embellishing your nails is surprisingly simple, although you'll need a good set of tweezers on hand to handle the tiny jewels while you apply them to your nails.

Draw your design on paper before starting the application process. This is especially important if you intend to create swirls or intricate designs with the gems. If you intend to only use one as a pop of sparkle or apply them in a straight line down the center of your nail, you won’t need to draw a design ahead of time.

Soak a cotton ball in non-acetone nail polish remover. Swipe it over each fingernail to remove your old polish.

Run the rough side of a dual-sided nail file over your fingernail tips to shape them according to your preference. Each stroke should go in the same direction rather than back and forth. Use the smooth side of the file to buff the edges and smooth them out.

Dip a nail brush in a bottle of base coat polish. Wipe any excess onto the bottle's inner rim and place the tip in the center of your nail, right in front of the cuticle.

Paint a stripe down the middle of the nail and then another curved stripe down each side to completely cover the nail.

Allow two minutes for the base coat to dry before applying the first coat of the nail color of your choosing. When you're applying color, finish the painting process by painting a thin horizontal line across the tip of your fingernail. Wait two minutes and apply a second coat of color.

Paint a coat of clear polish as a top coat. While the polish is still wet, pick up the diamond with tweezers and place a dot of nail art glue on the back of it. Place the diamond on your nail and press it lightly into place.

Repeat as necessary to apply the diamonds according to your pattern. Let your nails dry for at least 15 minutes before touching to test for dryness and another 25 minutes before you do anything with your hands.

  • Avoid painting a top coat over the diamonds. The polish -- even if it's clear -- alters the way the light hits the gems and gives you less sparkle.
  • Although gems can be used on their own, they can also be used to give a painted design a little extra sparkle. For example, make a shimmering flower by using a small nail art brush or a bobby pin to paint four or five petals in a color that contrasts with your base coat. Then, glue the diamond in the center as an accent.
  • If you want a super-durable manicure, use gel polish for your top coat and embed the gems in the gel. Then, cure your mani under an ultraviolet light.

Caryn Anderson combines extensive behind-the-scenes writing experience with her passion for all things food, fashion, garden and travel. Bitten by the travel bug at the age of 15 after a trip to Europe, Anderson fostered her love of style and fashion while living in New York City and earning her degree at New York University.