Cosplay tutorials: Making gems and jewels

Many of your favourite cosplays have gems, but this can become a headache if you don't find the appropriate shape or the appropriate material for them. So far, I have found these options when you are in need of them.

Option 1 : Gemstones

Gemstones with cabochon shape

This would be the most accurate option, your characters are supposed to wear real gems but gemstones are usually very limited in sizes and shapes. The good point is that they will naturally be the colour you are looking for but the con is they can be expensive (depending on the material). You can find them in bead shops or jewellery shops.

Option 2 : Glass cabochons

Cabochons (refers to the round shape) or glass beads can be found on bead shops or even aquarium shops . You can find them in many sizes and shapes but the maximum size is usually about 30x40mm. The difference with gemstones is that they are made of glass. You can find them coloured but it is easier (and cheaper) to get them clear and paint them. 

To paint cabochons I recommend using nail polish, you can choose to paint the front or the back of the gem. I do prefer the front because glue won't stick so well to the painted back (but if it works, hey, well done). If you decide to paint the back of the gem you can put metallic foil behind it to make it more reflective.

Here you have a tutorial to paint gems

Option 3 : Styrofoam eggs and balls. 

These you can usually find on paint shops or craft shops. You can cut them in half with an exacto knife (or a hot wire cutting machine if you have one).

The problem with styrofoam is that the gem will be opaque, you will have to fake the reflection effect. I recommend using acrylic paints and varnish (acrylic too) but white glue or Mod Podge can be as effective as varnish to get the shiny finish. Styrofoam has a big problem, some glues and paints can melt it! So never use nail polish on them! (some of them work but most don't) also try your paints before applying them.

Pros are that they are very cheap and you can find fairly big ones, the cons are the melting problem and their lack of smoothness in some cases (but it is less noticeable than you think after a coat of paint and glue)

Option 4 : Casting gems

If you want a perfect gem this is your option. You can make your own moulds or buy the prefabricated ones. The material you will need is called poliester resin (you can see it called clear casting epoxy too). You basically have to mix the 2 components of the resin and pour them into your mould. You need a ventilated area and some time to let them solidify.

You can mix some special ink in the resin mixture or paint them as it was explained with the cabochons. You can also use glass paint instead of nail polish in both cases.

Here is a very good tutorial on casting gems with images

Option 5 : Anything you can get

If none of the above works for you, what about a bit of imagination? For example, you could use kinder joy eggs as a mould or even paint them to get big oval gems, at easter you also get lots of moulds for chocolate very cheap, you could fill them with some kind of clay (rubber ones are better), icecubes moulds also work. And if your gem is huge, why don't you consider dimensional adhesive (like Diamond glaze)? I used this over foam on my Eldar costume (I painted it with acrylic paints and added a layer of nail polish to make it shiny).

Alice in Cosplayland

Cosplay lover and manga addict from Spain. Living the adventure in England! Always working on something new!

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