Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but if you really want to elevate those rocks to bestie status, they’re not just for adorning your ears, fingers and neck—go for the nails. Okay, we’re not saying you should glue literal diamonds to your tips—unless you're Megan Fox, that is—but you can achieve a similar glam and sparkle with rhinestones, gems, chrome, charms, and even piercings. They’re all part of the latest "nail jewelry" trend.
“Nail jewelry has become the ultimate way of showing individuality, self-expression and style,” says Pattie Yankee, New York City-based Celebrity Nail Artist and consultant for Dashing Diva. “Nails have become an important part of fashion, and just like we wear jewelry on our body to accentuate our clothing, nails trends are adding jewelry to accentuate nail extensions and to add dynamic to nail art.”
There’s no singular definition of what nail jewelry consists of. Essentially, if you can add it to your nails, it works. “Nail jewelry typically refers to authentic gold jewelry pieces, such as charms or dangling gold or gem pieces that are attached by piercing a hole in an artificial nail extension,” Yankee says. “Nail jewelry can also include crystals, in some instances small authentic diamonds, metal charms, 3D nail art with chrome, and large chunky glitter or confetti pieces.”
Read on for everything you need to know about nail jewelry, including how to get the look.
Where You've Seen It
“This trend actually originated in the late '80s and early '90s where gold charms and pierced nail jewelry pieces were a top request from salon clients,” Yankee says. “It was reintroduced in the past couple of years when '90s fashion styles became popular again. Nail piercings, diamond accents and crystals were also spotted on certain celebrities and music artists, which really influenced its popularity.”
Unlike most nail art trends, this one hasn’t seen a renaissance since the age before social media. “Like all trends these things are cyclical—last time these were trending was pre-social media in the '90s and now a whole host of new creators have re-found this trend and blasted it across social media, which has really seen pick up,” says Thea Green, Nails INC Founder.
Another reason nail jewelry is gaining traction is we’ve seen seemingly every type of nail art come and go, from glazed donut to blush nails, and this is taking it to the next level. “Nail art has really been gaining momentum for the last few years now, so it only makes sense that manicurists, brands and creators are constantly looking for ways to innovate and push forward,” Green says. “I’m obsessed with anything to do with nails and the more we can have fun with product development the better.”
Why It's Trending
This is one fashion trend that isn’t so risky. “The best thing about jewelry nails is that it’s one of the simplest ways to follow fashion trends without too much commitment or expense,” Green says. “I have girlfriends who paint their nails in the evening as a moment of self-care and creativity as you would with any other craft hobby. Nail jewelry is another way to have fun with nails.”
It’s also an easy way to elevate your look. “I love that nail jewelry really makes a statement when incorporated into a beautiful nail extension,” Yankee says. “It takes nail art to that next level and brings attention to nail art and nails in general.”
How to Wear Nail Jewelry
Seeing a pro is an obvious option if you want to get in on the trend. “After a typical nail extension is applied to the nails and finished with gel polish, charms or crystals are applied in a pattern on the nails using a thick viscosity LED cured ‘gem gel’ or a gel adhesive such as Dashing Diva Fast Bond Glue ($15),” Yankee says. “The charms and crystals typically are not coated with a top gel, in order to fully show off the facets of the crystals so they ‘bling’ to their full potential.”
But if you’re looking to DIY, there are alternatives for those who want to skip the glue altogether. Yankee recommends Dashing Diva Bejeweled Nail Art ($7) stickers you can use on top of your extensions, or already-made press on nails with crystal studded designs.
Green’s go-to is the Nails INC Pearlfect Mani ($16). “Use the duo shades to create a base color,” she says. “My favorite is to then adorn your ring finger with pearls—go big by ‘dotting’ them all over the nail or use in a more subtle way along the smile line.”
For pierced jewelry, once nails are completely finished with gel polish and top gel, a tiny hole is pierced in the extension using an appropriately sized bit with an electric file or by using a small manual charm drill, Yankee explains. “Once the hole is created, the ring portion of the jewelry that holds the dangle is separated with a pair of small needle nose pliers,” she says. “The piece is carefully slipped through the hole with the dangle still attached. Then, using the pliers, carefully squeeze the ring portion closed, allowing for the dangle piece to hang freely.”
As an alternative, to get a gel extension quickly, Yankee suggests the Dashing Diva Salon Gel Nails, such as the Here to Slay Gel Nail ($9) and Scene Stealer Gel Nail ($9). “Several styles are already accented with crystals,” she says. “There are also several styles without jewelry that would be the perfect canvas for a piercing. These are especially convenient as the charm could be added or pierced prior to applying, making it super simple to achieve this look at home.”