Land of Odds - Jewelry Design Center

Crafter's Dilemma:  What Glue Do I Use?

We at Land of Odds get many questions about what glue to use with rhinestones and other beading and jewelry-making projects.

We're craftspersons and silversmiths , and we have a shop where we sell rhinestones, beads, jewelry findings, cabochons and the like.

Nothing is perfect, but based on our experiences, here are some good tips:

(1) Always experiment with your adhesives first, before you use an adhesive on your final project. No one glue works with every project.

(2) Glues vary widely in terms of which materials they stick to, how well they form a bond between two smooth surfaces, and how the glue bond ages, both in terms of durability and color.

(3) Clean the excess glue off your piece before you display or sell it.

(4) You will probably have to rely on more than one type of glue to accommodate all your types of projects.


Superglue is not our favorite!  It often ruins rhinestones and other pieces we use in jewelry-making.  It's bond is tough, but it breaks easily.  Superglue dries like glass, and breaks like glass.

We do, however, use superglue occasionally.  We often use it seal end knots, or coat a frayed strand of cord.  We sometimes use it on crimp beads to enhance the closure.

Hot Glue Guns

Hot glue guns are fun to use.  When the materials you are using are large and bulky, hot glue guns make the projects go faster.  

The glue's bond will not last forever. The glue will yellow with age.


Rhinestone Jewelry

There is a wide variation in the types of pieces called "rhinestones". Basically, rhinestones are mirror- or foil-backed pieces of clear glass crystal, glass or plastic.

Sometimes they are faceted; othertimes they are not. Some rhinestones have a flat back so they can be glued directly to the piece; others have a pointed back so they can fit into a cup or bezel. Each design element in the architecture of the rhinestone -- base material, overall shape, faceting, foil, and effect -- adds to its shine, sparkle and brilliance. The mirror or foil reflects and refracts light. Sometimes, the mirror or foil itself has a special color, effect or treatment applied to it. The clear "glass" can range from, at the most brilliant end, very-leaded glass to somewhat leaded glass to glass to acrylic at the least brilliant end. Sometimes the glass is coated with an effect or treatment.

Your goals for gluing rhinestones into a piece of jewelry or onto a piece of clothing are simple:

1. You want a bond that sticks and is durable
2. You don't want the adhesive to ruin the rhinestone
3. You want the glue to dry clear and "age" clear
4. You don't want the glue to show outside or over the edges of the stone
5. If you've gotten glue on the stone, you want to be able to get it off easily

Never use superglue with rhinestones!  Superglue clouds the stone. Superglue dries like glass, so its bond shatters like glass when the bond is disturbed.

E6000, or any other brand of epoxy, works best with glass crystal and glass rhinestones, as well as gemstones.  Epoxy is a plastic, and sometimes will dissolve or disturb the foils on the backs of acrylic rhinestones, although it is fine for acrylic cabochons or beads which do not have a foil backing.  E6000 dries like rubber, so its bond acts like a shock absorber when the piece is hit, dropped, banged or otherwise disturbed.  E6000 is great for gluing stones on cloth material, as well, and the bond will withstand several machine washings.

A rhinestone glue or Elmer's glue works OK for acrylic rhinestones.

Hot glue guns will work with the stones, but the glue doesn't age well. The bond weakens relatively quickly.  The glue yellows somewhat.

When we use E6000 with rhinestones, we put a little drop of glue on the end of a pin.  Then we touch the glue to the back of the rhinestone. We maneuver the pin-glue-rhinestone over the place where we want the stone to be.  Then we push the rhinestone in place, and simultaneously pull the pin away from the stone.  We rub the stone and around the stone with our finger or the pin to get any excess glue off.   Before it dries, E6000 rubs off like rubber cement.

Suggested Book:
The Crafter's Guide To Glues by Tammy Young

Some additional suggestions about glues:

White glues, such as Elmer's Glue All
- bond is not strong, so useful for lightweight objects only
- bond is not flexible, so not useful for things where there is movement
- may not dry clear
- materials used must be porous

Tacky glues, like hot glue gun
- usually dry clear and are flexible, but can wash out
- body temperature can weaken bond

Clear Craft Glues
- wash out easily
- for lightweight projects

Super Glue
- instant adhesive, that works with many smooth surfaces, but not well with smooth glass surfaces
- will cloud rhinestones
- especially good with plastic pieces
- water resistant, but not best choice for washable projects
- inflexible; does not work well where there is movement

High Tech Adhesives, like E6000 and Bond 527
- not water soluable
- bonds to both porous and non-porous materials
- does not bond well to rubber
- sets slowly, so you can reposition things
- dries clear

Fabric Glues, like No-Sew
- holds up through several dry cleaning cycles
- formulated to glue fabric to fabric
- make also work well to glue various embellishments to fabric

Fusibles, where you melt the glue with an iron or another heat source, such as a transfer
- for applying appliques or transfers
- prewash all materials before fusing

Aquarium Glue (glass cements)
- great for bonding two smooth surfaces of glass

Clear Cements, like G-S Hypo Tube or Watch Crystal Cement
- Doesn't dry as fast as super glue, so can do some repositioning, but bonds strong like super glue
- Good to use for sealing knots in jewelry projects
- Not as strong as epoxies or high tech adhesives
- water resistant and not affected by temperature




About E6000

E-6000 is the jeweler's glue of choice, and our favorite. It is a one-part epoxy, (meaning you don't have to mix anything to make the glue -- it just comes out of a tube).

Perfect for attaching findings to base metal and costume jewelry pieces.

Also, use E-6000 on bead strands to seal end knots and to provide a strong, flexible seal that won't become brittle or damage the bead cord.

E-6000 is safe for use with virtually every type of gemstone and works on wood, leather, vinyl, and canvas.

Non-corrosive and self-leveling, E-6000 adheres in 5 to 10 minutes, and hardens to a clear, waterproof cure in 24 hours.   This means you have about 10 minutes to position and reposition whatever you are gluing.  If you are making jewelry, you should let the piece dry "hard" overnight, before you wear it.

We advise against using superglue for most jewelry-making projects. Superglue discolors stones.

Superglue dries like glass, so its seal shatters like glass when piece is dropped.

E6000 dries like rubber, so its seal acts like a shock absorber when a piece is dropped.

E6000 dries clear.

Two things E6000 won't do:
1. Bond two pieces of smooth glass together, like   two glass disks.
2. Sometimes, it will pull the foil back away from acrylic rhinestones.

Some of our customers prefer 527 glue.   This is the same product as E6000, but it has a thinner consistency, and a pointier nozzle for greater control.

Gluing Marcasites

With marcasites, we always use E6000 (or similar epoxy).  This creates the strongest bond.  

While this is not foolproof, it is the best and longest lasting solution.

Again, never use superglue.  

Also, take off your marcasite jewelry before you wash your hands, or before you attempt to wash the dishes.  The hand-soap and dish-detergent dissolve most glues.   E6000 will withstand this for awhile, but not forever.


Land of Odds


Also, read about Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry

If you have any other questions about which glues to use, or comments about your own
experiences and insights, please email us or call.

We'd be happy to answer your questions.

Warren Feld or James Jones

Land of Odds

Email:  oddsian (at symbol) 


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Be Dazzled Beads
Beads..Jewelry Findings..Books

718 Thompson Lane, Ste 123
Nashville, TN 37204

Near 100 Oaks Mall, Armory Exit off I-65

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