How to paint jewelry and watches

Written by natasha parks
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How to paint jewelry and watches
Painting jewellery and watches improves and personalises old pieces. (Green Embroidered Trinket Box and Jewellery Contents image by Melita from

Painting your old jewellery and watches can bring them back to life. One unusual idea for painting jewellery and watches is to make them glow in the dark, either exclusively or as part of a painted design. Painted or glowing jewellery and watches make interesting gifts, or can improve the look of your old, forgotten jewellery and save you the expense of buying brand new items.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Old jewellery
  • Watch
  • Strontium sulphide phosphor powder
  • Epoxy
  • Small bottle
  • Pipette
  • Protective gloves
  • Goggles
  • Cardboard backing
  • Aerosol paints
  • Tweezers
  • Acrylic paints
  • Sable brush
  • Warm, soapy water
  • Tissue
  • Clear varnish
  • Gold or silver specialist paint
  • Masking tape
  • Breathing mask

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  1. 1

    Purchase a strontium sulphide phosphor powder with a 0.02 molar concentration of fluorinating compound. Mix one part strontium sulphide phosphor powder in your chosen colour with one part epoxy in a small bottle. Pour or pipette the mixture into the back cavity of an old ring or earrings to coat the inner surface. Apply plenty to create a smooth, opaque surface. Allow the ring to dry face down or suspended from a hook for at least two hours. Add extra paint and epoxy if there are gaps or thin areas of paint.

  2. 2

    Wear protective gloves and eye goggles. Lay old bracelets, watches and necklaces on a smooth, cardboard backing that you can discard later, or wipe clean. Spray paint in one colour, or in stripes or blotches for a unique design, using bottles of differently coloured glow spray paint in aerosol can form, which can be purchased ready-prepared from a local art shop. Lift and rotate each item using tweezers. Paint the back. Leave on end or suspend to dry for up to two hours. Coat in epoxy using a clean, dry paintbrush for a smoother finish.

  3. 3

    Choose a range of acrylic paints. Create a more artistic, detailed design, such as a bird or a face on larger, flatter surfaces found on items like broaches or pendants using a small, sable brush. A Number 2 Filbert is ideal for this purpose. Shake your chosen paints 30 seconds at a time, once every fifteen minutes, to release air bubbles and distribute the pigment. Clean your brush between colours with warm, soapy water. Dry the brush with tissue. Clear varnish a broach using a clean, dry paintbrush, to create a smooth, professional-looking, enamelled surface.

  4. 4

    Turn old jewellery and watches into shiny, gold or silver alternatives using specialist spray paints like 18kt or Sterling Silver. Use masking tape to cover watch faces or clasps you wish to keep free of the spray paint. Wear gloves and goggles and a breathing mask. Aim the spray nozzle at the item but keep it back by about half a foot. Create one or two layers. Wait half an hour for the surface to dry, as spray paint dries faster than acrylic paints. Apply another layer until the surface is completely covered. Turn and repeat the same three-coat process on the back. Allow to dry for an hour before removing the masking tape, or the paint will bleed.

Tips and warnings

  • Take care when using paint. Paint is harmful if ingested, or if it gets in your eyes and can damage your clothes. Wash your eyes with cool, clean water if any paint gets in and wear old clothes or a protective jacket. Use non-toxic paint, which is safe for children to use. Some ordinary paints contain chemicals and create fumes which can damage the lungs.

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