6 Ways To Arrange Nail Art Gems

I love the way gems look on nails.  And I have some seriously nice ones from Urban Sparkles  but admittedly, I can rarely think of a suitable placement for them when the big moment arrives and the client is staring at me awaiting a Pinterest worthy finish.


I have decided.  In true #bigceelittlecee nature, I’m going to break it down real simple and get a few basic “go to” placements embedded in my brain.  So when it’s my time to shine, I’m going to shine bright without a fumble.  If you are like me and find it difficult to apply gems without it looking like a penis, join me in this journey by practising these gem placements too!  If you are struggling to get your gems to stay put, have a look at this video to learn how I get them to stick FOREVER.

My friend Annie from Valencia Beauty Nails is literally the Queen of Gems.  Annie let me borrow some designs from her Instagram and I have used them as inspiration to create this post.  Check out her work, you are going to love it!

The minimalist.

A lot of times, the client just wants a couple gems to finish the look.  I really don’t like just one single gem randomly placed on the nail.  (and I don’t think that is worthy of a spot in this post)

So here are a couple simple placements for those low key clients.

3 gems decending in size from either the cuticle or free edge


You can also put together 3 gems of the same size, in a tiny cluster and place them at the cuticle or in the corner of the free edge.  Sometimes less is more.  That’s where these simple looks will come in handy.


On to the next…..

A sleek line of tiny gems at the cuticle.


This is a super easy one that really draws the eye and could accent a more elaborate gem nail without going overboard, or you could use it along side some single gem nails to help break them up like Annie has done here below.  Its like the middle man design 😉


Nails and photo by Annie Collins-Valencia Beauty Nails

Moving on…

A cluster of gems is a really good starting point for more elaborate designs.  Place a large gem in the middle of the cuticle and wrap 6 or 7 smaller ones around it.  Once you can do this, you will be able to place additional smaller or bigger gems in and around it, or lay some striping tape on the nail to completely change the look, like Annie has done with this beautiful set below!

Nails and Photo by Annie Collins-Valencia Beauty Nails



Once you’ve got a handle on the cluster, you can expand it to make a more elaborate triangle shaped cluster of Gems. You’ll need 3 sizes for this, descending from biggest to smallest.


A triangular cluster of gems ranging in size

Start by laying your biggest gem in the middle of the cuticle.  Then, using the next smaller size, place one gem directly underneath the big one. Then place the remaining four (2 on either side), in a triangle shape.  Repeat step 2 with the smallest gems.  Nestle them into a triangle shape.  You may not be able to have them touching each other 100% but that’s OK.  Just space them evenly.

Nails and Photo by Annie Collins-Valencia Beauty Nails

Annie has used two large gems in the centre of this design, and added a couple more smaller gems to elongate the look.  I like hers better, but that’s nothing new. I envy all of her work.


Lets look at the swirl.

An abstract swirl running down the nail from one corner to the other.

For this design you will need at least 3 or 4 different sizes. You’ll want to lay down the biggest gems first, and dot the smaller ones around the outside of the design.  Once you have all of the gems on, push them into the shape that you want.  You may need to add a couple of the smallest ones on each end, and at the outside edge where you think it would look good.  If you are doing a short nail, you will need to use very small gems.  If you are doing a longer nail, you will be able to use quite big gems as the focal point in the design.
Finally, the full cover.

Left photo: full cover gems with cameleon Polish Base. Right photo: full gem cover on naked Base.

When you do a full cover gem nail, it’s a good idea to put a layer of glitter gel, or this Cameleon Gel on first.  It helps to hide all the naked spots in between.  I notice looking at these pics that I could have added more gems. This was the last nail I did during this photo shoot and they were sparkling so much I’m pretty sure I was nearly blind at this point.  Either way, you can definitely see a difference between the one with chameleon Polish and the naked one.

I used one layer of the number 4  Polish in the cameleon set from MIG.  It shines in greens and silvers in artificial light, and purple/silver in natural light, so it goes really well with these AB gems from Urban Sparkles

Cameleon Gel Polish from MIG Beauty UK

You can adapt this look by doing a gem fade like Annie has done here.  Notice how she has used smaller gems in the more open areas of the design.

Nails and Photo by Annie Collins-Valencia Beauty Nails

I think these are a pretty good selection of basic designs to get us going.  Annie has some seriously intricate designs on her Instagram that I would love to recreate.  But I don’t feel like I’m ready, and I need to get some different shapes and colours of gems to move up to the next level.  For now, I’m going to practice these few designs and see how I can change them up by adding or removing a gem or two.  If you want to use any of Annie’s designs, please tag her in your social media post using @valenciabeautynails / #valenciabeautynails.   She is always very flattered when people recreate her work and give her credit!


Thank you for stopping by, please take advantage of the subscribe button, and dont forget to share this with your nail buddies!!   I always feel like I’m going to get into trouble for sharing my posts on the various Nail Forums, so it will be better if you just get an email when I upload something new!  I love getting feedback ( good or bad ) on my blog posts , so please let me know if it has helped you or if you found it more boring than Sunday dinners at grandmas.


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