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Using photos in jewelry

Help! I make jewelry with tintypes, so a friend has asked me to
make a “memory” bracelet for his mother using present-day photos of
her parents, now deceased. The tintypes seem so indestructible
having survived for more than 100 years now that I don’t protect
them other than putting them in a frame. But I’d like to come up
with some way to protect the current photos I need to use for this
bracelet. Ideally I’d like to put some sort of thin protective coat
of something on before riveting them into their frames. Hate to
admit it, but I am very tempted to use clear nail polish–yikes!

Any ideas??
Thanks, Madelyn

1 Like


You could use clear epoxy resin to coat the photos. The only problem
with that is you’ll need some kind of “wall” like a bezel to set the
photo in before you apply the epoxy. Without a wall, the epoxy can
crack or chip off. Also, if you do decide to use the epoxy make sure
to get one with a long set-up time and stay away from the 5-minute
fast drying ones because they don’t give you enough time to work
with. Hope this helps.


Hi Madelyn, You can use a spray lacquer that may be purchased at
professional photography supply stores. There are earth friendly
ones that are water based, and they come in semi-gloss, matte, and
glossy finishes. I have used them for years in my business
(pro-photographer), and also in many assembled art pieces.

Good luck!

Madelyn, how about photo etching onto metal, dye-sublimation
printing ( commercial process of printing photos onto aluminium), or
setting under acrylic sheet?

Christine in Sth Australia


I recently found a NYC vendor who makes custom watch crytals. These
can be made in varying thicknesses and “to order” shapes. Perhaps you
could create the size for a cover over the photos plus have the holes
drilled for your rivets, too.

Uptown Material House, Inc.
50 West 47th St.

Best wishes,


I would forego the nail polish - I think it would yellow.

I successfully used OmniGel (from to affix and
then put a protective coating on a photo in an unconventional silver
locket recently. It doesn’t yellow, and it’s really strong and easy
to use.


I recently took a class from Susan Lenart Kazmer - she adds a thin
piece of clear plastic or mica between a metal frame and a fragile
element like a photograph.


I wouldn’t use the photos themselves, especially at first (until you
know that the system you choose will work and will not damage the
tintypes). Instead, have you looked into products such as Lazertran?
Lazertran is a relatively new product which permits the user to
transfer an image to a “decal” or sorts that can be used on all sorts
of surfaces, from silver and gold to stone and even fabrics such as
silk. (There are two different types of Lazertran so be sure to look
for the right type.) Once you transfer the image, you can then cover
it with some type of protective material that would work well with
the metal that you are using. This method is used quite heavily by
crafters, especially those working with metals and with clays. Good

Durenamel from Rio Grande works really well on photographs. It
doesn’t yellow as it ages either. There are 2 different hardeners.
Depending on your needs. Of course you would have to have a bezel to
contain it. No connection to Rio just know it’s a neat material.

God Bless you