How to Decorate Shoes With Rhinestones

Last updated on January 6th, 2022


Rhinestones are small, flat pieces of glass or plastic with a mirror-like surface and come in an array of colors. The word “rhinestone” is derived from the Greek words “rhinos,” meaning nose, and “stations,” meaning stone. Charles Lewis Tiffany patented rhinestones in 1892 as a way to imitate diamonds for use on jewelry. However, it wasn’t until the 1930s when rhinestones started being used for decorative purposes such as shoe buckles and buttons. Many people like to embellish their shoes using these stones. For this reason, today, I will discuss a technique on how to decorate shoes with Rhinestones.

How to Decorate Shoes With Rhinestones

What Do You Need to Decorate Shoes With Rhinestones? 

To get started, you will need:

Rhinestones –

You can buy these in bulk on sites such as eBay or Amazon. The more rhinestones, the better! Please choose your favorite colors, work with them first for practicing, and then use different colors to create your masterpiece. It’s always best to start small with about 2-3 bags of 100 – 200 stones in each bag, depending on the size of the stone.

Once you are comfortable with this amount, please add additional amounts until you have used up all the stones you have purchased. I’ve tried & tested many brands that sell rhinestone stones, but my 2 favorites are GemStars & Crystals Etc (eBay Seller). Each brand has its own characteristics as well as its pros and cons, which I go into detail below:

Glue –

You will need 2 different types of glue depending on what part of the shoe you are working with. If it is a flat area like, for example, an ankle strap or platform, then use a clear, non-tacky craft/fabric adhesive. If you are working with something like a buckle, then use E6000 Craft Adhesive, which is much stronger & thicker but make sure the surface area where you apply the glue is clean & dry to help prevent any residue from forming once dried. What size rhinestones should I buy?

Rhinestones come in many different sizes, so when picking your stones, consider how big/small you want your finished product to be and how many layers of stones will be used. Remember that the more layers you use, the smaller your overall size will end up, so I’d recommend starting with about 1-2 bags worth (100 – 200 pieces each) to get a feel for how many rhinestones you’ll need.

Once you know what colors/sizes work best, then start looking in bulk on eBay or Amazon by searching “rhinestone” or “microwave” and picking out the ones you love! As a reference point for anyone not familiar with sizes, my examples below show some different options & their measurements:

Rhinestone Pliers –

These are necessary if working with bigger stones. They help squeeze the prongs down flat so you can put them on with no spaces between stones. You don’t need a lot of pressure while using these pliers because too much could damage the stone or even push out the metal, which is also sharp, so be careful!

Glue Gun –

Make sure to pick up extra glue sticks & make sure to get one that doesn’t get too hot! The cheap ones tend to burn your fingers easily. If you have kids/pets, I recommend getting one where the flame shoots out from different areas  because they are harder for children/pets to turn on, and they provide more control when dealing with your project:

Using Glue Gun For Setup Rhinesatone On Shoe

Some Tips Regarding Decorating Shoes With Rhinestones

  • If you are working with bigger stones, you can use a small flathead screwdriver to help pry the prongs out. Be careful not to break any part of the stone while doing this. Remember, it’s not an exact science, so if the rhinestone doesn’t fit perfectly, then find another area or use smaller stones in that particular area.
  • You don’t have to be perfect! Just grab some glue & start putting rhinestones on! I did most of my shoes using hot glue because it dries clear, fast and allows for me to put as many layers as I’d like without waiting for drying time and also repositioning multiple times without leaving residue from normal craft/fabric glue, which is tacky and hard to remove once dried. Remember, the messier the glue is when drying, the harder it will be to clean up, so take your time & you’ll have a great finished product!
  • When gluing stones around buckles/straps/peep-toe etc., make sure that you don’t put too much glue, or it will seep into the hardware, causing discoloration or, worse yet, rusting! I dab a small amount on either side where I want my rhinestones to go and hold in position for 30 seconds until secure, then pop the rhinestone on with my pliers & squeeze them together tightly.

A Process on How to Decorate Shoes With Rhinestones

  • Ensure that your shoes are clean and dry before starting to decorate them.
Cleaning The Shoe
  • Press the rhinestones into the glue on the shoe and leave them overnight for you to see the result the next day when they have dried off completely.
  • Keep applying a layer of glitter glue over the stones and dry out naturally before applying another layer of Rhinestone Glitter on top again while ensuring that there is only a small amount of space between each stone to not give any negative effect in the end product.
  • Repeat step 3 until you have achieved an adequate level of coverage or create your own design using different sizes of Rhinestones adhering together with Glue and glitter glue.
  • Apply the glitter glue to the shoes evenly and allow them to dry out naturally before packaging them for sale or gifting purposes.
  • If you find that your work is not clear enough, try applying nail varnish on top of it while making sure that there is some amount of space between each stone for better effects. Nail polish works best with Rhinestones because they are both made of different materials but can still be applied effectively together without any negative results in the end product.
  • The nails should be allowed to dry overnight after applying these colors onto them as an extra precautionary measure to reduce damage risks that may occur otherwise if one were to do it immediately after applying these substances on top.

In addition, there are other ways to decorate shoes with Rhinestones, such as embedding them onto the surface of the shoe with your fingers, especially if you have previously applied some form of glue in that particular section. However, this is not recommended since it alters the material’s original structure and may create a weak point where the shoes can be torn apart easily.

Bear in mind that these methods mentioned above are for decorative purposes only. Therefore it is best to avoid using glue while using nails polish on top because they form a strong bond together and may cover each other up, resulting in fewer effects after drying off.

Best Glue for Rhinestones no Shoes

Rhinestones and other embellishments can be glued onto leather or rubber material using 2 kinds of glue: hot or cold.

Let’s take a look at what glues are suitable for different materials:

  • Hot Glue is waterproof and colorless, making it ideal for use with glass, metal, ceramic, wood, acrylics, etc… It sets in seconds and can bond together uneven surfaces. But it is not suitable for perfuming because the heated glue will melt any perfume.
  • For shoes, it is best used with felt or fabric and rubber items such as cell phone cases, pens, etc.  For decorating plastic-like eyeglasses, you could try this but only if they don’t have hinges that might crack from the heat.
Using Hot Glue On Shoe
  • Cold glue is best for decorating fabrics, leather, and rubber items such as shoes, handbags, etc… The only thing that you cannot use cold glue on are plastics like cell phone cases. Once applied, it can take a few minutes or an hour to set, depending on the temperature. If the surface is uneven or porous, it’s better to spread a layer of water-based glue all over first before applying the rhinestones, then let dry until completely hard before doing anything else.
  • Cold glues come in two types: Textile and Craft Glue. Both of them work well with the fabric, but textile is stronger than craft glue, so it may be suitable for shoes too if you don’t plan on walking too much in them.
  • For shoes, the best method is to use Craft glue with a paintbrush. This will let you be very precise and place your rhinestones exactly where you want them on any material or surface, including suede leather or rubber sole shoes.

Precautions While Decorating Shoes With Rhinestones:

  • Always place the adhesive on your shoes first. Later, you can put on rhinestones or other decorations in the best-desired spot for them.
  • If you need to remove the rhinestones from your shoes after decoration, use acetone or nail polish remover. NOTE: Using water will ruin and dissolve the glue on your shoes! Soak up all leftover residue with a paper towel immediately! Also, make sure that there is no leftover residue before wearing them again, so it does not damage your new decoration when sneezing or when stepping into the water, etc. Please keep in mind this important point!
  • To give a better look at your decorated Shoes with Rhinestones, please do not over-stick many stones at the same place because it might deform your shoes.
  • Before going to be decorated with rhinestones, make sure the surface of your shoes is clean and dry. Otherwise, it will damage the adhesive on your shoes!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Glue Do You Use to Put Rhinestones on Shoes?

Many different types of glues can be used to stick rhinestones on shoes. For this purpose, some of the best glues are hot glue, liquid nails, and super glue.

Hot glue is very easy to use as it dries quickly, but the downside is that it doesn’t work well on wet surfaces like some other glues. Liquid nails also work well when applied over a wet surface and take a little longer to dry than hot glue does. Super glue also dries quickly and will adhere to any surface, but it’s much more difficult to remove from certain materials.

What to Use to Pick Up Rhinestones?

To pick up rhinestones, use a small piece of paper towel or cotton ball to dab the rhinestones with. This will help you pick them up without damaging the product. The best tool to use is an old credit card because it has a smooth surface that won’t scratch your jewelry while picking up rhinestones.

Can I Use Gorilla Glue for Rhinestones?

You can use Gorilla Glue for rhinestones as long as you are careful and ensure that the glue is not exposed to high temperatures.

Gorilla Glue is a suitable adhesive for many purposes. Still, it is not recommended for use with metals or other materials that might react adversely to the chemical composition of the glue.

If you are using Gorilla Glue on rhinestones, make sure that you cover them in a clear coat such as nail polish before applying the glue so that they don’t get damaged during application.


Lastly, we hope that the process mentioned here will surely help you decorate your shoes using Rhinestones. Make sure to follow the precautions properly. Thank you, and have a good day!

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