Being able to color metal just adds a whole new dimension to handmade jewelry. Some designs might just need that extra splash of color. 

So I began to test out different types of paints for metals. The four products I chose to try are shown below. They each have their pros and cons so which you choose will depend on what you want to achieve. What I wanted is a way to get the enamel look without a kiln or torch!

Don't get me wrong. There is nothing bad about having all silver tone charms and components if you prefer a monotone color.  Here are some TierraCast charms and focals I have received and collected over the years. They are readily available from many sellers.  My favorites are their new nature inspired ones such as the bees, flowers, shells and dragonflies

I wanted to test out the metal paints in a comparative manner so I chose to use these TierraCast Greek letter charms. 


The first product I tried was a set of Artistro multi-surface pens with extra fine tips. These are water based, non-toxic and odorless. They can be applied on any surface like rocks, glass, ceramics, metal, wood, paper, polymer clay and so on. 

I did not need to prep the charm surface. The ink just flowed thickly onto the metal. Great coverage. It's cost effective in that you get so many colors in a box. Also worthwhile if you do not intend to do a lot of coloring. But the colors lean on the primary color range and might not be what you want for jewelry making. 


The next product I tried was Gilder's Paste - this was the Foundry Bronze. I had to lightly sand the charm surface before the pigment would stick to the charm. A heavier coverage seems to make the coloration look clumpy when I wanted it to look like enamel.

Although I personally did not like it on these charms, Gilder's Paste does work very well in my previous tutorials :

In my Gilded Stamped Earrings tutorial, the Gilder's Paste (Inca Gold) added a lovely touch of color to the textured metal. 

Gilder's Paste also works well on other surfaces as illustrated by my tutorial on how to gild stamped leather bracelets

The key to using Gilder's Paste is to apply it on rougher surfaces. Gilder's Paste can dry out but you can revive it using something safe like baby oil


Swellegant metal coatings come in generous bottle sizes. There is also a sealer as well as surface prep solution . This brand also has dye oxides like red which will add color to a surface that has a Swellegant metal coating. See this tutorial for more on adding beautiful Swellegant colors on metal filigrees. 

For Swellegant to work well, you do have to prep the surface - lightly sand the metal as well as apply the prep solution - before "painting" the metal coating. And definitely go with two coats. The metal coating solution is more dilute in terms of pigment amounts so I found it harder to cover my Greek letter charm. 

Using the sealant is a must to preserve the work. 


Ranger's Vintaj patinas like this weathered copper set, turned out to be my favorite for coloring smooth charms. I could achieve an enamel like look without any preparation. Saves a lot of time! I first tried using a fine brush to apply but that turned out to be too much. So I switched to toothpicks - a tip from my friend and reader Aims who uses Vintaj patinas in her work (more about her below). 

Great coverage! 1-2 coats depending on whether you want a little metal peeking through. 

I didn't need much on the toothpick to move the thick paint on the charm.  Tip : Don't throw away the plastic cups. No need to clean them either. Vintaj Patina like Swellegant dries pretty fast - about 15 minutes.  So I just add more of the same color to the cups in the next painting section. 

Again, like Swellegant, the Vintaj sealer as a final coat is a must.


Coloring the grooves of the letter charms was easy with three of the products. The fine tip marker pens, Swellegant metal coating and Vintaj Patina can be applied carefully. Any spillover onto the top of the charms should be wiped away immediately.


The TierraCast antiqued silver scallop shell components shown below are actually delicate buttons. I converted them into all in one shank button earrings.  See my wire work tutorial here for the instructions. 

I applied Swellegant brass coating only on the low portions of the shell buttons. These were sealed before I added the wiring for making the ear wire and connecting the buttons. The result is a unique rustic look without too much effort! 

I just added a touch of Swellegant Brass on the bees for these pair of earrings using TierraCast small bee charms and the matching honeycomb links

These TierraCast monstera leaf components are small buttons. I only covered half of the charms with Vintaj Patina in moss green

I converted the buttons into easy charms by adding jump rings to the shanks at the back. Note that if you did only that, the buttons will flop forwards. So I used Hypo Cement glue with its precision tip, to carefully glue the jump rings to the back of the buttons.

I also liked TierraCast's smaller charms for stud earrings.

I'm slowing reviving my long dormant Youtube channel.  So please LIKE the short introductory video I made on painting metal to encourage me to do more!

I haven't yet decided what to do with the rest of the components and charms I colored but adding just a little color does make them look different. These were spruced up with Vintaj Patinas. 

Aims is the Canadian jewelry designer behind Big Blue Barn Designs.  I am a novice at metal painting so she graciously sent me photos of her beautiful work using Vintaj Patinas on her often copper etched metallic designs.  These include decorating her silver plated heart charms. Aims said the painting effectively covered up areas where the silver plating had come off! Thanks for the inspirations!

Where this metalsmith really excels is her copper earrings and cuffs. She uses a combination of metal etching techniques and Vintaj Patinas to create her striking designs!  Such wonderful inspirations!

Before You Go:
I used  my iPhone 8+ for final product photography in natural light. I used  the Orangemonkie studio which comes equipped with LED lights - for artificial light photography in my windowless basement studio. The Foldio2 Plus is excellent . I use the Foldio3 because I need the room for tutorial photography. My online class Easy Guide to Smartphone Jewelry Photography is now available. Read more about it here.  

 This blog may contain affiliate links. I do receive a small fee for any products purchased through affiliate links. This goes towards the support of this blog and to provide resource information to readers. The opinions expressed are solely my own. They would be the same whether or not I receive any compensation. 
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM