Getting Into The Rhinestone Business


The Rhinestone Business

Look in almost any closet in America and you will find apparel decorated with Rhinestones, Rhinestuds or Nailheads. From high fashion camisoles to “Football Mom” t-shirts, the market for bling has never been better.

Many of the designs you see in retail stores were done in a cut and sew shop, where the rhinestones may have been applied before the garment is assembled, but the majority of rhinestone wear you run into was likely created using a rhinestone transfer. This is especially true if you saw that rhinestone t-shirt or bag in a local store, ordered it from online or saw it in the crowd attending a high school sporting event.

Rhinestone transfers are usually made by automatic rhinestone machines, like the CAMS product from ColDesi. The transfers themselves are created using transfer tape, Hotfix rhinestones, the automatic rhinestone machine, and specialty graphics software made specifically to create rhinestone designs.

Here’s a basic version of how the rhinestone transfer process works:

YOUR DESIGN IDEA – it doesn’t have to be completely original, you can start with vector art logos, animal designs, etc. that you find online or that a client gives you. However you start, it’s best to have an idea of what you want the completed design to look like before you start.

CREATE YOUR DESIGN IN RHINESTONE SOFTWARE – you’ll work faster and end up with better looking results by using a dedicated rhinestone software to turn your idea into a rhinestone design. ColDesi uses Hotfix Era for Rhinestones, an inexpensive but incredibly powerful design application made for rhinestone designs and the CAMS machine. For more information and to see videos of this software in action, visit the Hotfix Era page here.
SEND TO AUTOMATIC RHINESTONE MACHINE – the CAMS machine uses a USB drive and your computer to send the design, much like you would an image to a printer. The number of colors and sizes of rhinestones you can easily use depends on which CAMS machine you purchased. The 1V-2P for example, can use 2 sizes and/or 2 colors at once, while the 1V-6P can use SIX! The machine actually lays individual rhinestones down on a piece of transfer paper in the shape of the design you specified, and will do it at 150+ stones per minute!
MAKE YOUR GARMENT – the last step is either to send your transfer to a customer if you’re doing wholesale or heat press it onto a garment if you’re selling it directly.

The process is the same whether you’re making a t-shirt, putting designs on a cotton dress or making a rhinestone decal. There’s a more detailed return on investment calculation here, but most rhinestone t-shirts cost between $4 and $8 to make and sell for $20-$35!

There are many factors to consider when you’re starting a rhinestone business in addition to the hardware you choose – leasing vs. buying, how to market your products, pricing your designs, etc. and you can find information on all those topics at

Want to know more?

Call toll-free 877-793-3278 or fill out the form and a representative will contact you.

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