Hand-Colored Photo Jewelry (Tutorial)

by Rena Klingenberg.
Hand-Colored Photo Jewelry - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

This tutorial involves playing with images, then coloring them by hand for an old-fashioned look, and turning them into jewelry.

Hand-Colored Photo Jewelry - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

This is a fun project for people of all ages, and it makes wonderful gifts!

Hand-Colored Photo Jewelry - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg


  • A photo – it can be either a digital image that’s on your camera or computer, or a printed photo.
    Important: The photo should have some white or very light-colored areas that you can color.
  • A simple photo editing program – to crop and size your image.
    I used the “Preview” program on my Mac computer.
    If your computer doesn’t have a photo editor, do an internet search for “free photo editor online” for a list of easy photo editing programs you can use online.
  • A sheet of regular plain white paper – for printing your photo onto.
  • A computer printer – for printing the photo onto paper.
  • Scissors or paper cutter – for trimming your printed photo.
  • Colored pencils – for coloring your photo.
  • Photo jewelry pendant frame.
    Mine are Ranger Inkssentials Memory Frames.
    I used a 1″x3″ photo frame for the rectangular pendant.
    I used a 1″x1″ photo frame for the square pendant.
  • Glass that’s made to fit in your photo jewelry pendant frame.
    Mine are Ranger Inkssentials Memory Glass.
  • Chain or cord – for wearing your jewelry photo pendant.

Using a Photo
That’s NOT a Digital Image?

If your photo isn’t already on your computer, take a picture of the photo with your camera or a scanner, and download the image to your computer.

I have an ancient, yellowing photograph of me as a baby – so I used my camera to take a picture of that photo:

Turning old photograph into digital image for Hand-Colored Photo Jewelry - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Then I downloaded this new digital image of my old baby photo from my camera to my computer.

That enabled me to crop and edit the image on my computer – and then print it at just the right size for this project.

Here’s the new, edited image I made from my old baby photo (before re-sizing it to print):

Digital image made from old photograph for Hand-Colored Photo Jewelry - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

After coloring, resizing, and printing this image (which we’ll do in the tutorial below), I put it in the photo jewelry frame.

Then I added a heart locket and a cord – and I have a lovely gift to give my Mom on Mother’s Day:

Hand-Colored Photo Jewelry - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

It’s been decades since I looked like that – so I have a feeling my Mom will enjoy this photo pendant. 🙂

Now that your regular photo is a digital image, let’s go ahead with the rest of this tutorial:

How to Make
Hand-Colored Photo Jewelry:

First, we’ll have to make our image fit our photo frame.

I’m going to use a 1″x3″ jewelry photo frame pendant.

It has glass on both sides, so I can put 2 images on this pendant – one on each side.

For the first side, I’m going to use this vintage photo of a little girl:
Image for Hand-Colored Photo Jewelry - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

There are a lot of light-colored areas in this photo, so it’s a good one for coloring.

Once you have your image on your computer, use your photo editing program to:

  1. Crop the image.

    If your photo frame is square, crop your image to a square.

    If your photo frame is a rectangle, crop your image to the rectangle’s proportions; my frame is 1″x3″, so I’m cropping my image to a rectangle that’s 1 unit wide by 3 units high.

  2. Make your image black and white.

    (You’ll get the best results with your colored pencils if your image is only black, white, and gray tones; no other colors or sepia tones.)

    In your photo editor, this tool is usually called “desaturate”.

    Or your editor may have a slider arrow for the color saturation level – which you should slide to the minimum amount of saturation.

  3. Adjust brightness and contrast.

    If your image seems too dark or too light, use the “brightness” and “contrast” (or “light and dark”) tools to adjust your image.

  4. Re-size the image for printing.

    In your photo editor, use the “image size” tool to choose:

    • 300 dpi (or 300 pixels per inch) resolution
    • the width of your photo frame in inches (for my frame it’s 1 inch)
    • the height of your photo frame in inches (for my frame it’s 3 inches).

Now my image of the old-fashioned little girl looks like this:

Cropped, edited image for Hand-Colored Photo Jewelry - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now use your computer printer to print the image onto a regular sheet of white paper.

(If your printer prints out a full page image instead of your intended small size, you may need to un-check your printer’s option for “scale to fit” – and instead, enter “100%” in the “scale” field.)

When your image is printed, cut it out with scissors or a paper cutter.

Now for some fun – it’s time to color the image!

Use your colored pencils to fill in some of the white or light areas in the image:

Coloring the paper image with colored pencils, for Hand-Colored Photo Jewelry - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Here are the pencils I used to color the girl’s dress, skin, and hair:

The colors I used her for the Hand-Colored Photo Jewelry - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now it’s time to prepare the image that will go on the other side of the photo pendant.

I’m using a vintage photo of an interesting-looking lady:
Digital image of vintage photo for Hand-Colored Photo Jewelry - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Once you have your second image on your computer, crop and edit it as you did with the first image.

I used my photo editing program to crop out all of that fascinating background, leaving just a 1″x3″ area of the photo that shows the lady from the waist up:

Cropped, edited image for Hand-Colored Photo Jewelry - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now print this image on plain white paper and cut it out with scissors.

Then give it some color with your colored pencils:

The colored pencils I used to color this image for Hand-Colored Photo Jewelry - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now it’s time to put these two colored photos in the frame, back to back, so there’s a picture on each side of the pendant.

Open the latch on the side of the pendant photo frame:

Open the photo jewelry frame - Hand-Colored Photo Jewelry - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now place one of the clear glass pieces in the frame:

Put the glass in the frame - Hand-Colored Photo Jewelry - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Place one of your colored photos face down on top of the glass:

Put image face down on the glass - Hand-Colored Photo Jewelry - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now lay your other colored photo face up on top of the first photo, and place the second glass over the top of this second photo:

Place second image back to back with first image - Hand-Colored Photo Jewelry - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Now your two colored photos should be back-to-back, sandwiched between the two pieces of glass.

Put the metal frame back together, and latch it shut with the built-in latch tab:

Place glass on top of image and close the frame - Hand-Colored Photo Jewelry - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Add a jump ring and chain or cord to the top of your pendant – and it’s ready to wear:

Add a chain to your pendant - Hand-Colored Photo Jewelry - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

The other side of the pendant looks like this:

Hand-Colored Photo Jewelry - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

This would be a great way to make family history jewelry, using digital images of old family photos.

Hand-Colored Photo Jewelry - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Or to give your mom or grandma a necklace with a photo from your childhood:

Hand-Colored Photo Jewelry - tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

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  • Rena, thanks for the photo charm tutorial. I have been making glass-tile photo jewelry for almost 2 years. I have never seen frames like you used, but I will search for this product online now that you’ve mentioned it. I want to experiment with printing on regular paper and adding soft pencil colors. Yours turned out beautiful. Thank you for sharing your expertise!

    I’ve always made mine by using the free photo editing software, Picasa, and inserting the photo files into MS Word shapes. Then, I have Kinkos print them on 80 lb. glossy cardstock on a color laser printer. I adhere the image to a glass tile of the same shape with Judikins Diamond Glaze. I finish the photo charm by adhering pretty coordinating scrapbook paper to the back side and attach a pendant bail with E6000 glue. The other option I’ve used is to attach the tiled image with E6000 glue to a pendant tray. This process makes a very sturdy pendant. However, if backed with scrapbook paper and glazed to finish, the photo charm is not waterproof. If water gets to the image, it will slide off the glass tile.

  • Bev Carlson says:

    Great tutorial. I, too, use Picasa for my photo editing. I have some others too but they have a very steep learning curve and I find Picasa has enough easy results. Picmonkey will resize and both are free. I like the frames you suggested and will check them out.

  • Darlene says:

    Rena, very cool idea and a great tutorial, too. I have been using just the tray pendants for my handmade lace pieces but these frames with glass are an interesting idea. I read your newsletter without fail and always look forward to your new ideas. Thanks.

  • Holly says:

    Can this be adapted for use with resin?

  • Ruth says:

    This would also make great Christmas tree ornaments!

  • nidhi says:

    where can I get these frames??

  • Google “memory frames for necklaces”.

  • Thank you for the lovely comments on this project! 🙂

    Sheila, I hadn’t thought about using the glass tile method to turn photos like these into pendants. I can see the possible problem you mentioned with them, though. And what a brilliant idea to insert the photo files into MS Word shapes!

    Thank you, Darlene, that’s lovely to hear! The tray pendants are a good option – but I do like having the two-sided pendant with glass on both sides.

    Holly, good idea, I’m sure this could be adapted to use with resin. I haven’t done that with my printed, hand-colored photos, though. The main thing I would recommend is to do a practice one first – using a photo you’ve printed and colored, and that you wouldn’t mind messing up as your “guinea pig”. Then you’ll know if you need to make any adjustments for the final pendant.

    Ruth, lovely idea to turn these into Christmas ornaments! That opens up a much broader group of people to gift them to! And how fun to have your loved ones (or photos of them as babies) hanging on the tree.

    Nidhi, I got these frames at my local craft store. If you don’t have a local store that carries them, do an online search for them. You’ll find a ton of places you can order them from.

    (Edited to add: Thank you, Sheila, you beat me to it! And thanks for adding a good search phrase for it!) 🙂

  • This is a great post and tutorial! Thanks so much for sharing… I’m going to pin this and pass it on as an idea for Mother’s Day too 🙂

  • JaneEllen says:

    Thank you so very much for the outstanding tutorial. I might actually be able to follow your excellent directions so I could do this. I’m quite digitally challenged. No idea how to do too many things on computer that holds me back from many projects. I’m saving this so I can print it out when I get new ink cartridges. Looks like you went to so much trouble to put all this in your tutorial. I know I sure appreciate it and imagine others will also, please tell me there might be at least one other person that isn’t computer savy like so many bloggers, especially yourself. Exceptional post. Happy week

  • Dawn says:

    This is wonderful! I never would have thought of it.

  • Love these photo necklaces and your tute is awesome as always. Only thing, that old woman is kind of scary looking…..just saying 🙂 I love the Christmas gift idea too – so going to use that!!

  • Lorraine says:

    Oh, I LOVE this! And, your tutorial is so clear and easy to follow. Looking forward to perusing your great blog 🙂

    Kindly, Lorraine

  • Deb says:

    What a great idea and very clear tutorial! I would like to try this sometime! 🙂

  • Dee says:

    Such a great tutorial, and this would make a great gift for any occasion. I love how they turned out! 🙂

  • Sharon says:

    What a great tutorial! These are really cute!

  • Rachel says:

    Ink, ink and more ink. It has become so expensive to print in color on my printer, and these days, the cartridges hold very little ink for the price you pay. How do you figure that cost into your Jewelry price.
    Also, what tips can you offer to get a photograph quality picture, rather than the horrible almost pixilated mess that my HP 7520 All-in-one photosmart, (ha!), produces, especially on plan paper. I keep changing the settings and wasting more ink. I finally sucked it up and bought an Epson
    I brought my parent’s wallet size 50th anniversary picture to test the printers. This printer was the best, but still not what I was hoping for on non-photo paper. The only way to get a somewhat descent picture was to use this $14 paper that is very sensitive and has lots of directions for use and storage. It is called Epson, Premium Presentation Paper Matte.s. Is Kinko’s the answer? Do you somehow set up a page of small pictures, so the costs is for only one print.
    Lastly, I want to be able to print from my iphone, but it always sends it to the photo tray and doesn’t low for any setting adjustments. Is there an app that someone has found that lets you change all of your settings on your printer for that photo?

  • Joy says:

    First of all very nice tutorial!
    I make antiquesque portrait miniatures using oval or round settings, glass cabochons and printed photos. Recently I saw a miniature portrait with long octagonal frame and became obsessed. However there is nowhere to buy similar miniature frames like that, so I started thinking about making one myself.
    When I first saw this tutorial I thought the frames were custom made and that you were going to explain how to make one… Unfortunately I see that they are retail items. But seeing the structure of them does give me an idea. I think with some practice I may be able to make octagonal frames using strips of copper sheet. Hmmmmm……
    (If I weren’t busy being an investment analyst during weekdays I would surely be making jewellery full time! I especially want to learn historical techniques.)
    Also, love that article about getting jewellery inspiration from paintings! I do that too!

  • Hi Joy, thanks for your lovely comment! I’d love to see your octagonal frame jewelry when you’ve figured out how to create the octagon – it’s a great idea, and I love that it’s based on a historical jewelry inspiration!

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