Metallic Polymer Clay – A brand comparison

With the launch of the new Cernit Metallic colors (see the review here), there’s been a renewed interest in metallic polymer clay colors themselves. What are they, what can you do with them, and which are the best brands of metallic polymer clay? I bought all the metallic colors that are currently offered by the main polymer clay manufacturers and put them through their paces. Here’s what I found out.

What is Metallic Polymer Clay?

Metallic polymer clay doesn’t have metal in it. Instead, mica powder provides the metallic color. Yes, they use the same wonderfully shimmery powder that makes up Pearl Ex and eyeshadow. Instead of colored pigments, mica powder colors the metallic polymer clay. Metal-colored mica powders make metallic colors, and “pretty” colored mica powders make pearl colors. For a metallic (or pearl) color to have the best sparkle, the base clay needs to be quite translucent. Otherwise, the opaque color pigment would cover up the sparkle of the mica. While it’s possible to create a metallic or pearl color entirely with mica powder as the colorant, some colors in some brands do also contain pigments to create a color beyond that of the mica.

(An aside here…pigments are used to make regularly colored polymer clay, like red or blue. Mica is used to create pearl and metallic colors. Mica and pigment powders are not the same thing. More about that here.)

These mica shift examples were created with translucent Premo and powders. On the left is real metal powder (brass colored copper) and on the right is Pearl Ex Sunset Gold.
These mica shift examples were made with translucent Premo mixed with powders. On the left is real metal powder (brass colored copper) from Harryman Designs and on the right is Pearl Ex Sunset Gold. (Curious about what else you can do with powders? You need my Powders Guide!)
Mica shift effect created with translucent Premo and Pearl Ex pigments.
I made these mica shift examples with translucent Premo mixed with Pearl Ex powder. On the left is Emerald and on the right is Duo Green Purple.

Metallic Clay is not Glitter Clay

While metallic polymer clay can have quite a bit of sparkle, it is not the same thing as glitter clay. Glitter is made from bits of plastic that are punched from a sheet of polyester film. Glitter is — well — glittery! It has an entirely different character than metallic clay.

Premo metallic polymer clay over the top of Premo white gold glitter clay.
Here is a close-up of three circles cut from Premo metallic colors sitting on a sheet of Premo Yellow Gold Glitter. Note how the glitter color contains two different colors and sizes of glitter are very different from metallic clay.

Brands of Metallic Polymer Clay

Most brands of polymer clay have metallic colors in their line. One notable exception to this is Souffle by Sculpey. Souffle has an opaque base which would make metallic (and translucent) colors impossible. Likewise, Fimo Professional doesn’t have metallic polymer clay colors, but they do have metallics in their Fimo Effect line. CosClay and Papa’s Clay also do not have metallic colors in their line due to having an opaque base.

The working characteristics of each brand of metallic polymer clay correspond more to the brand than they do to the color. So all Premo behaves similarly rather than all gold colors. I would expect that. But I was surprised at how much the colors of one brand differ from another. I’ll go through each brand below. In each photo, I compared a plain baked circle with a raw disk on top, against a baked (and unsanded) mica shift disk. (What is mica shift? Learn about it here.)

Premo Accents

Made by Sculpey and packaged just the same as any other color of Premo, the Premo Accents line contains all the glitter, metallic, pearl, and translucent versions of their Premo line. The metallic colors behave just like the rest of the Premo colors. (Which means they’re mostly soft, but sometimes I get a hard batch.) Premo metallic is brilliantly metallic, with a dense saturation of mica, creating a brightly metallic appearance.

It’s my guess that the Premo colors contain two sizes of mica in each color. I say this because the appearance of the clay itself is quite sparkly and twinkly (suggesting large flakes), but when you do a mica shift, a pearlescent swirl effect emerges that makes the designs look shimmery. I don’t think you can see it in the photos, but the antique gold and rose gold colors show it off more than the others. This glittery effect can make the Premo colors a bit garish for more subtle metallic effects.

Premo metallic polymer clay color range.
Here are the colors currently carried in the Premo Accents line of metallic polymer clay. See below for a list of color names.

Premo’s metallic colors are:

  • 5519 Bronze
  • 5067 Copper
  • 5129 Silver
  • 5517 Antique Gold
  • 5055 18K Gold
  • 5303 Gold

Sculpey III

These colors were soft, easily handled, and baked with a matte finish like the rest of Sculpey III’s line. I was surprised to find no bronze or copper in the lineup. Like the Premo colors, there appears to be a coarse flake sparkly mica in these colors as well as a more fine flake that makes up the bulk of the color. There’s a distinct color shift between raw and cured for both the gold tones.

Sculpey III’s metallic colors appear a bit like glittery chalk, rather than metal, and the chalky nature makes for a dull mica-shift effect. If you’re going for intense shimmer, this isn’t your brand. I would use these colors mixed in with other colors to add a subtle shimmer to them.

Sculpey III metallic polymer clay.
Sculpey III has a line of metallic polymer clay colors, too. See below for the names.
  • 1130 Silver
  • 380 Buried Treasure
  • 1132 Jewelry Gold
  • 1086 Gold

Fimo Effect Metallic Colors

I had a lot of trouble finding out which colors that Fimo carries in its metallic line. Some of the colors are obviously pearl colored, and others say they’re metallic and aren’t. I bought everything I could afford and tried to make sense of it.

Fimo Effect is the line that carries the glitter, metallic, and pearl lines of Fimo. I’m not sure if the base clay is Fimo Soft (it’s not soft) or if it’s Fimo Professional. It doesn’t behave like either. The consistency of the clay is both stiff and sticky, and of all the brands I tried, this one stuck to my hands the worst. Fimo’s metallic colors didn’t look very bright in the package, but they turned out to have a beautiful metallic shimmer after baking. Their mica shift was quite good, too. The pearl colors weren’t all shimmery, and the Pearl Lilac was downright dull. I get the feeling there are some discontinued colors and not-yet-available colors on various websites.

Fimo effect metallic polymer clay colors.
Here are the Fimo Effect metallic colors that I could find to purchase. See below for color listing.

Fimo Effect’s metallic colors are:

  • 207 Pearl Rose Gold
  • 08 Metallic Mother of Pearl
  • 27 Metallic Copper
  • 81 Metallic Silver
  • 11 Metallic Gold

Kato Polyclay

Kato Polyclay was developed with the philosophy that artists need strong, simple colors to mix their palettes. So the metallic colors here are very basic, with only copper, silver, and gold. You can create other colors by combining. For example, mix a touch of black with gold, and you have antique gold. Add Kato’s pearl color to the copper to get a rose gold color.

Kato is quite a stiff clay that can be hard to work with, and the metallics are no different. I found them to be very typically “Kato-like.” There isn’t a bright glitter effect with the Kato metallics. Instead, there’s a strong light/dark differential from the face of the mica to the side which means that it gives incredible mica shift images with a uniformly metal color. The baked finish of Kato is slightly shiny. The stiff nature of this clay means it provides very clear mica shift illusions. You can learn more about mica shift here.

Kato Polyclay metallic polymer clay.
Kato Polyclay only has three metallic colors, copper, silver, and gold.

Cernit Metallic

As mentioned in the above section, Cernit has a new line of metallic polymer clay called, appropriately enough, Cernit Metallic. I wrote a full review of Cernit Metallic in a separate article here. Cernit Metallic has 14 21 colors in its line, but here I’ve pictured the ones that are the most “metal-colored” for comparison. Cernit Metallic is brilliantly colored metallic polymer clay with intense saturation of mica without being glittery. It’s done beautifully in every test I gave it. But I’ll report on that in a separate article.

Cernit metallic polymer clay.
Here are the most “metal-colored” of the new Cernit Metallic colors. See below for colors.

Of the 14 colors of Cernit Metallic polymer clay, here are the six pictured above:

  • 80 Silver
  • 58 Bronze
  • 55 Antique Gold
  • 53 Rich Gold
  • 50 Gold
  • 59 Bronze

Pardo Mica Clay and Metallic

Pardo has two lines with metallic clay. Their Professional mica line is called Pardo Mica Clay with five colors. And then there are 8 metallic colors in the regular Jewellery Clay line. The five colors in the Mica Clay line match five of the colors in the Jewellery Clay line, plus there are three more. The only difference between the two lines is firmness. The Professional Mica Clay line is more firm. Learn more about Pardo in my overview here.

The metallic effect in both lines is identical. The Pardo Metallic colors aren’t terribly striking. They’re not particularly sparkly or shimmery. They give an adequate mica shift effect, but nothing outstanding. As you can see below, there isn’t much color shift during baking. They’re perfectly suitable for most average uses of metallic clays, and they’re a good asset to the brand. But if you’re needing a super shimmery or sparkly metallic effect, you’ll be happier with Cernit Metallic.

Pardo professional mica clay colors
Here are the five metallic clay colors of Pardo Professional Mica Clay. See below for color names.

Here are the five colors of Pardo Mica Clay shown above:

  • Platinum
  • Silver
  • Gold
  • Bronze
  • Copper
pardo jewellery clay in metallic colors
Pardo Jewellery Clay has eight metallic colors in their line. The colors are listed below.

The metallic colors of Pardo Jewellery Clay shown above are:

  • Platinum
  • Mother of Pearl
  • Silver
  • Gray Jasper
  • Old Gold
  • Gold
  • Bronze
  • Copper

The five colors of the Professional Mica Clay line are also in the Jewellery Clay line, and they are identical as you can see here. The “white” or pearl color actually has a quite nice mica shift, but you can’t really see it in these pictures. However, I do need to point out there’s an anomaly in the white/pearl. Both lines have a “Platinum”. But in the Jewellery Clay line, the platinum is darker as you can see in the photo below. But what’s odd is that there IS another color, labelled “Mother of Pearl”, that’s identical to the Mica Clay line’s Platinum. I don’t think I got the samples messed up, but it’s always possible. Does anyone else notice this?

Top row is Pardo Professional Mica Clay. Bottom row is the corresponding colors in the Pardo Jewellery Clay line. As you can see, there is no difference.

Which Brand is the Best Metallic?

Choosing the best of anything is always hard because it depends very much on personal opinion and what you need for it to do. The usual differences between these clay brands hold true when it comes to handling. Premo acts like Premo. Kato behaves like Kato. So preferences will likely fall along those lines. But these clays don’t look the same at all. It’s quite hard to photograph mica successfully (long story), so I was not able to capture some of the visible differences between colors that are easily seen with the eye.

In general, Cernit Metallic is the most brilliantly and densely saturated in both color and mica. But Premo comes behind it in a close second. Premo and Cernit Metallic compare quite favorably in colors that are similar. Premo also has the best glittery sparkle. Kato has the most dramatic mica shift if you’re going for a crisp image. But Cernit gives the best effect for outright shimmery splendor. See more pictures of Cernit Metallic here.

Comparing in Mokume Gane

I picked four brands with colors that were roughly similar and made (nearly) identical mokume gane stacks. It’s never possible to make them identically, of course. But I tried. Then I cured them on light bulbs to get a dome shape. Then I sanded and buffed to bring up a brilliant shine.

Brand comparison of metallic polymer clay.
The domes along the bottom were made with the colors of clay you see above them. I did this to show how each brand looks with the mokume gane technique. The brands included are (L-R) Cernit Metallic, Kato Polyclay, Fimo Effect, and Premo Accents.

Notice how Cernit has the most brilliant sparkly metallic effect. Kato seems almost flat by comparison. Fimo and Premo, however, both have richly complex light and dark pearlescent shimmery areas.

Handling Metallic Polymer Clay

For the most part, you treat metallic polymer clay just like any other polymer clay. The metallic colors can sometimes be too stiff, but I’ve also had them too soft. I think it’s the age or the batch of the bar that determines that. You do need condition it so that the mica lines are hidden when you need a smooth-appearing face.

The dull side of mica in metallic polymer clay can cause streaks in your work.
The dull side of mica in metallic polymer clay can cause streaks in your work. Keep conditioning until these lines are all moved to the back if you need a smooth sheet.

Because of the metallic sparkles, metallic clay will get onto your hands and your pasta machine, and you should clean them so you don’t transfer the sparkles to other colors you work with. You’ve heard the joke that glitter is the herpes of the craft world, well, mica is worse. It’s like the common cold. It’s everywhere.

Metallic polymer clay doesn’t contain metal, so you don’t have to worry about it tarnishing or corroding. But you will need to change (or sharpen) your tissue blade often if you do a lot of slicing. Cutting through the mica will dull your blade.

Does it Look Like Metal?

No. I’m just gonna say it. Metallic polymer clay doesn’t look like metal. You can use it to create the impression of metal. We all knew, as children, that you were supposed to use the gold crayon to color the crown in your coloring book, even though it didn’t look like a gold crown, right? Metallic polymer clay is the same way. If you make a treasure chest, you can fill it with little circles of gold metallic polymer and everyone will know it’s supposed to be gold coins. But if you want to go for a realistic metal effect, you’ll have to take another strategy.

Gold and Silver

Pay attention to the color of your gold or silver clay. No gold ring is this orange, and some of those silvers look like my stainless steel fridge.

Gold metallic polymer clay doesn't really look like gold metal.
Here are all the gold clays from above and a pile of old gold jewelry. No, it’s not really a very good match. And keep in mind that gold is reflecting the color of the polymer!
Silver metallic polymer clay doesn't really look like silver.
Here are my silver rings on a pile of silver metallic clay. No, these don’t look like silver, either.

To make a good metal effect, you’ll have to create the illusion of metal, and that will require surface treatments. Polymer clay isn’t shiny enough to look like real gold or silver, but you can apply a bright treatment on the surface that gives a better metallic effect. Check out my article on 9 Ways to Create a Metal Effect.

Even coating some clay with metal powder gives a more convincing metal effect than pure metallic polymer clay. Here are some examples.

Metallic polymer clay isn't as shiny as metal coated polymer clay.
The top is Cernit Rich Gold, and the bottom two are (L) metal powder in Bold Brass and (R) Solar Gold Pearl Ex, both over black Premo.

Note how the Pearl-Ex covered Premo is similar to the Cernit Metallic, and the real metal powder looks much more like metal.

To get an excellent metallic effect, try antiquing metallic polymer clay with acrylic paint to give it dimension. If you need to make a distressed, rusty, or aged effect, you can’t go wrong with Christi Friesen’s Swellegant patina paints and stains.

Using Metallic Polymer Clay

As stated earlier, metallic polymer clay can be used to make metal-colored items. But that’s not the best way to use this great type of polymer. Where metallic clay really shines (!!) is when it’s layered in mokume gane, included in millefiori canes, or used to create a mica shift. And the best way to show off these techniques is to make the super shiny. A shiny surface will intensify and brighten the mica particles, making them look otherworldly.

These three mokume gane covered domes are identical, made from the same sheet of clay. The one on the left is smoothed and baked. The center one is sanded and left plain. The one on the right is sanded (identically to #2) and then buffed. As you can see, the buffing brings out the shine! Isn’t that amazing? It only took a few minutes to sand those pieces and buff the one on the right, maybe 10 minutes total.

Plain, sanded, and buffed metallic polymer clay.
All three domes were made from the same sheet and cured on a Sculpey Hollow Bead Maker. The left is after baking, the middle is sanded only, and the right is sanded and buffed.

And if you’re not getting results like that when you sand and buff, you need my Sanding and Buffing eBook. Seriously. Just do it. Your metallic polymer clay (and your fingertips) will thank you. Sand better, not harder.

Sand better, not harder

Everyone loves a perfectly smooth, glassy finish, but it seems to be elusive. Does your polymer clay look scratched and rough after sanding? This course will change everything.


Sculpey provided a Sculpey Hollow Beadmaker, Harryman Designs provided metal powder, and Blueberry Beads provided Pardo metallic and Mica Clay bars. As always, my opinions come from my own experience, and I do like to give credit where it’s due.

6 thoughts on “Metallic Polymer Clay – A brand comparison”

  1. Mackenzie LeBlanc

    You mentioned eyeshadow, and I was curious what your thoughts are on adding eyeshadow to clay jewelry?

    Thank you!

  2. Pingback: Enthousiasme général pour les nouvelles pâtes polymères Cernit Metallic – Creacodile

  3. Pingback: Iedereen loopt warm voor de nieuwe Cernit Metallic klei – Creacodile

  4. I just want to thank you for your great information. I appreciate all of it!!! I still need to read some of your articles but I’ve been out of touch over the holidays. Thanks again Ginger.

  5. Do you know how much I treasure you? This is my first weekend back in the studio, getting reorganized, trying to get Christmas up after the fire. Then, here comes the Muse. And your wonderful scientific analyses of products! You are indeed the Alton Brown of clay!
    After the fire, I went into survival mode. I would look at your articles and think, “Life goes on. I’ll read this later.” Now, back in our home after a month of uncertainty, the passion has returned. Thanks for being a constant beacon, Ginger.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family!

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