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Gloria-Jean Browne : The Art of Creative Jewelry Design

The Art of Creative Jewelry Design

By Gloria-Jean Browne

Most of us start out making jewelry by following instructions, which is a safe place to begin and to learn new jewelry making and beading techniques. The next step is to learn the art of creative jewelry design.

If you have a love for making jewelry and plan to make a living at it, then you HAVE to design jewelry pieces that are distinctive, that are different from everybody else's. Customers not only want a quality product, but they also want their jewelry to be unique and original. They want it to stand out and be noticed!

You must be aware that there are many competitors in the jewelry making industry. Adorning the body has been around since the beginning of time and I am sure anyone you talk to owns some sort of jewelry piece. Just about every gift shop, clothing boutique, specialty shop and every department store sells jewelry. And of course there are stores that sell only jewelry. The Internet is loaded with jewelry sites, and because customers tend to buy a lot of jewelry, it's the top-selling category at every craft show, which is why you see so many jewelry booths.

Design Fundamentals

Why do some pieces of jewelry draw your attention, and others do not? Knowing the fundamentals of design will help to provide a guideline in understanding how the composition of a piece of jewelry affects our appreciation for it.

Learning design theory including the elements and principles of design can be more challenging than learning how to crimp a bead or attach a clasp. You need to understand the materials you use and how they work on the wearer, color, texture, balance, and the creative process before you can successfully design great jewelry.

The elements of design are the building blocks of design. These elements are what make up every piece of jewelry you create. By understanding and using the elements of basic composition, you'll be able to design more powerful jewelry pieces. With this knowledge you can purposefully alter your original inspiration, or starting point, into a totally new creation. You may choose to emphasize one element over another. The elements of design include line, shape, space, texture, color and value.

The principles of design are used to organize individual elements into a workable, aesthetic design concept. They suggest effective, pleasing and interesting ways to arrange beads and components in a piece. They include balance, emphasis, rhythm, movement, contrast, harmony, variety and unity.

Color is the most expressive element of design and can be an extremely powerful tool to create mood and emotion. You should learn how to use a color wheel to create stunning combinations. The color wheel helps you define color schemes such as: analogous, complementary, contrast, monochromatic, split complement, triadic, as well as understanding the difference between warm and cool colors.

Colors are more than a combination of red and blue or yellow and black. They are non-verbal communication. Colors have symbolism and color meanings that go beyond just the color of the bead. As you design jewelry pieces, it is helpful to keep in mind how the eye and the mind perceive certain colors and the color meanings we associate with each color.

Understanding color and design fundamentals will give you the language to analyze what happens when you create. It helps to know what to change to make your work satisfying and complete. What to add so your piece is not boring or what to take away if your design is too busy or just doesn't look right.

Think of jewelry design as a visual language: Beads and components are the vocabulary and design principles are the rules of grammar. Once you have a firm grasp on these fundamentals, using them becomes second nature, just like writing and speaking.

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