How to Use the 20 Questions to Ask Yourself When You’re Designing Jewelry

How to use the 20 questions

A few years ago I wrote a blogpost with 20 questions to ask yourself when you’re designing jewelry.

That post is super helpful when you’re making jewelry design decisions, whether you’re making jewelry for yourself, a gift or to sell.

If you’re making jewelry for someone else it’s especially important to think about the person wearing the final jewelry piece.  When you’re making jewelry for yourself a lot of these questions you’ll already instinctively know the answer to for the questions.

Today I wanted to go through the questions one-by-one and explain a little more about each one and how to incorporate it a little more into your design process.

1.  Are you making earrings, a bracelet, a necklace, a ring, or some other piece of jewelry?

This is a great place to start because most of us jewelry designers make jewelry because we love making jewelry, so we mostly want to make what we feel like making.

Perhaps you have a special request for a necklace or ring from a friend or customer or you just simply need a piece of jewelry to complete a certain outfit.

2.  Who are you designing it for?

  • Yourself?
  • On-the-go mom?
  • Business woman?
  • Teenager?
  • Bride?

If you don’t know who the actual jewelry piece is for, it’s difficult to design it.  Even if you’re making a piece of jewelry to sell and you don’t specifically know the final recipient of the jewelry piece, you need to know who your ideal customer is and a little bit about her and her life.

3.  Does she have any metal allergies?

This is important so you know the correct metal to choose for the piece.  If you’re making earrings for your mom and you know that anything but gold or sterling silver irritate her ears, certainly you want to use gold or sterling silver for the earring wires.

(If you’re making jewelry to sell, you want to make sure to state what kind of metal you’re using in all your pieces so that people with metal allergies know.)

4.  Where will she be wearing the piece?

  • Work? (And what is the work setting – office, retail, etc.?)
  • School?
  • Running errands?
  • PTO?
  • Wedding?
  • Out to dinner?
  • A party?

This question goes along with Question #2 about knowing the person you’re designing the piece for.  However, it goes a bit further to ask you wear will she be wearing the jewelry.

If you’re making your best friend a bracelet to wear to work, for example, it’s helpful to consider her job and how much wear and tear the bracelet will get so you know if you should make it more simple and dainty or if you can go big and bulky.

If you’re making the jewelry to sell, it’s good to have an idea of where you think the customer would wear the piece.  She will decide ultimately where she’s wearing the jewelry, of course, but it’s still helpful to consider it when you’re designing it.

5.  What are the needs of that person?  (i.e. the bracelet needs to stay out of the way when she’s typing, etc.)

Consider any special needs of the person when she’s wearing the jewelry piece.  If she has a difficult time getting bracelets on by herself and she lives alone, how can you make it easier for her to put on the bracelet and take it off herself, for example.

6.  What will she be doing while she’s wearing the piece?  (How durable does it need to be?  Is there anything to take into consideration about her activities while wearing the piece?)

Does she have an active lifestyle running from one activity to the next or a more serene lifestyle?  Think about the sturdiness of the piece, as well as anything that may dangle from the piece.

Now we’ll get more into the fun, design aspects of the jewelry.

7.  What will be the focal point of the piece?

Each jewelry piece should have an element that is the main focus of the entire piece.  Decide what that will be for your piece (considering all of the other previous questions.)

8.  Will be be symmetrical or asymmetrical?

Symmetrical is classic but asymmetrical adds more motion and whimsy to your piece.

9.  What colors will you use?

Choose your color scheme.  You may want to choose a favorite color or a birthstone if it’s a gift.

10.  How long will it be?

If it’s a necklace, how long will it be and where do you want it to lay?  If it’s a bracelet, do you have the recipient’s size or can you make it adjustable.  For earrings, will they be long or short?

11.  Will it be big and bold or small and dainty?

It could be bold with colors or bold with large chunky beads or smaller, more subdued beads and findings.

12.  Will it be colorful and vibrant or more subdued?

How bright and colorful do you want your jewelry piece to be, keeping in mind your recipient and where she might be wearing the jewelry.

13. Will it have dangley parts, and will this work with her lifestyle?

Considering the answers to the previous questions, think about any parts that may stick out or dangle and how that will work with her life.

14.  Will you do a wire wrapped piece, or will you use mixed media, adding in other techniques and materials or some other technique?

Think about the different techniques you know and decide how you will create the piece.  Will you mix the techniques to create an interesting, new piece or stick to the basics for a classic look?

15.  What materials will you use?  (i.e. what beads, etc.)

Also do you have the materials on hand already or what do you need to order or shop for?

16.  Will there be several parts that are all connected?  And how will they be connected?  Or will there be more longer pieces to connect?

This is to help you think about what findings you may need and how everything is going to be put together.

17.  What kind of wire will you use?

Think back to the metal allergies question from before.  Do you need to use any particular metal so that the recipient won’t be irritated?  Do you have the wire you need on hand?

18.  How does the recipient want to feel when she’s wearing it?

  • Sassy?
  • Pretty?
  • Free spirited?
  • Peppy?
  • Cheerful?
  • Thoughtful?
  • Quirky?
  • Adventurous?
  • Classy?
  • Elegant?

(or some other feeling…)

How can you convey that feeling in the jewelry you’re making for her?  Think about colors, the size and shape of the beads or stones, what metals and wires you’ll use and what other findings.

19.  Does she have any special needs getting the piece on?  

For example, some women have a difficult time putting on bracelets themselves.  Will she have someone to help her or can you make it easier for her?

Some people have difficulty getting rings over knuckles, so making an adjustable ring would be helpful.

20.  How heavy will the piece be?  

If you’re making earrings for someone else, err on the lighter side.  Necklaces and bracelets can be heavier, but make sure the recipient will be comfortable wearing the piece.

I hope that helps you think out your jewelry designs so you’re making meaningful and thoughtful jewelry, which is what the whole point of handcrafted jewelry is, isn’t it?

For more on Jewelry Design, check out this article on the 7 Basic Principles of Jewelry Design.

Get tons of inspiration for your jewelry designs in Inspired eCourse.

In Inspired eCourse, I give you creativity prompts and art journal prompts to create your own art journal pages and then take you step-by-step through the process of how to get inspiration from your art journal page and map out and sketch jewelry design ideas.

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In the class there is a jewelry project each week.  Students typically create their own jewelry designs and complete them each week, but I provide the jewelry tutorial as inspiration and instruction for perhaps new techniques that you don’t already know or to give you ideas for your own piece.

If you’re new to art journals, Inspired eCourse’s introduction is an introduction to art journaling.  And even if you’re not new, you may learn some fun new ideas and techniques.

After the intro there’s 4 weeks of class with each week having art journal and creativity prompts, creating art journal pages, pulling out inspiration from art journal pages and making jewelry.

Learn more and sign up for inspired eCourse here:  Inspired eCourse.

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The 7 Basic Principles of Jewelry Design

The 7 Basic Principles of Jewelry Design

I rarely hear anyone talk about this and I rarely talk about this myself, but consciously using the 7 basic principles of jewelry design is how you can take your jewelry making to the next level.

How can the 7 basic principles of jewelry design help you?

When you are making a jewelry piece and it just isn’t working.  You feel like something is off, but you can’t put your finger on it.  Most likely the issue is that one (or more) of the 7 basic principles of jewelry design are off.  Knowing these principles can help you get to the bottom of what’s wrong a lot more quickly.

The seven basic principles are:

  • Balance
  • Emphasis
  • Proportion
  • Movement
  • Contrast
  • Unity
  • Harmony

Not every piece will use every principle, but they’re important to think about when you’re designing jewelry pieces.

Let’s dig a little deeper into each principle

#1 Balance

Balance is the distribution of visual weights of materials, colors, textures and space in jewelry design.

There are four types of balance:

  • Symmetrical
  • Asymmetrical
  • Radial balanced (arranged around a central point)
  • Intentionally off-balance (has visual interest and motion)

#2 Emphasis

Emphasis is the focal point of the jewelry design that catches the viewer’s attention. It’s also referred to as dominance.

Ways to bring emphasis to your jewelry designs:

  • Use a different color from the rest of the piece.
  • Use a different size from the rest of the piece.
  • Use a different shape from the rest of the piece.
  • Use a different texture from the rest of the piece.

#3 Proportion

Proportion is the feeling of unity when all the elements of a piece (color, size, amount, etc.) relate well to each other.

Usually you don’t actually notice proportion unless something is out of proportion.  All the elements of your jewelry piece should be in proportion to each other.  You should also think about the jewelry piece being in proportion to the person wearing it.

#4 Movement

Movement is the path our eyes follow when looking at a piece of jewelry. Emphasis and contrast will create movement in your jewelry piece.

Movement is commonly achieved through:

  • Repetition
  • Rhythm
  • Action

#5 Contrast

Contrast is created by using components that conflict with one another, such as dark and light values.

#6  Unity

Unity is when the elements in a jewelry design work together.

Unity can be created by:

  • Proximity
  • Grouping like things together
  • Repeating color or texture

#7 Harmony

Harmony is how the different components in a jewelry design relate to and compliment each other.

I think often these design principles are innately in us quite often. You probably design jewelry pieces all the time successfully without even really thinking about them. However, when you’re struggling with a piece that just doesn’t seem to be working out, it is mostly likely because one of the 7 basic design principles is out of whack.

If you are struggling with a piece and can’t figure out why it’s not working, look at your piece and consider each of the 7 design principles.  Then you can work on fixing the issue with a better understanding of why it’s not working.

Do you feel like you need more creativity to get more ideas to create your own jewelry designs?  Then my Rediscover Your Creativity & Make Jewelry eCourse is here to help!

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I’m now taking registrations for my eCourse, Rediscover Your Creativity & Make Jewelry!

It’s a 6 week eCourse that includes creativity boosters, jewelry making skills and jewelry projects all designed to help you rediscover or boost your creativity.

Rediscover Your Creativity & Make Jewelry eCourse starts on June 6th.

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20 Questions to Ask Yourself When Designing Jewelry

20 Questions to Ask Yourself when You're Designing Jewelry

Designing for yourself is obviously easier than designing for others.  You know your tastes and likes and dislikes.  If you like a bead, you know it instantly.  You know where you want to wear your jewelry and how it needs to function.

Designing for others can be more difficult.  You have need to put yourself in her shoes.  What does she wear?  Where will she be wearing your jewelry?  Does she want big and bold or quiet and subdued?  What colors does she want or need?

These questions are helpful whether you’re designing jewelry for yourself, a gift or even to sell.  They’ll help you be more mindful when you’re creating jewelry pieces.

20 Questions to Ask Yourself When Designing Jewelry:

1.  Are you making earrings, a bracelet or a necklace?

2.  Who are you designing it for?

  • Yourself?
  • On-the-go mom?
  • Business woman?
  • Teenager?
  • Bride?

3.  Does she have any metal allergies?

4.  Where will she be wearing the piece?

  • Work? (And what is the work setting – office, retail, etc.?)
  • School?
  • Running errands?
  • PTO?
  • Wedding?
  • Out to dinner?
  • A party?

5.  What are the needs of that person?  (i.e. the bracelet needs to stay out of the way when she’s typing, etc.)

6.  What will she be doing while she’s wearing the piece?  (How durable does it need to be?  Is there anything to take into consideration about her activities while wearing the piece?)

7.  What will be the focal point of the piece?

8.  What colors will you use?

9.  How long will it be?

10.  Will it be big and bold or small and dainty?

11.  Will it be colorful and vibrant or more subdued?

12. Will it have dangley parts, and will this work with her lifestyle?

13.  Will you do a wire wrapped piece, or will you use mixed media, adding in other techniques and materials or some other technique?

14.  What materials will you use?  (i.e. what beads, etc.)

15.  Will be be symmetrical or asymmetrical?

16.  Will there be several parts that are all connected?  And how will they be connected?  Or will there be more longer pieces to connect?

17.  Will you use gold, silver, copper or brass wire?

18.  How does the recipient want to feel when she’s wearing it?

  • Sassy?
  • Pretty?
  • Free spirited?
  • Peppy?
  • Cheerful?
  • Thoughtful?
  • Quirky?
  • Adventurous?
  • Classy?
  • Elegant?

(or some other feeling…)

19.  Does she have any special needs getting the piece on?  For example, some women have a difficult time putting on bracelets themselves.  Will she have someone to help her or can you make it easier for her?

20.  How heavy will the piece be?  If you’re making earrings for someone else, err on the lighter side.


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