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!

Rediscover Your Creativity & Make Jewelry

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.

Find out more and sign up here:  Rediscover Your Creativity & Make Jewelry eCourse.

Note:  This eCourse runs only once or twice each year.

Jewelry Design Inspiration: Nature

Jewelry Design Inspiration:  Nature

As you may have noticed if you have been reading this blog for any amount of time, nature is a huge inspiration for me.  I have just started keeping a nature journal and I go out into nature anytime I get the chance.  (Which of late has been daily!  Yay!)

Jewelry Design Inspiration:  Nature

Recently I visited the Mill Creek Falls with my husband.  The falls  were easy to get to once we find the trail, but it did take a couple trips because we had incorrect directions.

I love waterfalls.  I find them relaxing, inspiring and just simply beautiful.  Before getting to the falls I was grouchy and annoyed.  As soon as we found the right trail and I were on the path to the falls I was relaxed, calm and happy again.

Jewelry Design Inspiration:  Nature

I often talk about being inspired by nature and picking colors or shapes or just the general feeling of inspiration and recharge you get from nature.  But in this circumstance I picked up some souvenirs (rocks) to actually use in jewelry.

I have a rock collection and we often will pick up a rock or two from a river or place we visit.  In this case the rocks all had this metallic quality to them.  Also, I love rocks that have been smoothed by water.

Jewelry Design Inspiration:  Nature

This is one of the rocks we found.  It isn’t smooth, but when I saw it I knew it would be perfect for a pendant.

We also gathered up a few more.

Jewelry Design Inspiration:  Nature

Even as I was picking them out I was envisioning a bracelet with these rocks all wrapped in brass or copper and picked them out for that specific purpose.

Here’s the jewelry I made from those rocks:

Stone Bracelet

Stone Bracelet

Stone necklace

I used brass wire to wrap the rocks and used brass findings to put it all together.

I love the look, but I also love that the rocks came from such a beautiful place where I have such wonderful memories.

How does nature inspire you?

Here’s 30 seconds of the Mill Creek Falls if you need a moment of relaxation:


Nature Jewelry Workshop

Love nature?

Want to learn to make jewelry with souvenirs you find in nature?

Check out my Nature Jewelry Virtual Workshop and get several videos on different techniques for using nature as inspiration and actually using nature in your jewelry making!

Click here to learn more.

Jewelry Design Inspiration: Rings

Jewelry Design Inspiration - Rings

I am often asked about inspiration for jewelry design.  My personal inspiration comes from many different places.  Yours may come from other places.  I started this weekly Jewelry Design Inspiration feature to give you ideas for your own inspiration.

This week’s jewelry design inspiration:  Rings.

Rings Every Day Month

Sometimes you just want to make a certain type of jewelry and the inspiration is simply “I want to make a ring.”

In that case it’s often a matter of playing with materials and seeing what happens.  Sometimes you’ll have a general technique or idea in mind and go from there.  You might purchase a tutorial you like and then get inspired to make something truly your own using the general from that jewelry designer.

If that’s the case, here are some ring tutorials you might want to check out:

Flower Ring Tutorial

Flower Ring Tutorial

Adjustable Wire Heart Ring Tutorial

How to Make an Adjustable Heart Ring

Stretchy Button Ring Tutorial

How to Make a Stretch Ring

Bead Dangle Ring Tutorial

Bead Dangle Ring Tutorial

Adjustable Spiral Ring Tutorial

How to Make an Adjustable Spiral Ring

Wire Wrapped Circle Ring Tutorial

Wire Circle Ring Tutorial

Rings Every Day Month Premium Calendar

Get ring inspiration every day for 30 days with Rings Every Day Month!  There are two versions:  Free and Premium.  With the premium version you get a new tutorial every single day for a month starting April 1st (the rings you see above!)

Learn more and join here:  Rings Every Day Month.

Jewelry Design Inspiration: Strands

Jewerly Design Inspiration - Strands

The question I get most often is where do my design inspirations come from.  So often that I’ve started this Jewelry Design Inspiration feature to hopefully inspire you as well.

Today’s inspiration:  Strands.

Specifically bead strands.

I wrote about playing with materials previously and there are some inspiring ideas for you there about materials.

Today I want to talk about strands of beads.

When I started making jewelry even as a kid what I loved most about it was the beads.  If you’ve been following me awhile you’ve heard the story about how I had this pink unicorn bag (it was a cute little duffel bag shaped purse) where that was just full of beads.  They were all mixed up and in rainbow colors.

When I was moving many years later I found that bag again and started making jewelry again.  Then I started finding all the gorgeous beads there were and I was completely hooked.

How to make a double strand bracelet

Now you can find all shapes, sizes and colors of beads.  It’s almost overwhelming.  If you shop online you can find everything.  But for me there’s nothing like going to a store or bead festival and being able to see the beads up-close and being able to touch them.  (I have to say, I mostly shop online now.  And there is also nothing like getting that package in the mail!  LOL.)

How to Make a Stretch Bracelet

The very first thing I learned to do was to make a stretch bracelet as a child.  It’s the first thing I teach to new jewelry makers, too because you can make a gorgeous bracelet without any special jewelry making tools.

The very next thing?  Simple stringing, which is simply stringing beads on some beading wire and crimping the end to make a necklace or bracelet.  I made jewelry like this for many years before I discovered the wonderful world of wire wrapping.

How to Make a Multi-Strand Bracelet

The multi-strand bracelet above is still one of my most popular tutorials.  Once you have conquered crimp beads this bracelet is simple (that doesn’t mean easy necessarily and it’s certainly time consuming.)  It is also gorgeous.

Multi-Strand Bracelet with Button Accent Tutorial

My inspiration for that bracelet?  Those gorgeous strands of beads.  They are just seed beads.  When I purchased them they were in several strands (like you see above) and looked so beautiful.  I knew I actually wanted to keep the look of all the strands next to each other like how I purchased them.

There are many ways you can use strands in your jewelry designs.  You can simply make a single strand where the focus is the beads.

Simple Stringing Tutorial

Stringing can also free you up to make “intuitive jewelry” where you simply choose some beads and start stringing.

Intuitive Necklace

Double the strands in a Double Strand Bracelet.

How to make a double strand bracelet

Then you can start to get more creative and fun with strands.

These three projects are all from my eCourse Rediscover Your Creativity & Make Jewelry:

Loop Necklace Tutorial

Loop Necklace Tutorial

2 Strand Necklace with chains

2 Strand earrings

To learn simple stringing, click here for my free tutorial.

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