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Shape Symbolism in Jewelry

Design Idea A37X Necklace
by Dan Day, Marketing Content Development Group, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

Basic Shapes

Basic geometric shapes have been in use for thousands of years with a variety of meanings, many related to religion or magic. Essentially, any deeper meaning you wish to ascribe to a shape is valid as long as there is some rationale or explanation.

As we learned as children from toys such as LEGOS®, basic shapes are the building blocks for design. As we matured, we began to learn the deeper meanings and symbolism of these shapes. As a designer, you can choose shapes to add specific meanings to your jewelry and give them a story.

Straight Line

Let's begin with a single straight line: What could be simpler or more straightforward? You may argue a simple line is not a shape, but a straight line is a good foundation upon which to build.

Symbolism: Solid, dependable, logical, predictable and understandable.

When it comes to jewelry, what saves the straight line from boredom is color, texture and numbers.

Design Idea D14H Chandelier

Figure 1

Fringe is a great example of multiple straight lines. Fringe can be said to symbolize strength in numbers, thematic consistency through repetition and unity of motion.

Color is very important to creating interesting fringe in this seed bead chandelier. (fig. 1)

With this necklace (fig. 2) of cultured freshwater pearls fringe, we can see that straight lines are anything but boring; in fact, the fringe adds excitement.

Design Idea 686E Necklace

Figure 2


And the idea of motion brings us to a straight line made more interesting: the curved or wavy line which can symbolize water, the ocean, the surf, movement, rhythm, flight, happiness and pleasure.

Sorry, couldn't resist this obvious example of wavy lines (fig. 3). Even without the text and other symbols, it conveys motion.

Curved lines form the basis for the dragon wings on this wirework necklace (fig. 4) with symbolism that goes beyond the mere physical presence of wings.

Also, curved lines can be arranged to form an abstract representation of something familiar, as in this brooch (fig. 5) consisting of lengths of wire formed into curves to resemble a snowflake.
Shape Symbolism in Jewelry

Figure 3


Design Idea F32W Necklace

Figure 4

Shape Symbolism in Jewelry

Figure 5


Cross

Let's straighten those lines again and use two of them intersecting each other at right angles to create a cross. This is a very powerful shape signifying spirituality, healing, balance, faith, unity, hope, sacrifice, salvation and groupings of four ideas or things such as earth, water, air and fire.

Triangle

There is lots of symbolism for the triangle: a pyramid; an arrow denoting progression, direction, purpose; the Christian Holy Trinity; masculinity; groupings of three ideas or things, e.g. past, present and future or the balance of three disciplines: law, science and religion. When the triangle is pointed down some believe it symbolizes being rooted, stability, foundation, female energy, descending to the physical world. In contrast to the triangle pointing up: masculine energy, instability, ascending to the spiritual world.

In the jewelry-making world we see the triangle in the form of a spike and the cone.

And, perhaps the most famous triangle of all, the Christmas Tree.
Shape Symbolism in Jewelry

Shape Symbolism in Jewelry
Shape Symbolism in Jewelry

Circle

Symbolism: wholeness, completion, infinity, closed system or thinking, graceful curves, femininity, circular logic, earth/sun/moon/planets continuity, protection and community.

Circles can be found in jewelry designs using jumprings, round pendants and other components. Of course, a circle is the very basis of a necklace, bracelets and hoop earrings.

With this bracelet (fig. 6) we have a multitude of jumprings and Oh! Ring™ rubber components forming a torus, or doughnut shape, which is a 3D version of a circle.

Shape Symbolism in Jewelry

Figure 6

Design Idea BC1P Necklace

Another popular torus is a wreath, as in Design Idea F62N.

Other 3D implementations of a circle include balls, spheres and ovals as represented in jewelry-making by beads, pearls and other components.

Design Idea G77B is a festival of circle and round shapes with faceted round glass beads, seed beads, pearls and cabochons.

This spiral (fig. 7) is an intriguing wavy-line development of a circle. The spiral can symbolize creativity, growth, evolution, death, expansion, fertility and birth, which is why the spiral is on the stomach of some goddess forms.
Design Idea F62N Necklace

Design Idea G77B Necklace
Shape Symbolism in Jewelry

Figure 7


Square and Rectangle

We conclude our survey of basic shapes on the square. The square and rectangle can symbolize order, stability, security, honesty, rationality, formality, materiality, a space, containment, definition and much more.
These design ideas make colorful and imaginative use of squares and rectangles that can add extra meaning to the overall conception.

However you wish to use symbolism it can help determine your choice of basic shapes for your jewelry designs, provide deeper meaning and supply you with an interesting story about you and your creative process.

Shape Symbolism in Jewelry
Design Idea G21R Necklace and Earring Set

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