Principles of Design for Jewelry-Making
Making jewelry is a creative endeavor and, like all types of art, benefits from the basic principles of design. This article will cover the concepts of balance, emphasis, movement, proportion, contrast, pattern and unity, complete with examples. When considering these principles, it's important to note that they do not exist in isolation but rather overlap, working together as helpful tools for the jewelry artist.
Balance in jewelry design refers to the distribution of materials, colors, texture and space. There are three types of balance which are symmetrical, asymmetrical and radial. Symmetrical, also known as formal balance, is a mirror image. If you draw a line down the center, all the elements on one side mirror the other. Asymmetrical, or informal balance, is when each side of an object is different yet the components are balanced to each other using size, texture, color and weight, or a combination of factors. Radial occurs when elements radiate from a center point. There is also the exception to this rule with intentionally off-balanced designs which create visual interest and suggest motion.
Emphasis helps to bring focus to a particular area in a piece of jewelry, like a handmade bead or focal. It helps to draw the eye exactly where you want it. Placement, size, texture and color are all tools that can help accentuate a unique component. Placement is crucial in the principle of emphasis in design. Your focal component is the heart of your piece, so take some time to figure out where you would like it to be and how to make it stand out.
Movement is the use of various elements to move the eye around a piece leading to areas of interest with visual cues like shape, orientation, color and size to name a few. Consider the direction you want the viewer’s eye to travel and design accordingly.
Proportion is the relationship of one part of a design to another or one area to the whole. It conveys the feeling of unity when all the elements (color, size, amount) in a particular jewelry piece relate well to each other. When the relative size of elements seems wrong or out of place, it intuitively feels off. You can use uniform ratios or take a more instinctual approach and look closely at the individual elements in your piece. Do they feel like they visually fit? Lay it all out on a bead board before construction to easily adjust anything that does not seem to belong.
Contrast in design is created by using elements that differ from one another. It's easy to think of in terms of color, but you can also use texture, shapes and sizes, or a combination, to build contrast. For a piece that is energetic and pops, use a complementary color scheme--colors opposite each other on the color wheel. At the opposite end of the spectrum, use varying shades of the same hue for a calming effect. Or try the most striking contrast of all: black and white. Pairing black and white creates dimension depending on the background.
A pattern is a composition created by repeating elements. They give structure and cohesion to designs and are something we learn to make early on in our lives. Designs can range from simple compositions with just a few components to complex works of art with many repeating items.
Unity in design is the feeling of completeness and harmony. A unified design is perceived as a whole, more than the sum of its parts. This principle is the culmination of successfully applied design principles. Start with a rough idea of what you are trying to achieve. Think of the feeling or theme you wish to convey through your jewelry and go from there. Even if your design style is freeform, a basic outline helps give direction while allowing for artistic expression.
Design with ...
Additional Resources ...
How did you like this resource? Your feedback helps us provide resources that matter to you most.