7 Principles of Design for Jewelry-Making Inspiration: Part 2 - Emphasis

Design Idea BB34 Necklace

by Susanne Kathol, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ®

What visual message is your jewelry sending? The answer to this can be found in design theory, more specifically the principles of design as applied to jewelry creations. The design principles include balance, proportion, contrast, unity, harmony, movement and emphasis. These principles of design are used to arrange the elements (beads, components, etc.) in jewelry art, guiding the visual message of the piece.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here's an illustrative exploration of seven different principles of jewelry design, including design ideas to help identify and/or integrate these principles into your own work.

7 Principles of Design for Jewelry-Making Inspiration:
  1. Balance - A Balancing Act
  2. Emphasis - Point of Emphasis
  3. Movement - The Magic of Movement
  4. Proportion - Power of Proportion
  5. Contrast - Contrast Consideration
  6. Unity - Understanding Unity
  7. Harmony - Happiness of Harmony

Point of Emphasis ...

Emphasis refers to the focal point of the jewelry design that catches the viewer's attention and is also referred to as dominance. A jewelry artist can make one area stand out by contrasting it with other areas in size, shape, color or texture. Designers can also isolate the focal element, as an object placed away from a group of other objects will draw the eye, or place it in the center of the design to bring the most attention. This is good to keep in mind if there is an element or object in your piece that you would like to bring attention to, such as a handmade bead, focal piece or other special element. The jewelry piece will appear more harmonious if there is one clear point of emphasis. Here are some examples of defining a focal point and bringing emphasis to a particular part of a jewelry design.

Design Idea BC4M Necklace
This piece uses size and texture to define a sew-on crystal component as the focal point of this design.
Design Idea 8C36 Necklace
This piece uses contrasting color to bring emphasis and draw the eye to the bottom, left side of this design.

This is the second part of a multi-part series on the principles of design for jewelry-making inspiration. View additional design principles:

Customer Comments

We would like to share some of the customer comments we received in response to the article "7 Principles of Design for Jewelry-Making Inspiration: Part 1 - Balance," as featured in an email newsletter. Please keep in mind that the comments expressed below are those of our customers and do not reflect the views of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.

"I enjoyed reading about design and look forward to more articles. Thank you for sending them to me."
- Nancy

"I enjoyed your article on the 7 principles that I printed both available articles and have put them in my reference binder. Can hardly wait for the rest of the principles to be posted on your website. Your site has so much really good information, techniques, and designs to get the creative juices going! Thank you so much, keep up the good work! Best Regards,"
- Cheryl

"Thank you for the design series! As a novice self taught just getting started, I found it informative and helpful. Looking forward to the next articles! I'm finding that as my technique improves, I'm wanting to branch away from using "patterns" or projects I've found in books and on-line so anything helps to improve my idea's. I prefer wire-wrap and like the free-form style's so balance is very important. Just because the individual pieces may be of the same color family or style, without the right balance, it comes off awkward. I do find however that the formal style can be more intimidating because it has to be a mirror image. Making earrings is a prime example--they have to be the same on either side and that can be difficult to achieve using wires and pliers! Radial I think is more difficult however in that if the colors around clash, the whole piece is off or if the sizes don't flow. Actually, I find the asymmetrical the least intimidating! Finding the right placement in the off-balance can be quite tricky as you don't want one side to drag more than the other, annoying when you have to keep turning your necklace around ... definitely things to ponder! Thank you again!"
- Amy

"Love the article about the 7 Principles of Design in jewelry. I've printed it out to keep in my info folder on my jewelry making table. While some is common sense, I found it very informative as I do your entire site. You offer great ideas and how-to instructions as well as great products! Thank you!"
- Jill

"These series are very helpful for the beginner, and an excellent refreshed more the more experienced jewelry maker. Thanks."
- S.E.

"I appreciate this information and look forward to the rest of the articles. I have no formal design training and for me, that is the hardest part of making jewelry."
- Fay

"Thank you for the Principles of Design series. I have read the first two so far. They are good and easily understood. The visual pictures are a great help. I will continue reading the remaining principles.
- Elaine

"The resource was fine, as far as it went. You said there were 7 parts and only showed 2. Where are the other 5? It's disappointing to plan to read all 7 and be cut short."
- Beth

"I am interested in the 7 principles of design for jewelry-making inspiration. So far, I was able to go through Parts 1 and 2. Any way I can obtain Movement, Proportion, Contrast, Unity and Harmony? Thanks"
- Micheline

"Hi, I really like this series. Where can I find part 3 thru 7? Thank you,"
- Barb

"Thanks so much for the great articles on design theory. This is exactly the kind of thing that we novice jewellery makers without formal education need to supplement our creativity. Please keep them coming!"
- Dena

"Looking forward to the rest of the series."
- FlaGal

"Hi, I've now read the first two parts of "What visual message is your jewelry sending?" I think that's what it's called. I've been pondering what it is I don't seem to understand. I think it is the term "visual message." "Message," to me, implies "meaning," And that's where I'm feeling a little lost, I think. You've addressed the different kinds of appearances jewelry can have ... but could you say more (maybe a lot more, because this is what I'm interested in) about what the MESSAGE these different looks carry? Otherwise, maybe don't say you are talking about "What visual message is your jewelry sending?" What you seem to be talking about is, "What are different ways your jewelry can look?" or "What are different styles of jewelry and how do you create them?" Also, if you do try that, maybe you could be more detailed than the simple-minded approach, such as, "Asymmetrical jewelry can impart a freeer, more creative air." Just throwing some thoughts around. Thanks,"
- Judy

"I have appreciated the first two principals but am disappointed that we have to wait many weeks for the next. Is there any way to get all of them? Looks like I'm not the only one anxious to see all 7."
- Betty