Design Idea A61Q Necklace
by Susanne Kathol, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

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

The Magic of Movement ...

Movement refers to the path our eyes follow in a particular piece of jewelry. A jewelry artist can control the movement of the eye by arranging elements within a piece a certain way. This "movement" is commonly achieved through the use of repetition, rhythm and action.

For example, the eye will travel along lines, edges, graduation of sizes, repeated shapes, darker to lighter elements and from color to non-color. The flow can be on-going or can stop at different elements within the piece, such as a focal point.

The use of repetition to create movement occurs when elements are repeated regularly or irregularly. Slight variations to a simple repetition add visual interest.

Repetition

Design Idea A61Q Necklace

This piece creates movement by the repetition of the glass drop colors/patterns, moving your eye from one side to the other.
Design Idea 586P Necklace

This piece uses the repeated pattern of color shading (an ombre effect) to create movement and includes some variety to create visual interest.

Design Idea A820 Necklace

The pattern of one large turquoise donut followed by two smaller ones is repeated to create movement. Overlapping shapes also helps to create a feeling of movement in this piece.

Rhythm

Rhythm is the result of repetition which leads the eye from one area to another in direct, flowing or staccato movement (similar to music). It can be produced by ongoing repetition or periodic repetition. A particular element may be slightly changed with each repetition and color may be repeated in various parts of the piece to unify the design.

Design Idea A581 Necklace

The rhythm in this piece leads the eye from one cultured freshwater pearl to the next and the flowing drape of this design creates a natural variation in the pattern.
Design Idea A87M Necklace

The eye flows from one grouping of turquoise chip beads to the other similar grouping of turquoise chip beads, creating rhythm with the repetition of color.

Action

Movement can also be created by action, which brings life and activity to a piece of jewelry. This can be seen in bangle bracelets, chandelier earrings and multi-strand necklaces as they move with the wearer. Action can also be implied by leaving the viewer a jumping off point from the piece.

Design Idea B31S Bracelet

A charm bracelet uses action to create movement, bringing life to this jewelry piece.
Design Idea B193 Earrings

Earrings can easily be designed to create movement and the repetition seen in the graduation of the resin and foil beads creates additional movement and visual interest.

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


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