7 Principles of Design for Jewelry-Making Inspiration: Part 4 - Proportion

Design Idea A8G2 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

Proportion - Power of Proportion ...

Proportion is the feeling of unity created when all the elements (color, size, amount) in a particular jewelry piece relate well with each other. Proportion is all about the relationship of one part of the design to another or one area to the whole. Proportion is usually not even noticed until something is out of proportion. When the relative size of two elements being compared seems wrong or out of balance it is said to be "out of proportion." Artists can use exaggerated or enlarged proportions to bring emphasis or show importance.

Tips for achieving good proportion in jewelry designs include grouping similar elements together or things that share a common feature, such as texture, color, materials, etc. The clasp and focal piece should be proportional to the beads in a particular jewelry design and the overall piece should be in proportion to the person wearing it.

Design Idea A8G2 Necklace

This necklace uses an exaggerated proportion to bring attention to the turquoise centerpiece. The overall design remains in proportion as small seed beads are combined to form a thick collar and accent fringe.

Design Idea A69S Earrings

These Art Clay® earrings represent good proportion as all the different-sized leaves relate well with each other and the overall design. Placing similar patterns on the same-sized leaves helps create a sense of proportion as well.


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


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