Power of Originality


by Leslie McLane, Content Development Group, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

Life is full of inspiration. From nature's jewels to innovative architecture, artwork to human interaction, history to just about anything, our interests are continuously influenced. And that's okay--more than okay even--it's natural. All writers, artists, influencers, you name it, became what they did due to an amalgam of sources they found inspiring. Many creative minds freely tell you who or what inspired them, crediting when credit is due.

The trouble comes not from being inspired by the work of others but when what is created may be a little too close to the original for comfort.

To start with, there are a few important terms to learn when designing and/or selling in the jewelry-making market:
  • Bespoke--adjective--custom made, made to order
  • Bespeak--verb--to arrange in advance, hire or order beforehand
  • Custom--adjective--made or performed according to personal order usually to individual specifications
  • Personalize--transitive verb--to make personal or individual, to ascribe personality to, realize or embody in one's personality, to adjust to the individual
  • OOAK--acronym--"one of a kind"
  • Original--adjective--created directly and personally by a particular artist; not a copy or imitation, not dependent on other people's ideas, inventive and unusual
    Noun--something serving as a model or basis for imitations, a person of fresh initiative or inventive capacity
Especially when starting out, we learn by visuals and by doing. This includes following exact instructions to re-create. Totally fine, even encouraged; as long as this design is not then sold or claimed as an original piece. The good news is, techniques such as seed bead stitches aren't owned by an individual, so they are free to use.

Fire Mountain Gems has an expansive Gallery of Designs for this exact purpose, with a 400% zoom feature to see all the details, a full materials list and sometimes step-by-step instructions. The Gallery is a tool to learn from or be inspired by design, color, technique, etc. It is then up to the artist to find the "pieces parts" they enjoy and make those elements their own. Our in-house designers often scour the web, runway and fashion magazines--along with some of their own personal interests--for inspiration. Then they create with the elements they are intrigued by in mind. Inspiration doesn't have to be from published materials, as the world around you can be a source of stimulus as Kristal Wick mentions in her Fire Mountain Gems exclusive article, ''Look Up, Look Down, Looking for Inspiration''. So, how do you know when your variation or piece derived from a specific inspiration is enough of an original? This can be a tricky process, as it is up to interpretation and sometimes the law when copyrights are involved. Simply changing the colors may not be enough of a difference, as one artist learned in the article ''Can Inspiration Overstep Its Bounds''? If you think it might look too close to the original, it probably does.

Power of Originality Gallery of Designs

It's different when a customer brings you an idea and asks you to create it. This time you're following a template to create a custom or bespoke piece. Your personal touch makes it your work, but the idea is to create a piece personalized to the buyer. This isn't infringement; it is commission.

There are huge perks to creating original jewelry lines:
  • Brand Notoriety: Once you find a particular style that fits you, your name becomes synonymous with the look. You become recognizable through your lines.
  • Higher Pricing: Yup, handmade designs are able to sell for more not only because of the work that went into them, but also because original or OOAK designs are a limited edition, special piece of wearable artwork.
  • Gratification: It feels pretty good when you've created something of your own. This satisfaction then inspires your continued creative process and infuses you with confidence regarding your designing abilities.
Go forth into the world and derive your inspiration. Credit your influencers when appropriate. Develop your talents and your own "look" or "feel" through your creativity. We know you'll be amazing.

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