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7 Principles of Design for Jewellery Making Inspiration  - Part 1

Posted by NEED4BEAD on

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


A Balancing Act


Balance refers to the distribution of the visual weights of materials, colors, texture and space in jewelry designs. Think in terms of a seesaw or teeter-totter, the idea is that the weights should be similar on both sides to make a design feel stable. For example, if you have several small elements on one side of a necklace they can be balanced by a larger element on the other side. In addition to physical weight, it's important to consider visual weight as well, such as color, lightness or darkness and texture. When objects are equally distributed based on all aspects of weight, the jewelry design is considered balanced.

Balance can be symmetrical (evenly balanced), asymmetrical (un-evenly balanced) or radial balanced (arranged around a central point).
Symmetrical (Formal) Balance

Symmetrical balance, also known as formal balance, is a mirror image balance. If you draw a line down the center of a jewelry design, all the elements on one side of the piece are mirrored on the other side. The following design ideas illustrate a symmetrical balance, as both sides are evenly balanced in materials, colors, texture shape and form.

Asymmetrical (Informal) Balance

Asymmetrical balance, also known as informal balance, results when several smaller elements on one side are balanced by a large item on the other side, or one darker item is balanced by several lighter items. Asymmetrical balance appears more casual and less planned; however it is usually more difficult, as the jewellery artist must create the design very carefully to ensure that it is still balanced. An unbalanced design can be harsh on the eyes and may appear as if things might slide off, just as an unbalanced seesaw will dip to one side. Here are some design ideas that illustrate asymmetrical balance.

This piece incorporates a different size, number and colour of materials on either side, but overall each side's visual weight still balances with the other.


This piece features different colours of Swarovski crystal beads, but overall each side still balances with the other.


Radial Balance


Radial balance is where all the elements in a piece radiate out from a centre point. A good example in nature is a starfish. It is easy to maintain a focal point in radial balance, since all the elements lead your eye toward the centre of the piece. The following design ideas are examples of radial balance.


There is also the intentional ''off-balance'' design which can create visual interest and suggest motion and action.


This is the first part of a seven-part series on the principles of design for jewelry-making inspiration. 

Stay Tuned for the next 6 steps..

Happy Beading from the NEED4BEAD Team..