Posted by NEED4BEAD on 13th Sep 2018

7 Principles of Design for Jewellery Making Inspiration - Part 3

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

What visual message is your jewellery sending? The answer to this can be found in design theory, more specifically the principles of design as applied to jewellery 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 jewellery 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 jewellery 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.


This piece creates movement by the repetition of the glass drop colours/patterns, moving your eye from one side to the other.

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

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 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.

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.

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 colour.


Movement can also be created by action, which brings life and activity to a piece of jewellery. 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.

A charm bracelet uses action to create movement, bringing life to this jewellery piece

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 jewellery-making inspiration.