7 Tips for Designing Summer Jewelry

The Colors and Textures of Summer

I am so a summer girl. Warm weather means lighter clothing in both color and fabric weight, so I can wear jewelry against my skin instead of around a turtleneck—so many more parts to adorn, from throat and ears, to arms, wrists, ankles and even toes. (I have to admit I can’t get comfy wearing toe rings, but they look great with a nice pedicure!) Fashion fabrics show a perfect palette for the colors of summer—especially blues and greens. I am a green girl all year round, but the greens of summer seduce me because they evoke the ocean.

The textures of summer are alluring too. Take for instance the “Blue Opal Reef” necklace by Julia Watt, featured in our July/August 2009 issue of Step by Step Beads. Julia’s design is clearly inspired the by seas with a most interesting combination of materials, textures, and techniques. She strung and crimped selected lampworked beads with an AB finish that evoke a calm pool, stitched fringes of seed beads that look like sea plants, and used seed beads to string glistening faceted crystal beads with the whimsical silvery charms of a mermaid’s jewelry box. Nothing subtle in Julia’s homage to both sea and season, which tells me she is also a summer girl!

7 Tips for Designing Summer Jewelry

Here are some tips to keep in mind as you design your own breezy beads!

1. Use materials that are comfortable against your skin.  We usually reveal more of it in the summer with open necklines and bare arms. Consider smooth-surfaced beads like resin, stone, pearls, Lucite, round seed beads, and lampwork.  Also avoid components with large, flat areas, as they tend to stick to your skin.

2. Make pieces that lie against clothing, not skin. Longer necklaces with modest clasps make good hot-weather pieces, since they minimize the jewelry that touches your skin. Plus, longer necklaces look wonderful worn with breezy summer fashions like a long tank or T-shirt.

3. Look to nature for color inspiration.  Like fruits and veggies, colors of summer jewelry should be fresh and vibrant. Look at the wealth of summer greens in a single hosta plant, the frothy, creamy naturals in the sand, or the myriad blues and greens of the ocean reflected in the sky. Different oceans have different colors, too. My trips to the Jersey shore yield me a much different palette of blues and greens than, say, a vacation in Barbados!

4. Keep it lightweight.  In the heat of the summer, no one wants to feel anything but airy. Use medium to light stones, beads, and chain gauges. Layer delicate lengths and save that nice chunky brass rollo chain for October.

5. Make open space work for you. Space out your primary beads, linking them between strands of seed beads or loops of small stones, or dangle them from colorful and featherweight titanium jump rings around a lightweight chain. This reduces the weight (visually and virtually) of a piece as well as making it lighter on your budget.
6. Avoid short choker or jewel-length necklaces that rest against your neck unless they’re very delicate. 

7. Have fun with larger earrings! Summer style means open, collarless necklines and pulled up hairdos, so take advantage of your exposed lobes.

What are your favorite summer colors?  What kind of jewelry do you love for summer?  Share your summer design tips

Related Posts:


Beading Daily Blog
Michelle M.

About Michelle M.

I was the founding editor of Beading Daily (2007-2009) and my now a freelance designer/writer/editor.  My designs have been published in Stringing, Step by Step Beads, Jewelry Gifts for the Holidays, Creative Jewelry, Beadwork, and other magazines. I enjoy stringing, bead embroidery, wirework, metal work, mixed media, beadweaving—pretty much anything that involves beads or jewelry.  I also enjoy exploring new crafts like pottery and felting.  I write a personal blog if you want to see more of my work. 16+ Free Beading Projects: A list of the free projects I created for Beading Daily. Contact Info If you have a question regarding Beading Daily, please contact customer service at beadingdaily@interweave.com or the current editor, Kristal Wick. If you'd like to contact me, you'll find my info on my website:  www.michellemach.com.  You can also follow me on Twitter at:  http://twitter.com/beadsandbooks Pictured here is a pair of earrings I made for the Spring 2010 issue of Stringing in an attempt to get over my fear of designing with the color orange!

12 thoughts on “7 Tips for Designing Summer Jewelry

  1. I don’t understand why jewelry, particularly necklaces, are not photographed on a person – that really is the only way to get an idea what it will look like when completed. You can’t get a real hint of how something will look photographed against a backdrop.

  2. I agree with MairK 100%. It’s like seeing a dress that looks horrible on the rack but looks great on you. When you spread out the wire wraps to a chain or pendant in a photo, for instance, all you see are loops without getting a sense of the real look of the piece.

    Re: summer colors — my faves are coral, peach, citrus, blue, green — generally anything but baby pink, which I won’t wear any season of the year. (It clashes with my hair and complexion.)

    Summer jewelry — I agree that anything against the skin can get sticky, especially fiber strands and the flat stones you mentioned. For some reason, heavy necklaces just seem to weigh a ton more, even in the “right” colors!

  3. Vivid aqua with anything but especially reds of all tones evoke summer times with beautiful bright skies and a sense of summer fun. I love beadweaving and have been experimenting with ways of making more open spaces (triangles and squares) in a summer bracelet that is alive with aqua and red stripes – its looking fantastic.

  4. Hi!
    The point is well taken about how pieces can look very different when worn. Would it help to show pieces on a jewelry display form that simulates a neckline?

    We show the photos as we do to make them easy to see how to make them–that’s why everything is styled and spread out.

    And, using models can be tricky–will a certain age or type of model be off-putting to anyone?

    I’d like to hearmore about this!
    Thanks for your comments.

    Leslie, editor in chief, Step by Step Beads, Creative Jewelry and Bead Star

  5. I think putting them on a display is the best idea as I agree that the model used could be off-putting. I also like being able to see the entire necklace which isn’t possible when it’s being worn or on a display. For the BeadStar contest I found the items that were on simple white backgrounds with no other distractions were the easiest to view and most appealing for judging purposes.

  6. Photos without display models is my vote, too; they show the jewelry in such great detail without a distracting background. I’d rather see an entire piece and focus on how it’s made instead of how it drapes. As for favorite colors, I like the warm sparkle of Crystal Copper and gold chain against summer-tanned skin – either alone or mixed with the shimmer of pearls and/or sea blues and greens. Since this is the season for white clothes I also like beautiful sunrise pinks and corals.

  7. Leslie, thanks for chiming in and asking for opinions. Seems to me a lot depends on the kind of jewelry in the photo. A detailed beadwoven piece would demand great detail, not a model. The only time I really want some idea of the look on a person or display model is when an artist combines several charms and dangles to form a pendant. Even an inset of that part of a necklace on a display form would help.