How to Design Asymmetrical Earrings

Asymmetrical Earrings by Bob Ebendorf

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I was digging through one of my earring boxes the other day, looking for the perfect set of pearl earrings to wear with a fancy outfit. I ran into a lovely pair I received as a gift from my friend Bob Ebendorf. He made them about eighteen years ago, and they still look so contemporary, so fresh. Bob is a master jeweler, so that's the main reason they look so great, but what struck me is how the asymmetry added to the beauty of the design.

The discovery made me think about what it is exactly that makes asymmetrical earrings visually work. I spread out the dozens of pairs of earrings in that box and started matching different pairs to each other. My little exercise helped me discover that there are quite a few rules of thumb to follow when designing asymmetrical earring pairs.

These earrings are asymmetrical "sisters."



Bead Type in Common

If you've got a striking bead type in each earring, chances are you can match them up. This mismatched pair works especially well because the 6mm potato pearls "talk" to each other. The added bonus is that they each employ the same type of tiny silver chain, making them look like sisters. They are slightly different in profile (like many sisters); one is teardrop-shaped, the other is a line and is carrying a little crystal star. These slight differences add to the excitement of the relationship.

This asymmetrical pair works because they are made with the same stuff.



Each of these earrings actually come from pairs I wear just about every day . . . I never thought of wearing them together before! I like this pairing because the material and treatment (silver clay with a liver of sulfur patina) is exactly the same, but the lengths are slightly different, adding visual interest. The earring on the left is very linear and the one on the right is very, well, not linear, so the dichotomy between the two make for another nice visual conversation.


Color helps make asymmetrical earrings sing.



I would have never, in a thousand years, thought to wear these two earrings together until I started this little exercise. But when I put them together, I thought, Wow! It's the crystal and metal color that makes these two a perfect pair. Again, we've got the DNA to make these two look like sisters (crystals, silver, dangles, etc.), but they're different enough to make a nice visual dance.


It's important to balance asymmetrical earrings.



When I sat these two together, I didn't think they'd work until I put them on; they look great as a pair! These earrings are the same color and bead type, but what makes them work together is that the visual weight of the big fire-polished bead in the left earring balances with the cascading smaller fire-polished beads on the right.

Have you designed a pair of asymmetrical earrings lately? If not, try my little exercise, perhaps with some of the dozens of earring designs you'll find in every issue of Stringing magazine. With the help of Stringing's great projects and some of these rules for design, you might be surprised at how easy it is to design asymmetrically. 

Happy beading-

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About jeancampbell

Jean Campbell is the founding editor (and currently the senior editor) of Beadwork magazine and has written and edited more than 45 beading books. She has written for Beading Daily and has appeared on the DIY Jewelry Making show, The Shay Pendray Show, and PBS' Beads, Baubles, and Jewels where she gives how-to instructions, provides inspiration, and lends crafting advice. Jean teaches jewelry-making workshops throughout the United States and calls Minneapolis home.

10 thoughts on “How to Design Asymmetrical Earrings

  1. Great article….I love missmatched earrings…Can’t get myself to wear them though…I have a friend that gets a lot of my orphan designs and she wears them so well…
    Sometimes thinking outside of the box is so much fun.

  2. I do envy those who can successfully pull off such asymmetry. It certainly gives a much wider variety of jewelry, but I can’t say it would work for this old woman.

  3. Jean, Thanks for the ideas and pictures. This is my first time writing a comment. I appreciate that YOU’RE NOT SELLING ANYTHING. I get tired of the constant PUSHING OF MERCHANDISE.

  4. Jean, Thanks for the ideas and pictures. This is my first time writing a comment. I appreciate that YOU’RE NOT SELLING ANYTHING. I get tired of the constant PUSHING OF MERCHANDISE.

  5. I wear them, make them and my daughters learned also…symmetry is easy asymmetry is for adventures, nature is assimetrycal. Viva la discordancia

  6. I have been wearing this type of earrings for years..I just thought myself as having an odd sense of style. Nice to know there are others out there..Love the look..