Is Your Jewelry Design Finished? 5 Tips to Help You Decide

A few short years ago, I decided to quit my day job and attend culinary school. Okay, so it wasn’t exactly on a whim, but I had finally decided to follow my passion and learn the art of creating beautiful cakes and pastries. Although I learned how important it is to work neatly and to mise en place my ingredients ahead of time, by far the biggest—and most challenging—lesson I learned is what Chef Elizabeth called the Ta-Da moment.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been a perfectionist when it comes to my art, and my cakes are no different. According to Chef Elizabeth, it's important to step back, look at what you’ve made, and decide that you’ve embellished it quite enough; throw your hands up and proclaim with confidence “Ta-Daaaa!”

How to Know When to Say “When”

Don’t overwork your jewelry designs. Know when to say when. Take a look at the first example by Cynthia Thornton. Cynthia is the author of the new Interweave book, Enchanted Adornments (coming in late October) and someone who has refined her sense of when enough is enough.

Though asymmetrical, Cynthia’s October Shore necklace design achieves balance through her use of similar colors and elements on both sides. Adding the smaller strand of rondelles gives the piece more visual interest than would a single strand of the larger nuggets and crystals. By designing the piece in such a selective way, the result is very wearable.

In the second example, we played with Photoshop to see how different the necklace would look had more elements been added. Though still balanced, the overall look is too heavy; visually there’s just too much going on. Adding too many elements could also limit its wearability, simply because the necklace itself is either too heavy or is too elaborate to match any outfits.


How Do You Decide When Your Project is Done? 5 Tips to Help You Decide

• Visualize your design by first laying out your beads and other materials on a bead board or piece of felt. Add and subtract elements repeatedly to see how your piece would look before actually assembling it.

• Work a little at a time and step back as you bead to look at your work in progress. Or set it aside for the night and come back the next day.  This will give you a fresh perspective.

• Get a second opinion. Ask friends for their opinions, even if they aren’t beaders. Every woman I know has an opinion on fashion and style. Or post a photo to the reader showcase in the Beading Daily forums.

• Wear your piece for a few days, while you are trying to decide whether or not to add more. You may find that you end up liking it as is.

• Flip through a magazine like Stringing that’s packed with great ideas. The more you see examples of balanced designs, the easier it will be to create them yourself! Subscribe today to receive 80+ designs ideas in every issue.

In your next creative adventure, whether beading or baking, I wholeheartedly encourage you to step back, throw your hands up, and proclaim with confidence “TA-DA!”

Have you created a piece of jewelry in the past that, judged now, now seems over the top? What would you have done differently? Share your thoughts on the website.

New Free Project
October Shore
by Cynthia Thornton

Pull together a collection of favorite stones and other sparkly finds and string them up into a treasure-rich necklace.  This project from Stringing will be free for a limited time.

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Beading Daily Blog
Erin Carey

About Erin Carey

  Erin Carey is the current Web Production Administrator for Interweave. She studied metalwork and communications before receiving her BA in Media Communications from Colorado State University in 2008. During college she worked for several newspapers doing freelance photography, then lived abroad in New Zealand for two years. A recent but avid beader, Erin currently lives in Colorado where she loves making jewelry, writing and traveling whenever she gets the chance.  

10 thoughts on “Is Your Jewelry Design Finished? 5 Tips to Help You Decide

  1. I love the article. I am a perfectionist on all my artwork. I just ripped, cut and strangled 4 pr of bird earrings. I just simply did not step back and “Admire that first pair”. Thanks, for the reminder.GyspyMary

  2. It always takes me several sessions and lots of ruminating to finish a design, and then I always wear it a couple of times just to see if it falls right on my neck or wrist. This also allows people to see my newest creation and I always get some sort of comment on it!
    Hallie J.

  3. If I’m not sure about a design I’ve done, I sleep on it, especially if it involves cutting expensive chain. The trick, which I might learn before next century, is to find the balance between admiring something that still needs “editing” and working a design to death.

  4. I love the example of Cynthia’s piece. It really is a wearable piece of art. Cynthia has submitted dozens of necklaces to Stringing magazine and out of all of them, I see her wearing this one the most!

  5. I really needed this article right now! I have far too many optios on my worktable and the idea of taking a walk away and leaving it “as is” may lead to my ta-da moment!

  6. I am SO glad some finally wrote a piece on this topic. In my jewelry-making, I have long lived by the adage: Just because you CAN make it, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. With jewelry getting more intricate and complex all the time, I see so many pieces that, IMHO, are over the top and lack a certain “taste” level. While I realize beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I believe those sorts of creations are best suited for hanging in a gallery or perhaps entering in a contest. They just don’t look appropriate when worn. When it comes to making wearable pieces, I have always tried to live by the “less is more” rule. But using restraint does not mean a less interesting piece will result. Just like too much clutter in a home can overpower its design, you will appreciate the elements of a necklace more if each one is properly highlighted rather than lost in a sea of superfluous “stuff.”

  7. I made a piece about a year and a half ago called “Bone Deep”. I never really felt comfortable with it’s proportions and somehow it’s design. IT was over 6 inches long from bail to bottom, which worked fine for me, because I am tall and have a long neck. This was fairly early in my wireworking days.

    After living with it for about six months, I decided to revise it. I made it much shorter (around 4 inches) and added other elements, and reshaped and moved a few of the wires to balance the design and add whimsy.

    The piece sold a few weeks after the revision…to another tall woman. What can I say?

    Dawn Blair, Dawn Blair Jewelry

  8. I’m sorry, but I agree with the comment that the necklace is still overdone. There are rules of design which can be broken, but that is another story.

    1st rule: Uneven numbers always work. Sometimes when working on any creative item & you can’t seem to make it work, count & see if you have even numbers. This applies from flower arranging to knitting. Uneven numbers are best. The main section of this design has even numbers from what i can see. It isn’t balanced

    2nd rule: Don’t introduce a new design element, unless it is echoed in another part of the design, otherwise, the new design element jumps out at you. The small beads need to be incorporated into the main strand, even just one or two. The small strand of beads is more obvious than the main strand.Also another strand of the small beads could be put under the main strand . This would balance out the design & frame the main section.

    Checking Designs: If you want to check anything you create from a straight forward design viewpoint, look at it in a mirror. That’s why hairdressers & make-up artist always look at there work that way. Any sections needing attention become obvious.

    Turn your design upside down. It works, trust me.

    Look at it through a blue cellophane sheet. This is like changing a colour photo to black & white. Black & white needs to be strong in design. You remove colour & just get shape,texture, line etc. Are these elements pleasing when looking through the cellophane.

    Hold your piece of work in front of you, facing a mirror. Close your eyes, then open them & see what it is in your design that grabs your eye first. If it is not what you would prefer to be seen as the principal part of the design, change it or get rid of it.
    P.S. I personally love VOILA (behold)