How to Name Your Jewelry Projects

Feb 16, 2009

What’s in a Name?

You remember the famous line Shakespeare’s Juliet says to her Romeo, “What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Well, I beg to differ, Miss Capulet. Here in the Stringing and Beadwork offices, we place high importance on names, or, in our case, titles. For instance, would you, dear Beading Daily reader, prefer to make a project called Red and White Beads on Steel Wire Necklace or Beach-ball Bling? I rest my case.

Michelle Mach, Beading Daily’s editor, brought it to my attention that coming up with good titles is something people—herself included—struggle over sometimes. As the editor of Stringing magazine, I assign and edit titles so often, I don’t really give much thought to the mechanics behind it anymore. So, when asked by Michelle to share some title advice, I had to stop and think a bit. What do I and the rest of the Stringing staff think about when naming projects? Here’s what I came up with:

4 Tips for Naming Your Jewelry Projects

1. Keep it short. One to three words is best. In Stringing magazine, we don’t have much room for titles—they have to fit on one line. Keep in mind that it’s not necessary to say “Necklace” or “Bracelet” in the title, either. Usually the introductions and/or photos clarify what the project is. Here’s a shorter-is-better example: Lorelei Eurto’s fabulous necklace on the cover of the new Stringing Spring 2009, A Jealous Mistress, was originally named Art Is a Jealous Mistress for the saying on her focal piece. We took off the words “Art Is,” which shortens the title but retains the intrigue.

2. Relate it to your design without being too literal. Think about it: If all titles were literal, every project in Stringing would be called Pretty Strung Necklace or some variation of that. When naming your project, think about what materials are used, what/who your project reminds you of (could be an emotion, a character in a book, a season, a place, etc.), or what distinguishes your project—is it simple, colorful, striking, etc.? Molly Schaller chose an excellent name for her piece in Stringing Spring 2009 that was designed around a pewter pendant with a bubble design: Effervescence. It’s short and it describes the bubbly nature of the project.

3. Make them fun! Alliteration. Onomatopoeia. Figures of speech. Plays on words. Kookie references. Bring it on! Everything about making jewelry should be fun, after all. One of my favorite titles from the new Stringing Spring 2009 is Mrs. Roper’s Earrings. The colorful floral earrings were created (and named) by Tracey Johnson, whose title pays homage to the flashy landlady from the late-seventies show Three’s Company.

4. French-ify it! A joke we have here in the Stringing and Beadwork office is that when all other ideas fail, find a French word to throw in your title. Don’t believe me? I named a project Enamel Amour in my upcoming book with coauthor Melinda Barta, Beadwork’s editor, Mixed Metals: Creating Contemporary Jewelry with Silver, Gold, Brass & More. And Melinda named a beautiful berry-inspired necklace she made for Beadwork (October/November 2008) Flirty Framboise (framboise being French for raspberry). French words just have that je ne sais quoi.

Remember to send me your titles (and the projects attached to them) for consideration in Stringing magazine. See the contributor guidelines for details and upcoming deadlines. 


Danielle Fox is the editor of Stringing, author of Simply Modern Jewelry, and coauthor of Mixed Metals.  If you have questions or comments for Danielle, please post them on the website. 



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Comments

on Feb 16, 2009 7:43 AM
Great post, Danielle! Thanks for breaking down what we sometimes do without thinking in such easy steps.
on Feb 16, 2009 7:53 AM
Great article. Funny timing as I've been on a jewelry making spree trying to get things posted in Etsy for a special spot set this past Saturday. I even took the piece with to lunch and asked the cafe owners for input. Ultimately, a deep purple, light blue and silver seed bead spiral chain with a swirled glass focal bead and a wire wrapped bail went from my initial "Dancing by the Blue Danube" to be "Dancing in the Surf." So is it still too long?
Pat de verre wrote
on Feb 16, 2009 7:58 AM
It is so funny for me "a french beader" to hear that add a french word in a name is "exotic" and add un je ne sais quoi...Sure, your choices are always sensible
on Feb 16, 2009 8:11 AM
Re using French words : Pleaaaaaaaaaaaase use them well! I see so many French titles on Etsy with terrible mistakes in them! The grammar is very different, and things have a gender in French, eg : Blue raspberry is Framboise bleue, not Bleu framboise :) Anyways, great article!
Hootie2 wrote
on Feb 16, 2009 8:44 AM
Thanks for the great steps to naming a project! When searching for the perfect name, I often come up with a few words from a song or a song title. Are there copyright considerations when using just a few words, such as Winter Wonderland?
Cath@17 wrote
on Feb 16, 2009 9:22 AM
This article is sincerely excellent. I indeed name my Jewelry following more or less these steps in one way or the other. And the funny thing is that we, in our French region, tend to give English names to some of our pieces when we are lacking ideas, or just because it sounds fantastic! I also would like to react to MademoiselleM's note: Bleu framboise could be used if raspberries WERE actually blue. Even if it is not really correct, I like the way it sounds.
Jaelle2 wrote
on Feb 16, 2009 10:54 AM
Thanks for the ideas about naming projects--very helpful. It is not always easy coming up with a good title! I do have a quibble with two of your points, however. While I enjoy witty project titles, they have little to do with whether I will try a project. You ask if I would prefer to make Red and White Beads on Steel Wire Necklace or Beach-ball Bling. Neither--until I see the photo and directions! Also, using French names or words will have a negative effect on me. Not being of French background, I am tired of seeing SO many things that exploit the French language. How about some Italian-based names? Or Celtic? Or Swahili? There are many rich cultures in the world. Using a French name where the project has no relation to anything French makes me think it's pretentious.
on Feb 16, 2009 4:53 PM
Diane Fitzgerald writes: Great advice. The only thing I'd add is that starting with a name for a piece instead of naming it after it is finished helps focus your ideas about color and style. Also, could you encourage beaders to sign and date their pieces somehow? This would be a great column.
JoAnneM@46 wrote
on Feb 16, 2009 7:59 PM
Is there any hope of getting an article regarding finding sales representatives for our lines of jewelry? Thanks for the great site. JoAnne
KarenZ@10 wrote
on Feb 16, 2009 8:01 PM
RE: When a project is sent in, do they get returned to the owner?
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Carl4 wrote
on Feb 23, 2009 10:39 AM
Is this something to do with male psyche? I prefer "Red and White beads on Steel Necklace" It does what it says on the tin! It's probably a good job I don't try to sell anything.
beadgirl520 wrote
on Aug 3, 2009 5:54 AM
Thanks so much for the timely tips! I am gearing up for the holiday season and was having trouble naming my pieces. I always marvel at how appropriately named the pieces in your magazines are and wonder who comes up with them so easily. I am glad to know I am in good company with those who can't seem to pull a fitting name out of the air! Now back to work for me! And where's that French dictionary??
Jackie@152 wrote
on Aug 3, 2009 8:00 AM
To Mary Phillips try rearranging the words "Surf Dancing" sounds good.
AndreaM226 wrote
on Aug 3, 2009 12:48 PM
Whenever I think of any name that could be used for jewelry, finished or not, I write in down in my Beading Notebook for future reference. You'd be amazed at how many two to three word names just pop into your head at the oddest moments - write them down, the list can be used later for the perfect name or as inspiration for a another name.
Rhoda@10 wrote
on Aug 3, 2009 4:42 PM
Thanks for the wonderful and useful advise; this has always been a struggle for me! I will refer to these tips in my future naming efforts!
on Aug 3, 2009 6:11 PM
What great tips! I ALWAYS have such trouble naming my pieces, this will surely help. Thanks again. Hallie J.
Lou Ma wrote
on Aug 6, 2009 12:05 PM
Carl, male psyche or not, it's a good point. Maybe something like "Red, White and Steel" would satisfy the artist's desire for catchy, your desire for descriptive and the publisher's desire of brevity. There is no reason not to consider all three when naming. As Diane and Andrea pointed out; finding the name can come at any point in the process.
ammjewelry wrote
on Sep 5, 2009 9:22 PM
I'm relatively new to jewelry making and never considered naming my pieces. This is great information to use now that I'm blogging. Thank you! Millie
judyjclark wrote
on Sep 15, 2009 7:22 PM
Twist & Shout! eh?
judyjclark wrote
on Sep 15, 2009 7:23 PM
Twist & Shout! Good name for wire jewelry.
Beading Owl wrote
on Dec 1, 2009 4:43 PM
This is a great article. While I have been creating Jewelry for almost 2 years…I never gave it much thought to naming a piece until now as I am just getting starting with launching myself into online selling. Even posted a link to this article on my blog page to share it on.
SCB1 wrote
on Dec 9, 2009 8:23 AM
I too have had a lot of trouble coming up with good names for my pieces. As I was struggling today to name a recent piece I remembered this article. I just had to return and reread it to help me name my new piece. ......thanks for this very helpful article. Sue