Have you ever browsed for a piece of jewelry and, when you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, thought, I wish I could just make it myself! Well, you can! Through the process of jewelry design, you can transform your ideas into wearable accessories, from developing the initial concept to drawing jewelry designs to using beads, metals, and clay to bring them to life.
Jewelry design is a fun process, but it’s also complex and involved. For insight into how to design jewelry, including a look into the types of accessories you might want to design, read the guide below.
How to Design Jewelry
The jewelry design process varies based on the type of creation you’d like to make. For example, designing a ring that contains a gemstone or diamond must be meticulously designed to secure the stone within the setting. Other types of jewelry, such as clay or wire-wrapped pieces, require less precision.
Over time, you will learn what works for you. However, as a beginner, consider these key things that can make the jewelry design process easier.
Understand the Principles of Jewelry Design
Jewelry design is part art and part science. While there’s definitely a creative element to it, there are also a few core principles to consider. Understanding and applying these principles can help you create a piece of jewelry that stands out and catches someone’s eye—which is exactly your goal as a jeweler. These principles include:
- Balance: Jewelry doesn’t have to be symmetrical, but it should consider physical and visual weight.
- Emphasis: PIeces of jewelry often feature some point of contrast, such as a center stone, a particular material or texture, or a change in the piece’s shape.
- Proportion: Each element of the piece must make sense with the others. If one component is disproportionately large or small compared to the rest of the piece, the entire accessory will feel off.
- Contrast: Contrasting elements, such as complementary colors or smooth and rough textures, creates visual interest.
- Unity: Ultimately, all the individual elements of a piece of jewelry should work together, which generates a sense of completeness.
Draw Jewelry Designs
For many types of baubles, the jewelry design process starts with a drawing. Just like a fashion designer would first sketch a piece of clothing, a jewelry designer’s first step is to create an initial depiction of each piece.
When drawing jewelry designs, it’s often best to start with a basic sketch, focusing on a general concept, shape, structure, and proportions. Then, you can move to a more complex drawing that includes smaller details, such as prongs or stones. Once finalized, jewelry design drawings can serve as a production guide or be used to create a model or mold for the final piece.
Learning how to draw jewelry designs accurately and realistically requires knowledge of perspective, proportions, and textures. While you can choose to illustrate your designs in black and white using just graphite or ink, it can also be helpful to add details using colored pencils, especially for jewelry that incorporates multicolored elements, such as gemstones or beads.
Model Using Jewelry Design Software
After completing initial jewelry design drawings, many designers move on to creating a 3D model of the piece using jewelry design software. Unlike a drawing, a 3D rendering of a piece of jewelry will allow you to see and evaluate it from every angle. However, creating a 3D rendering isn’t only helpful for the design process; it also opens additional options for bringing the piece to life. If you don’t have the skills or capabilities to produce the piece, there are companies that can take the rendering and complete the printing, casting, and finishing for you.
Some of the best software to design jewelry include Jewelry CAD Dream, Adobe Illustrator, RhinoGold, and 3Design. As a free and open-source option, you can also use Blender for jewelry design. And, there is a specific add-on—JewelCraft—that you can use with Blender that provides jewelry design-specific tools and elements, including a range of stone types and gem cuts.
Bringing jewelry designs to life is a skill in and of itself, and one that can vary greatly depending on the type of bauble you want to produce. Some types of jewelry can be created by hand. Beaded or clay pieces, for example, are more beginner-friendly options that don’t require too many tools or specialized skills. With just a little experimentation—or a few classes—you can learn techniques to produce these types of accessories.
Other types of jewelry design, however, are much more involved. Silver- and goldsmithing, for example, involve shaping precious metals into rings, earrings, and necklaces. Producing these types of pieces requires skills in casting, soldering, riveting, embossing, and more. However, if that’s the type of jewelry design you want to pursue, don’t shy away from it! There are plenty of ways to learn these skills, including online jewelry design classes that can walk you through the process step by step.
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Types of Jewelry Design
Think of all the different pieces of jewelry you see on a daily basis. From delicate, thin silver bracelets to bold, beaded statement necklaces, there are many different types of jewelry you can design. While some varieties are more challenging to create than others, they are all interesting, beautiful, and fun to design. Here’s a look at just a few examples.
Beaded jewelry is created by stringing together beads with thread or thin wire. Even within the category of beaded jewelry, designs can vary widely. Beads can range from tiny to chunky, from round and smooth to ornate and decorative. And, they can be made from a variety of materials, including glass, porcelain, paper, shells, bone, ivory, or wood.
Unlike silversmithing or goldsmithing, wire jewelry requires no soldering or heat elements. Instead, you create it by wrapping jewelry wire in decorative shapes and then joining components using mechanical connections (e.g., two interlocking loops). Wire jewelry can be made of just wire, or it can contain beads for a more colorful look.
Some jewelry makers prefer to use clay because it can be easily molded into any shape and blended into a variety of colors. Creating clay jewelry is generally very beginner-friendly. You simply roll out the clay, cut out your desired shapes, bake the shapes in your oven, and then add any final details, like jump rings or earring posts.
Silver and Gold Jewelry
This category of jewelry design encompasses fine jewelry, such as diamond rings and necklaces, as well as other accessories made from precious metals. To create silver or gold jewelry, you’ll need to develop skills including sawing, filing, and soldering, as well as a range of finishing techniques, including buffing and polishing. The process can be intimidating, and it certainly requires an upfront investment in tools and education, but it can result in beautiful, fine jewelry pieces.
The Jewelry of Your Dreams
Jewelry design is exciting because you can take it in so many different directions. Maybe you want to design big, bold statement pieces, or maybe you’d prefer to create delicate, dainty items. Whatever your vision, learning the process of how to design jewelry opens up the opportunity to bring your exact vision to life—for you and others to enjoy!
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