Making Friends With Color in Jewelry Design

Color is one of the most impactful elements of design. It can also seem scary and mysterious–here are some tips to help you make friends with color.


Aim to develop your personal style

There’s a lot of color theory out there, and there’s a lot to learn…but the most important asset to great color is knowing what you love. Whether you’re making jewelry for yourself, or for someone else, you are most likely to put your best effort and deepest passion into something that reflects the natural you. Whether you prefer styles that are trendy, classic, eclectic or vintage, you’ll feel most proud of designs that reflect your authentic self. Experiment with a lot of different styles to help you find your own style. There are plenty of great ones out there. Let the true you soar in your jewelry designs as you continue to learn and grow in your craft. You’ll be happier, and your designs will convey the heart you put into them.


Copy color combos you like

There’s nothing wrong with copying a color combination that works and using your own beads and materials to make a piece with the same color scheme. In fact, this is a great way to learn about color, and develop your personal style. Start a collection of color combination samples to refer to — either on Pinterest, by snapping pics with your phone, or pulling images out of magazines. Don’t limit yourself to jewelry–you can copy a color scheme from a completely different source, such as an item of clothing, a home decor magazine, or landscape photograph. If you want to be super organized, take some of them to the paint store and get color chips for your favorite combos. Pull up your color samples on your phone when you are shopping for beads, so you can be sure to buy coordinating supplies when you fall in love with a bead.


Analyze pieces that work.

Go to Pinterest and search just for “blue necklace“. Look at all the different ways people have made necklaces that feature the color blue. Look at the main beads they use, and the secondary beads. Use your emotional sense to “feel” the color of each piece–to take in the color on an emotional level. This is something we all do unconsciously–you are just bringing that information into your consciousness. Look at the metal colors – how does silver feel different with blue than gold? How does each piece achieve contrast? Now do the same with other colors – red, green, purple, orange, yellow, pink, brown. Finally, search for “multicolor necklace“. How does each piece attain cohesion and balance? Often the answers to these questions are in other aspects of design – shape, size, positioning, texture, etc. Color is not an independent factor–examine how it is used in relation to these other elements.



The best way to learn is to make a lot of pieces to try color combinations for yourself. It’s fairly easy to take apart jewelry and re-use the beads if you don’t turn out to like what you made. Before launching into a complex project or using expensive materials, try making a mock-up with cheaper materials (like base metal wire instead of sterling silver wire). That way you can experiment as much as you want to create something spectacular.
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