7 Tips for Designing Romantic Victorian Beaded Jewelry
The epic story of Queen Victoria’s life is told in the beautifully crafted period drama PBS series called Victoria, which premiered in 2017. I’m smitten with this series (third season on the way!), with its intriguing storyline, gorgeous costuming, and spectacular scenery! Oh, and the jewelry, of course! And I’ve picked up such a great tip when thinking about designing my own jewelry. Take a look at what was worn during various historical periods. What a great springboard for incredible, elegant, yet wearable beaded jewelry designs!
Lisa Kan’s exquisite book, Bead Romantique, is chock-full of romantic, feminine, and Victorian-inspired beaded jewelry. With this book and the inspiration from Victoria, we are ready to present you with seven tips for designing your own Victorian beaded jewelry.
1. When in Doubt, Add a Little Lace!
Take a look at the lacy medallions that make up the neck strap on the Black Lace Lariat. Lisa looked to the Victorian lacework and Whitby jet mourning necklaces from the time of Queen Victoria’s reign when she designed this stunning piece. The smaller ringlets that lead down to the tassels carry the lace theme throughout the piece as well.
Flapper Inspired Beaded Jewelry
2. Use Chain to Create a Sense of Fluidity and Movement
Lisa designed this to be reminiscent of the hems on the flapper-style dresses of the 1920s. Picture the fringe on their skirts swaying to and fro as the flappers danced the Charleston.
Consider adding chain to your own necklace or earring designs—as you walk, the jewelry moves with you, conveying a sense of liveliness.
Lustrous Beaded Layers
3. Add Textural Interest with a Mix of Shapes and Sizes
An easy way to add interest to your design is to mix up the sizes, colors, shapes, and finishes of the beads you choose. By using different shapes of pearls and graduated mother-of-pearl flower clusters in the Pearl Cascade Necklace, Lisa has added textural and dimensional interest to this classic design!
Find Your Muse
4. Look for Inspiration Everywhere!
Lisa is quick to point out that there are ideas all around! If you haven’t yet started collecting photos of things that inspire you, whether clippings from a magazine or catalog, or your own snapshots of things you come across in your daily life, I suggest you do what Lisa and a host of others in our field do: collect them in a binder. I think it’s so clever that Lisa’s inspiration for the Ndebele Twist Band came while she was browsing through a fashion magazine and discovered an open-toe summer shoe with a twisted wrap on the front.
Informed by the Foundation
5. Let the Components Inspire the Design
Sometimes you’ll pick up a clasp, a bead cap, or other findings that evokes a certain feel. Let that be the foundation, then add various beads to your bead board, moving them around until something clicks. The filigree squares and bead caps in the Bohemian Drop Earrings conjured up impressions of a bygone era for Lisa, which blossomed into the earring design shown here.
The filigree also became a building block for Lisa’s Quatrefoil Nouveau Festoon Necklace.
Beauty and Elegance
6. Give Tribute to Historical Designs
Lisa’s ornate design style is often inspired by various historical periods, proof that it’s quite possible to create jewelry that is beautiful and elegant while giving a nod to historical jewelry designs. One such example is the Medici Rhinestone Necklace, which was inspired by Renaissance paintings of aristocratic ladies adorned with elaborate jewelry.
And the Deco Collar exemplifies the transition of Art Nouveau, with its stylized and flowing lines, to the Art Deco movement, with its structural, linear motifs.
Love What you Do
7. And finally, create from your heart
I absolutely love this quote from Lisa: “If you create from your heart and design what you love, it will show in the finished work.” I imagine that’s true whether you’re a bead artist, a culinary artist, a musician, or a painter! If it comes from your heart, and truly resonates with you, your finished work will truly shine! In her book, Lisa mentions that she loves wearing and making lariats, and it shows in her Triple Spiral Garden Lariat, with its luscious triple spiral rope and delicate lacy leaves! Très jolis!
Have I whet your appetite for romantic Victorian beaded jewelry? Then dig in! Lisa’s Bead Romantique is available in eBook form, just in case you have your eye on a piece (or three!) shown here, or are curious about any of the seven more stunning designs featured in her book!
Debbie Blair, Beadwork editor
Find out more about Lisa in this interview.
Originally posted February 6, 2017. Updated October 23, 2018.