7 Tips for Designing Summer Jewelry

The Colors and Textures of Summer

I am so a summer girl. Warm weather means lighter clothing in both color and fabric weight, so I can wear jewelry against my skin instead of around a turtleneck—so many more parts to adorn, from throat and ears, to arms, wrists, ankles and even toes. (I have to admit I can’t get comfy wearing toe rings, but they look great with a nice pedicure!) Fashion fabrics show a perfect palette for the colors of summer—especially blues and greens. I am a green girl all year round, but the greens of summer seduce me because they evoke the ocean.

The textures of summer are alluring too. Take for instance the “Blue Opal Reef” necklace by Julia Watt, featured in our July/August 2009 issue of Step by Step Beads. Julia’s design is clearly inspired the by seas with a most interesting combination of materials, textures, and techniques. She strung and crimped selected lampworked beads with an AB finish that evoke a calm pool, stitched fringes of seed beads that look like sea plants, and used seed beads to string glistening faceted crystal beads with the whimsical silvery charms of a mermaid’s jewelry box. Nothing subtle in Julia’s homage to both sea and season, which tells me she is also a summer girl!

7 Tips for Designing Summer Jewelry

Here are some tips to keep in mind as you design your own breezy beads!

1. Use materials that are comfortable against your skin.  We usually reveal more of it in the summer with open necklines and bare arms. Consider smooth-surfaced beads like resin, stone, pearls, Lucite, round seed beads, and lampwork.  Also avoid components with large, flat areas, as they tend to stick to your skin.

2. Make pieces that lie against clothing, not skin. Longer necklaces with modest clasps make good hot-weather pieces, since they minimize the jewelry that touches your skin. Plus, longer necklaces look wonderful worn with breezy summer fashions like a long tank or T-shirt.

3. Look to nature for color inspiration.  Like fruits and veggies, colors of summer jewelry should be fresh and vibrant. Look at the wealth of summer greens in a single hosta plant, the frothy, creamy naturals in the sand, or the myriad blues and greens of the ocean reflected in the sky. Different oceans have different colors, too. My trips to the Jersey shore yield me a much different palette of blues and greens than, say, a vacation in Barbados!

4. Keep it lightweight.  In the heat of the summer, no one wants to feel anything but airy. Use medium to light stones, beads, and chain gauges. Layer delicate lengths and save that nice chunky brass rollo chain for October.

5. Make open space work for you. Space out your primary beads, linking them between strands of seed beads or loops of small stones, or dangle them from colorful and featherweight titanium jump rings around a lightweight chain. This reduces the weight (visually and virtually) of a piece as well as making it lighter on your budget.
6. Avoid short choker or jewel-length necklaces that rest against your neck unless they’re very delicate. 

7. Have fun with larger earrings! Summer style means open, collarless necklines and pulled up hairdos, so take advantage of your exposed lobes.

What are your favorite summer colors?  What kind of jewelry do you love for summer?  Share your summer design tips

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