How to Design Jewelry That Will Sell
#BusinessSaturday: An interview with Anne Potter, jewelry artist and author of Global Style Jewelry.
Q: When you set out to design jewelry, what factors do you consider as you are starting a new piece?
A: I like to make wearable pieces that are beautiful and interesting, featuring new elements or new styles. And I like to keep an eye on current trends.
Q: How do you keep tabs on jewelry trends?
A: By selling on Etsy, I see a high volume of trendy designs and cutting-edge designers every day. It feels like Fashion Week every week! The wares and styles on Etsy are so dynamic that they really force me to be conscious of my own design direction. I also subscribe to catalogs–jewelry, clothing, home furnishings–that jostle my design view.
Q: Do you have other tips for designing trend-relevant jewelry?
A: Keep an eye on the trends, but always stay true to your own style. With new trends, I think it’s smart to thoughtfully incorporate a new style in a way that won’t undermine your look; your long-term style should weather trends gracefully.
Q: You strike a balance between innovation and wearability in your designs.
Are there strategies you use to find this middle ground?
A: In the beginning of the design process, I focus on the arty elements of a piece: color, contrast, materials, and composition. But after creating the vision for the piece, I temper my design with practicality, adjusting the weight of the piece, any unrealistic asymmetry, even the noise level of a clanging charm bracelet! I think it’s really important that a woman’s jewelry work in the real world (and still look good!).
Q: Tell us about how you choose your materials.
A: I start with interesting materials that have character: exotic wood, Catholic charms, upcycled finds, imperfect glass, artisanal beads, and ethnic elements. Then, I look to simple, less-expensive elements to fill out a piece: cornerless cube beads, Indian brass spacers, sandalwood rounds, and simple stone nuggets. These lesser-impact “fillers” give the higher impact elements a chance to stand out. And by using some cheaper materials along with the primo beads, I don’t have to compromise style for budget.
Q: Many of your pieces are one-of-a-kind. Is this a deliberate business move?
A: Yes! At one point, I realized that I was making pieces for my shop with a “mass-produced handmade” attitude, and what I got was a shop that could have been anybody’s. So I made the deliberate move toward one-of-a-kind. It’s not practical, but that’s not what a beautiful piece is all about. I want to make jewelry as a personal artistic expression, and handmade buyers crave unique pieces. In the end, a handmade piece should have two things: style and soul.
Photos courtesy of Anne Potter
Get Global Style and more on selling your handmade jewelry