Necklace Design Ideas

Necklace Ideas from Stringing Magazine 

When I flip through a beading magazine, I'm not only looking for beautiful pieces of jewelry, but I'm also looking for ideas and inspiration. What unusual techniques or materials can I adapt for my own designs? It might be a certain color combination, an unusual bead, a design trick, or anything that makes me pause and say, "Wow!"

When I saw the new online projects from Stringing magazine, I thought it'd be fun to move beyond "How pretty!" and see what design ideas I could pluck from several projects. Below are my thoughts–I'd love to know yours!


Summer Bouquet by Nina Cooper

  • More is better: A single satin cord is pretty; multiple strands of cords in bright colors are stunning.
  • Contrasting textures: The smooth satin cords provide contrast against the textured metal pendant.
  • Focus: Don't let the focal point get lost in the clutter. Keep it simple and clean.

Autumn's Last Vine by Pam and Angie Thien

  • Don't follow the crowd: Silver was an overwhelming favorite in a recent poll–choosing a different metal (like rose gold) is one way to stand out.
  • Use an unusual clasp: The clasp literally–and figuratively–holds the necklace together. A beautiful necklace can be ruined by a ho-hum clasp.

Swallow by Sheila Thornton

  • Follow a theme: This necklace contains several "bird" elements–even the labradorite marquise beads echo the idea of wings with their shape.
  • Use neutral colors: I enjoy playing with colors, so the subtle tones of this piece made me take a second look.
  • Start with the focal bead: I have no idea where Sheila started in her design process, but one of the easiest technique for me is to find a fabulous focal bead first (like this one from Anne Choi) and design a necklace around it.

Constellations by Linda Herd

  • Shape it up: Why limit yourself to a typical flat strand of beads?
  • Follow the bead less traveled: While these are technically silver tubes and not bugle beads (bugle beads are glass), the shape is the same. When was the last time you saw a necklace featuring that bead shape?
  • Make it adjustable: By adding extra loops for the toggle clasp, it's possible to adjust this necklace from sixteen inches to twenty. That increases the number of opportunities to show off this necklace!

Antique Jewelry Tip

One of my favorite projects in this issue of Stringing, Bohemian Rhapsody by Denise Yezbak Moore, features an antique brooch as a pedant. She used a wrapped loop on each side of the pendant to attach it to the necklace. She advises:

"You do not need to remove the pin on the back of the brooch. That way, you can keep it in one piece and potentially preserve its value."

I love this idea! I have several ornate pins sitting in my jewelry box. I've seen many places that advise cutting them apart for projects and I just wasn't willing to do that. Now I know I have other options. As a jewelry designer, nothing makes me happier than having more options!

Coming This Week: I'll share tips for the bead embroidery ornament by Amy Clarke Moore, plus Melanie Brooks Lukacs will give us the insider view on how she turns a lump of clay into a beautiful bead.

Michelle Mach is the editor of Beading Daily. She made two necklaces over the weekend. With both, the design tip she followed was this: Just because an element (like a clasp) is traditionally used a certain way does not mean that you need to use it that way!

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