More and Less: 10 Distinctive Jewelry Designs You Can Make

“More is never enough,” a collector once said to me. Judging by my approach to Christmas trees, I’d have to agree. In jewelry, too, my head just swivels toward color and sparkle and lots going on, but at times even I need a break. Here are 10 recent designs from Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist that offer a lot — some in all their glorious detail, and others through the sheer force of their simplicity.

ABOVE: John Heusler’s Lots of Character bolo tie project appeared in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist July/August 2019; photo: Jim Lawson

10 Jewelry Designs to Make

1 Pizzazz Plus

I could spend a long time looking at the detail in John Heusler’s bolo above, and I have. He created the piece as a showcase for a new rhyolite he was mining in Chile, which he calls Red and Green Blanket. The naturally occurring stripes and chevrons do call to mind a blanket plus: those black polka dots on orange at the top make it more like a crazy quilt! And who could miss the dot-like texture of the silver back plate or its crazy cut-out shape?

Closeup of John Heusler’s bolo tips; photo: Jim Lawson

Closeup of John Heusler’s bolo tips; photo: Jim Lawson

P.S. These textured silver, cartoony shaped tips at the ends of the bolo cord just make it even better!

2 Shades of Red
Sun Worship Duo project by Sandra Lupo appeared in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist January/February 2018; photo: Jim Lawson

Sun Worship Duo project by Sandra Lupo appeared in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist January/February 2018; photo: Jim Lawson

Especially at this time of year, I want to bask in the warmth of reds and silvers, and this necklace does it. The cabochon, pearls, and beads range from pale orange to deep red, all set off by lines, curls, and one happy splash of silver. The easy yet elegant pendant hanging from the lively necklace makes a richly detailed pairing, though I could see each design working beautifully on its own, too.

3-4 Colorful Titanium
Take the Long View project by Noël Yovovich appeared in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist March/April 2018; photo: Jim Lawson

Take the Long View project by Noël Yovovich appeared in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist March/April 2019; photo: Jim Lawson

The dazzling colors of this pendant are created by anodizing titanium — a favorite technique of artist Noël Yovovich. They’re just part of the whole scene for this piece. It features as well a silver overlay tree above the background’s surface, and a hinged star sapphire at the bottom of the pendant. Noël has also a created a streamlined version of this design that is less complex but hardly minimalist.

See Both Sides project by Noël Yovovich appeared in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist November/December 2019; photo: Jim Lawson

See Both Sides project by Noël Yovovich appeared in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist November/December 2019; photo: Jim Lawson

For something related that is fairly simple, take a look at these cold-connected earrings. Their anodized titanium petals recurve just enough to display their varying coloration inside and out.

5 What Is That?
Adorn Your Inner Pirate project by Roger Halas appeared in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist September/October 2019; photo: Jim Lawson

Adorn Your Inner Pirate project by Roger Halas appeared in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist September/October 2019; photo: Jim Lawson

On the other hand, or maybe ear, Roger Halas’s earrings are big and bold but with subtleties of their own. Until you look quite close, the disks of nearly black alligator leather barely reveal what color they do have or their telltale texture. The brass rings have their own softly pebbled surface, too. Those rings, by the way, soldered to back plates, function “kind of like setting a stone, only without the hassle of using a bezel pusher,” as Roger puts it.

6 Substantial Surround
Scenic Woods project by Lexi Erickson appeared in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist September/October 2018; photo: Jim Lawson

Scenic Woods project by Lexi Erickson appeared in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist September/October 2018; photo: Jim Lawson

It always works to set an interesting stone in a bezel, and this petrified wood cabochon would look great had it been left at that. But Lexi Erickson chose to give it a generous expanse of smooth, polished silver, too, which gives the piece real substance. Even more interesting is the missing bit of that surround: yes, sometimes less is more.

7 Can’t Miss It
Just Fold It Over project by Bill Fretz appeared in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist July/August 2019; photo: Jim Lawson

Just Fold It Over project by Bill Fretz appeared in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist July/August 2019; photo: Jim Lawson

For a really generous expanse of smooth, polished metal, look no further than this sizable folded disk pendant. It helps that it’s big, that the brass is such a rich golden color, and that it looks so great against the rich blue of the lapis beads holding it. But a static, flat half circle wouldn’t be half this compelling. It’s the subtle shaping and dimensions of the metal, and its tantalizingly open end, that really make the pendant so striking.

8 Simply Exquisite
Dragonfly Cross project by Michael Anthony Cheatham appeared in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist November/December 2019; photo: Jim Lawson

Dragonfly Cross project by Michael Anthony Cheatham appeared in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist November/December 2019; photo: Jim Lawson

Another piece of polished smooth metal that’s been gently sculpted is this dragonfly cross, featured on the cover of the current issue. Its streamlined form looks aerodynamic enough to flit through the air, but don’t be fooled. It’s also 6 gauge sterling wire, and you can sense how solid it feels just by looking at it.

9 Solid with a Twist

Twisted Sterling Cuff project by Travis Ogden appeared in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist November/December 2013; photo: Jim Lawson

Twisted Sterling Cuff project by Travis Ogden appeared in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist November/December 2013; photo: Jim Lawson

Michael Anthony Cheatham’s dragonfly cross makes me think of a couple of other jewelry designs in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist’s past. First is this 8-gauge wire cuff by Travis Ogden. It’s slim and graceful, yet you can see its heft, too. Add to that the pair of wires soldered together at the ends and twisting together at the top — both such simple ideas — and the piece is a real standout.

10 Sparkle and Light
Amethyst Crystal Cross project by Nanz Aalund appeared in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist December 2011; photo: Jim Lawson

Amethyst Crystal Cross project by Nanz Aalund appeared in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist December 2011; photo: Jim Lawson

The other piece the dragonfly cross brings to my mind is this pendant by Nanz Aalund. Here, the intersecting arms of silver create a three-dimensional cross that holds the faceted gemstone in place through tension. It’s a crisp, bright, lively piece that’s both showy and restrained, and absolutely enchants me.

Merle White is Editor-in-Chief of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist.

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