Easily Explore a Year of Jewelry Design

Merle White
is editor-in-chief
of Lapidary Journal

Jewelry Artist

When I read Lexi Erickson's September 24 post on Jewelry Making Daily about the five principles of jewelry design, I immediately thought about a pair of exercises we featured in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist

Michael Boyd's complex cuff bracelet design
uses simple repetition of form and mostly
complementary colors. Photo: Jim Lawson

that demonstrated how to put those elements and principles into practice. I wanted to look at the demos again because they'd made it obvious how you could create really interesting designs with very common shapes. Now all I had to do was find the right issue.

That Amazing Cuff Bracelet
At least I knew that jewelry designer and lapidary Michael Boyd had adapted the demos from a workshop he teaches, and that they'd appeared "recently," although for me that's a term that could cover the last decade as easily as the last week. Then I got lucky and happened to pick up the issue from September 2008 with his amazing cuff on the cover and realized that was the issue I was after. 


Form. Vary. Repeat.
Sure enough, I found his "Variations on Form in Metal."  He chose the ellipse as his form and, with a jeweler's saw and some silver sheet, cut out many differently sized pieces in this classic shape, gave them lots of textures and finishes with some basic jeweler's tools, and then played with the pieces until he was happy with what he saw. Voilà! He'd produced several designs for handmade silver jewelry: a bracelet design, an earring design, and one design for a pin that could also be used for a pendan—tall different, all attractive, and all made with nothing but a handful of silver ellipses.

One shape, many variations, and many jewelry designs by Michael Boyd.







For jewelry designers, colored stones are
one of the best sources of color.
Photo: Jim Lawson

Colors That Harmonize or Contrast
Next, I found the companion discussion, "Stone/Color as Design Medium." Here Michael describes the relationships among colors, how cabochons and faceted gemstones can be used as an element of color in jewelry design, and how color can be combined with form. Of course it helps if, like Michael, you're into stone cutting, because then you can design your own stones the same way you can design your own metal components. He even shows you how to heat certain rough gems to enhance their colors to give you an even greater palette.



Married Metals Pin by Brian Meek
Photo: Jim Lawson

The Design Issue
September being Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist's annual Design Issue, I started leafing through the rest of it. I saw how the Married Metals Pin project also repeated elements, noting the parallel spokes and folds in the silver fan and the repeated brass and copper leaves and flowers rippling across it. I saw how sculptor Alexander Calder's wire-wrapped jewelry incorporated those principles and elements in his design, and then how the winners of that year's Jewelry Arts Awards did, too. Before I knew it, I was yanking issues from the entire year of 2008 off the shelf and checking all the pictures out to analyze how the handcrafted jewelry I liked best had put those ideas into place.



Helen Driggs's Fold Formed Bronze Brooch
Photo: Jim Lawson

Different Metals, Same Principles

Marie Scarpa won Best of Competition in the
2008 Jewelry Arts Awards for her Nautillesque
pendant, a striking piece of woven wire jewelry
that repeats a pearl and spoke motif forty-six
times. Photo: Hap Sakwa

The Fold Formed Bronze Brooch project from July 2008 not only walks you step by step through a terrific metalsmithing technique, but the folds and stippled texture provide repetition and variation while the pale, matte turquoise cabochon provides one area of contrasting color and finish to the rich browns of the lustrous bronze.


Easy to Browse
From the simple Metal Clay Ring with Stone project in January through the feature on five outstanding educational programs in December, every issue is full of innovative designs, detailed jewelry-making instructions and techniques, lapidary and jewelry projects, tools, materials, and more. Even better, you won't have to hunt for all your back issues or fret that you're missing some because the entire year's worth of issues will soon be available all on one convenient CD. Better still, you can place your order for the Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist 2008 Collection CD online right now.


The split shank in Kim Otterbein's silver clay
ring provides both grace and strength by
doubling a functional design element.

The garnet crystals and gold branch ring is
by Klaus Bürgel, a frequent instructor at New
York's 92nd Street Y. Photo: Jim Lawson

Share Your Favorites
What's your favorite design from 2008? Upload images in the Jewelry Making Daily members gallery and tell us in the forums what you like or share other ideas about how to create good designs.




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