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How to Find Sources of Inspiration for Designing Jewellery

Updated on November 19, 2014
Ideas and items all around us can serve as inspiration for jewellery designs.
Ideas and items all around us can serve as inspiration for jewellery designs. | Source

Like many arts and crafts, inspiration for designing and creating beautiful and unique jewellery can be found all around us. Inspiration can be found in the natural world, patterns, shapes, colours and from other people’s work as well as from music, history and cultures from around the world.

Jewellery can be created from such a wide range of different materials the possibilities are virtually endless. However it can be difficult to know where to start, especially for new designers and the vast choice can seem overwhelming.

Sources of Inspiration

Inspiration can be found throughout the world, natural or manmade, beautiful landscapes, flowers, plants, fabrics, foods and animals can all be sources of inspiration for jewellery designs. The finished designs do not have to feature the item in question directly but could be based on colours, shapes, textures or representations of the item. For example, a beach inspired piece of jewellery could include shells, sea glass, blue and yellow beads, beach themed silver or enamelled charms and even small pieces of driftwood. Feathers and other natural items such as stones, seeds and bone can be incorporated into jewellery.

Design ideas and inspiration can be taken from civilisations and cultures of the past and present and even thought of what they may be like in the future. Jewellery could be designed based on artefacts found in ancient civilisations such as those of the ancient Egyptians and Aztecs or inspired by their colour use, beliefs, gods or celebrations. Celtic designs often feature in jewellery and can be particularly intricate and beautiful.

Locations such as beaches can serve as great sources of inspiration in a number of ways.
Locations such as beaches can serve as great sources of inspiration in a number of ways. | Source

Colour can provide inspiration to designers. Colour schemes and themes can be used such as rainbows can be used to create bright and bold jewellery. Various shades and tints can be used of one colour. Colours can also invoke emotions such as happiness or be calming so designs could be based on this aspect as well. A colour wheel is a useful tool for choosing which colours to use together and in creating colour schemes.

Other jewellery and crafts can provide a great amount of inspiration for your own designs. It is important never to directly or too closely copy someone else’s work and to always remember the rules around copyrights and intellectual property. Looking at someone else’s designs can help to spark off your own ideas or show new and interesting ways to use colours, beads or other components together. Using search engines or looking through jewellery making books and magazines can be good starting places. Other magazine and book such as those about fashion can also provide ideas and inspiration.

Current or popular past trends, bands, colour, sporting and other events and fashions can provide a base for design ideas. Very often past popular fashions come back into fashion such as jewellery based on a certain decade or retro style including mod, goth, bohemian or the bright bold colours of the 1980’s. Fashion and women’s magazines can be a good place to find inspiration along these themes. You do not have to restrict yourself to what is popular only in mainstream culture. There are many great lesser known trends such as steampunk, kawaii, kitsch, chibi and cosplay themed or medical awareness jewellery can be very popular in the right circles.

Beads textures and other materials can provide ideas for inspiration or themes for jewellery. Large, chunky wooden leads and leather cords may make you think of men’s jewellery or items you have seen when visiting the beach, for example. Items bought at a particular time or place may bring back memories that influence how you use them in your designs.
Looking at beads in a shop or your bead box, you may get a feel straight away for what ones will look good together.

Other pieces of jewellery can provide inspiration for your own designs but it is important not to directly copy anyone else and stay respectful of other artists and copyright laws.
Other pieces of jewellery can provide inspiration for your own designs but it is important not to directly copy anyone else and stay respectful of other artists and copyright laws. | Source

Keeping an Inspiration Scrapbook or Journal

Having a scrapbook and/or a folder on your computer to keep ideas that you like or inspire you can provide an invaluable resource at a later date. Some examples of how to collect materials for this include:

  • Pictures and photographs can be collected from magazines or photocopies from books and pasted in, maybe with notes or a description of where you found them and the designer.
  • Take photographs or make sketches of your own ideas. Keeping a small notebook and pen with you at all times can ideal for those moments when inspiration hits and you are away from home.
  • Collect pictures of various colour schemes or ones that are unusual or particularly catch your eye.
  • Paint colour charts available free from many DIY shops can help in seeing the many shades and tints of a colour and in planning colour schemes.
  • Don’t be afraid to collect items and pictures that are not related to jewellery. Small cloth or paper samples of colour schemes or patterns you like can be later transformed in jewellery designs.
  • Lists of other designers or techniques you are fond of or would like to learn.
  • Photographs and sketches of your own past designs with notes about variations and whether your ideas worked well or not and why.
  • Lists of items grouped under headings for example: by colour or theme. Your yellow list could contain things such as: sunflowers, custard, chicks, sand, summer, beach and bananas. These lists can then be used to help you come up with design ideas. Themes for your lists could be things such as holidays (Christmas, Halloween, Easter, Thanksgiving etc.), flowers, foods, children, beach and nature and each would list items that you associate with the theme heading.
  • Bead shows will showcase and have for sale a very large variety of beads and other materials. They may also have workshops and talks with other designers and crafts people.
  • Online searches on a topic of interest. For example if you were designing a piece of jewellery, do a search for commonly associated terms and then look through the image results for ideas.
  • Some materials may have additions properties that may affect how they are used in jewellery and learning about this can help create the perfect design in which to incorporate them. One example of this is semiprecious stones which are believed by many people to have healing properties. A stone that is needed to be worn close to the body for long periods would be better suited to a bracelet or short necklace than a long lariat or chunky ring that may not be appropriate to wear in some situations.

Keeping an inspiration notebook can help collect and develop designs and ideas.
Keeping an inspiration notebook can help collect and develop designs and ideas. | Source

© 2013 Claire

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    • Elderberry Arts profile image
      Author

      Claire 4 years ago from Surrey, Uk

      Thank you both. I used to live near a beach and would sometimes find sea glass and would collect shells. Sea glass seems to be more popular in some places than others.

    • carlajbehr profile image

      Carla J Behr 4 years ago from NW PA

      A lot of people near Lake Erie have done the beach glass jewelry, but now there appears to be a shortage. Great inspiration as they may have to find a new idea!!

    • jabelufiroz profile image

      Firoz 4 years ago from India

      Great Inspiration for Designing Jewellery. Voted up.