Designing Jewelry - From Idea to Existence

Designing Jewelry - Coming together of Art and Science

Among suggestions from visitors and fans, one that I hear really loud and clear are related to jewelry designing. Many readers ask questions like, how a jewelry designer derives ideas before drawing a piece, her source of inspiration, how a real jewelry piece comes to life starting its journey from a drawing on paper, etc.

So, I thought why not write an article with a brief outline based on my experience and knowledge in this field. However, note that jewelry designing and making is not something that can be covered in just one post.

It's a vast subject and a single article will not do the full justice with it. Nonetheless, with the basic overview you should get an idea of working methodology of a jewelry designer.

Inspiration and Ideas behind Designing Jewelry

Just like any creative artist, a jewelry designer is always open to any source of inspiration. It can be nature, surrounding, stylish detailing in architecture, beauty of past era or anything and everything around her. It can be even experiences of life articulated in designs.

There are no limits and it's all about exploring your creativity - even from songs and poetry - and producing an abstract design. A jewelry designer with her heart and inspiration can produce a beauty out of any act or object. I at times take inspiration from my art works too. You can have look at my Indian folk art - Madhubani paintings.

Many designers have inclination towards and are devoted to a particular style of jewelry, like classic, contemporary, fusion, lively colors and generate ideas based on those themes. They have their own signature style that is easily noticeable in their work.

If you ask my personal choice then it's the nature and my surroundings that inspire me the most. Observing antique jewelry and old architecture stimulates me with new ideas and concepts. 'Contemporary vintage' – contemporary look with a classic feel – is the way I like to describe my jewelry. For me, it’s about creating fusion jewellery, i.e. blending traditional motifs and detailing with contemporary settings and finishing.

My Design - Peacock Pendant

How to design jewelry?

The process of designing jewelry starts with first visualizing the concept and sketching it on paper. It can be done manually on paper or with the aid of CAD (Computer Aided Design) software. However, my personal preference is hand-made sketching as it gives me freedom to draw my thoughts without any constraints. You may go to my design gallery to have a look at some latest samples of my work.

OK before we move further, you must first understand that designing jewelry is not just an art. In fact, it's the mix of art and science. Why? Because while drawing a piece out of imagination is no doubt an art, understanding its feasibility (both technical and economic) to be converted into a real jewelry is no less than science.

So, don't assume that a jewelry design is just a piece of imaginative drawing on paper. A jewelry designer has to give equal importance to the technique and practicability, i.e. whether the design can be actually fabricated into a jewelry and how cost-effective will it be to manufacture it.

Subsequently, once the design work is finished, it is shown to the client to get the final approval for actual fabrication work. Remember that client approval is must at this point. Otherwise, rework at later stage (after final jewelry is ready) can be quite a costly affair.

Therefore, it's always advisable to fully understand the client's requirement in the design phase itself and then start the actual jewelry making process. If client is not satisfied and wants some modifications, then based on budget further tweaking is done. Finally, once the client is content with the design in terms of aesthetics and cost, the job of the craftsman starts.

My Design Sketch with Finished Jewelry

My Design Sketch with Finished Jewelry

Fabricating Jewelry

According to the design, first the stones are selected. At this stage, it is important to mention that one has to be very careful about the exact dimensions of the stones. Then the metal skeletal framework (ghaat in Hindi) onto which the stones are to be set is created.

(top) placement of stones conforming to design; (bottom) metal frame on which stones will be set

Next step involves the process of setting the stones. It's a time-consuming process that involves manual setting of each stone in respective slots. And the last stage comprises of finishing touch to the jewelry and making it ready for sale.

(top) manual setting of stones; (bottom) finished piece

Jewelry Design Tips

Finally, if you are a rookie designer or looking forward to build your career in jewelry designing, my advice will be to gain thorough knowledge of basic technicalities of jewelry making too. This is because until and unless you are not aware of jewelry making process, you may not find it easy to create designs that are practically viable. You may read more on jewelry designing ideas and tips.

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