Principles of Design

In design CONTRAST is a dynamic principle, contributing excitement, attracting attention and relieving monotony, like a sudden change of scenery on a trip. Contrast is used to show difference and diversity in a jewelry piece by combining elements to create interest.

Contrast in design is an accentuation of the differences between elements in a design. Most people think of contrast only as it applies to colors, but contrast can work with any design element. For example, if you have a group of beads that are all the same size, there is no contrast. But if one is a lot longer or larger than the others, it contrasts with them.

In design contrast creates tension between opposing elements: curved or straight, light or dark, smooth or jagged, big or small, simple or ornate, bright or grayed, warm or cool. Opposites push and pull, energizing the surface and excite the viewer's eye.

Introduce and control contrast to make a spirited jewelry piece. Strong value contrast achieves immediate visual impact. Vitalize a low-intensity color scheme with a sudden burst of pure color or energize simple shapes with a bold, variety of shapes. When our harmonious design is in danger of becoming boring, ad more contrast.

Contrast can be an abrupt, unexpected change in a visual element. Contrast is the use of varied colours, shapes, textures, etc. to heighten the effect of a composition.

Perhaps the most important design principle of all in terms of getting your piece noticed and making it interesting is contrast. This principle states that, when two items on a piece of jewelry are not meant to be the same, make them obviously different.

Contrast is more important to a successful design than perfect balance.

Type of contrasts:

  • contrast of color
    Obviously, the only item on a piece that is a different color will stand out. A single red bead in the middle of a necklace with all black beads immediately draws your attention. It may be centrally located, but it would draw your attention no matter where it was placed on the necklace. This effect diminishes with the number of colors chosen. If you have many elements in many different colors, you lose your contrast. When used sparingly for emphasis, color is an effective means of conveying contrast.

  • contrast of scale
    The largest bead on a necklace can be used to draw attention to it. Vary the size of the design elements to create interest, focal points, and hierarchy.

  • contrast of shape
    The use of a variety of contrasting shapes help to create interest and excite the viewer's eye

  • contrast of value
    Contrasts of value include light to dark, negative to positive, and solid to tint.

For a closer view of any of the following designs just click on the designer's name and you will be taken to their site where you can also check out some of their other creative designs for inspiration.

"All Day Affair" by Vonna Maslanka is a wonderful example of how in design contrast in size, shape, texture, and color adds interest to a simple three strand bracelet.

In this beaded watch bracelet your eye is drawn to the bright lady bug as it contrasts against the green leaves.

The different size and shape of beads in this extraordinary freeform necklace by artsy barb creates tremendous visual texture adding excitement and interest.

"Donna's Birthday" by artsy barb demonstrates how contrast of value, shapes and sizes in the beads adds texture and visual interest.

This necklace by John S. Brana is another example of design contrast in value, shape and size of the beads.

This "Hurricane Amethyst" bracelet by Rose Puskas shows how contrast in scale draws your attention to the beautiful lampwork beads in this stunning bracelet. Original Rose Designs.

Melanie Schow demonstrates a creative use of design contrast in color, shape and texture resulting in an unique and distinctive neck piece.

For more Principles of Design see: Balance, Emphasis, Rhythm, Movement, Harmony, Variety.

For more Elements of Design see: Line, Shape, Space, Texture, Color.

NEW! If you have any questions, comments or tips on designing jewelry join our Making Jewelry Design Forum or show us YOUR uniques designs in Your Jewelry Photo Gallery. Everyone is invited to join in, it's free, it's easy and it's fun!

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