Analysing What Makes a Good Jewellery Design When you have selected a specific piece or collection by your chosen designer, you need to analyse it in detail. These are the things which you need to ask yourself when analysing your piece of jewellery:
Will the target market be able to afford the piece?
Which kinds of occasions might it be worn to? Would it be for everyday wear or would it be for a very special occasion?
What materials is it made of? Is it a clever, innovative use of materials? Does the way that the materials are used or worked with show an incredible amount of skill? Are the materials highly precious? Are the materials recycled?
Is the piece of jewellery practical to wear? Is it outsized or a huge statement? Is it small and delicate, easily worn on a lapel?
Will it be durable or will it easily fall apart with the first use?
Is it safe to wear? Sharp edges could scratch the skin for example, or certain chemicals may have been used. Many people are also allergic to certain metals.
Is it aesthetically pleasing – in other words does it look beautiful and what are the visual elements which make it look beautiful? Does it use certain colours, textures, shapes, curves, pattern, etc.
Can you see where inspiration comes from for the piece? Perhaps, for example, the designer was inspired by forms from nature.
What might the piece of jewellery express about the personality of the person wearing it? For example, might they be glamorous, trendy, sophisticated, stylish, understated, bubbly, fun, etc. ?
Further Reading Jewellery designers are very much artists and craftspeople. The individual who designs the jewellery is usually the person who makes it, though this is not always the case. Much contemporary jewellery is mass- produced. This means that a jewellery designer can also work in the same way as other designers for industry, planning and manufacturing.
There are three general types of jewellery. These are:
Costume jewellery – worn very much as a fashion accessory
Studio or Art jewellery – one off pieces created by the jeweller for a commission
Classic jewellery – made with precious materials such as gold and pearl.
A typical question may involve any of these and will ask you to consider the specific jewellery design issues facing the designer of the piece. The setter will choose the design issues because they are important in the selected example. Sometimes, you will be given a choice between several important design issues.
As with other forms of design, there are key practical issues that you should consider when looking at a piece of jewellery design. Start by thinking that the piece should satisfy some essential criteria and turn these criteria into big questions to ask of the design or designer. Here are some important questions:
Does it function well as a piece of jewellery? This is the first question you should ask yourself when looking at a piece of jewellery. Is it wearable? Is it practical? Is it comfortable? Is it safe?
Function in jewellery is about the wearability of the piece. A simple pearl earring fastened to the ear is an example of wearability. Jewellery is generally worn as a fashion accessory and is therefore intended to enhance other aspects of the look the wearer is trying to achieve.
This is an opportunity to give opinion on the suitability. Is it for everyday wear or is it more of a fashion accessory for a special occasion? Does it tell you something about the type of person who would wear the piece? Is it something which would enhance the image of the wearer?
Is it fit for purpose? It is important to establish how well the piece of jewellery does what it is supposed to do.
In most cases you can compare the jewellery examples in part A questions to things you have already seen. Think of why jewellery is worn, the occasions, events, situations or ceremonies that tell you the purpose of the piece. You can score highly here by giving good reasons. Be sure to explain your opinions, whether positive or negative.
Does it meet all the needs of the person who will wear it? Who are the target users of the piece and how well do you think it meets their needs? Think of different users of jewellery and why they wear what they do. Jewellery is worn at the highest state occasions, at religious events and, by contrast, is worn by young people who want inexpensive mass-produced items for a one-off occasion. Jewellery can also be seen as body adornment.
A film star may wish to create or promote an image of him or her self. A model on the catwalk might have different user requirements. For others, it may be a statement about their personality. Sometimes you will have to think of the user on two fronts. The jewellery piece will probably be worn as a fashion accessory so you will have to consider how well it relates to the rest of the costume or outfit being worn by the user.
Is it well constructed and using appropriate materials? What is the piece made of? Are precious materials used and how well do the materials suit the particular piece? Just as in other areas of design, consumer pull can be important. Jewellery designers are very conscious of fashion and taste and will use style and appearance to appeal to particular users. There is no point in having a brooch or earrings made from heavy materials because they will pull on the wearer and potentially cause harm.
Does it look good? These are factors to do with the look or aesthetics of the piece. How well a piece of jewellery looks is a combination of all the visual elements, craftsmanship and the characteristics of the materials used to make it. Answering this question will include describing the impact of visual elements such as the mood and expression created by colour combinations of different materials and their contribution to the appearance of the piece. At all times you can use these as reasons to explain why the piece functions well and helps to make it appealing to intended users.
The visual elements can help you to evaluate the impact of a particular piece and give you an opportunity to share your personal opinion on it. Personal expression is very much a part of the appeal of jewellery. It helps if you can respond to a piece of jewellery by referring to what it expresses. Lively, glamorous, trendy, exciting, hot, cold, sharp, soft, functional, comfortable, cheerful: all of these can be used to describe the overall expression of the jewellery and give you the opportunity to state strong opinions backed up with solid reasons.