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GOOD JEWELRY DESIGN: Subjective or Objective?

Posted by learntobead on September 12, 2013

The Result of Subjective or Objective Choices?


QUESTION: Can choices about jewelry design ever be truly objective? Or are they primarily subjective?


Is good jewelry design more a matter of “taste”, or is there some scientific basis which underlies it?


What do you think?


Do you think there are “universal” rules and understandings that good jewelry designers would be wise to adopt, or is each and every designer on their own?





I think, that if we observed and measured the jewelry design process, that much of it is very subjective, that is a matter of personal taste.   Much appreciation of design and color and color combinations seems very subjective.


People have certain social and cultural preset notions about what they prefer.   Some people have a personal preference for browns, others for purples, and so forth.   So people like a lot of fringe; others are minimalists.


Psychologists have found that some people will like a color or combination of colors or design elements if arranged vertically.     If arranged horizontally, they then don’t like them.    And vice versa.  Some people like things, when horizontally arranged, but dislike these same things when vertically arranged.



People respond in very different ways to how design elements and colors, as well as shading, highlighting and tinting, are distributed throughout the piece.    They might like the components, when distributed in a certain way, but dislike the piece, when the components are re-arranged and re-distributed.


Some people get very excited when the colors or elements in their jewelry have very sharp boundaries and clear demarcations.    Others hate this.   They prefer a blurring or blending or smudging up of things.


When confronted with a very monochromatic piece, or one with little rhythm, some people feel relieved, and others bored or anxious.


Some people prefer pieces that exude a lot of power; others prefer their pieces subdued.






As a designer, if things are mostly a matter of personal taste, style, and perspective, it gets more confusing about how to design things.   What kinds of things should be included and which excluded?   What strategies can you employ for choosing and combining colors and design elements?   What things should you learn, if anything at all?


Without proven, universal, objective, grammatical set of rules for using and combining things, how do we design things?   How do we know which things are better, smarter and more satisfying, and which are not?


Yet, as we page through the bead magazines, and click through the various jewelry-themed web-pages, I find that a lot of people agree on what is good, and what isn’t.    On what is satisfying, and what isn’t.  On what works, and what doesn’t.   When there is a lot of agreement, perhaps, there are some universal understandings – OBJECTIVE rules – operating here.   What might these be?


Is Design purely subjective, or can you see some objective framework that may be at play, as well?



What do you think?






Land of Odds (www.landofodds.com)
Warren Feld Jewelry


One Response to “GOOD JEWELRY DESIGN: Subjective or Objective?”

  1. Metamorphi Art Glass said

    An interesting topic! Good jewellery design has two meanings for me. Firstly, it means that the piece was well constructed, planned out well and has been made solidly and will not break easily. Well made and designed pieces I therefore consider “good”. On the other hand, I base what I think of as good on appearances too, what I mean is; does this piece of jewellery hold aesthetic appeal for me? So, from my perspective a good piece of jewellery doesn’t have to appeal to me visually alone for me to think it is good. I can appreciate the talent, time and effort taken to make a piece of jewellery even if I don’t like it enough to wear it.

    Some people don’t like freeform bead necklaces, other’s love the asymmetrical and wild nature. Others prefer symmetry and rigid pattern. It’s such a broad topic, but people like what they like. They will buy things in their favourite colours or if a piece has “wearability” across a range of wardrobe choices. My customers are people who want unique pieces of jewellery that are beautiful. I know that what they think of as beautiful is conventional and symmetrical, so that is what I design for them. For myself… I’ll go the wild and asymmetrical every time.

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