Anatomy of a Necklace: The Yoke
A necklace, or any type of jewelry, has a structure and anatomy. Each part has its own set of purposes, functions and aesthetics. Understanding each type of structure or physical part is important to the designer.
Let’s focus on one part today – The Yoke. The Yoke is one section of the Strap which is the part around the back of the neck, including the Clasp Assembly.
To what extent, during your design process, do you divide your necklace into its anatomical parts, in order to have more strategic control over its design?
In an average necklace, how long should the Yoke be? What proportional length relative to the rest of the strap should this be?
How do you determine the design and placement of beads or connectors along the Yoke, given that most of it would either not be particularly visible, or not often-visible when worn?
The Yoke continues into the section of the Strap called the Frame. There are always transitional issues here? Do you have any strategies for managing these transitions? When your piece moves from Yoke to Frame, do you find yourself doing anything special at this point?
Do you prefer your Yoke to be visually distinct from the Frame? Or more organically connected, perhaps not distinguished at all?
Do you use any special visual cues to signal to the viewer that the piece is moving from Yoke to Frame – placement of special connector? Or change in bead size? Or change in Color? Or Pattern? How do you know where to place these visual cues?
To what extent should the Yoke be integral to the design of the whole piece, or, on the other hand, be supplemental to the whole piece?
Too often, when the designer does not recognize the Yoke as distinct from the Frame – even if the transition is to be very subtle – less-than-satisfying things happen. Proportions may be off. The piece may not lay or sit as envisioned. The strap may have too much embellishment going to high up the strap. Sometimes the balance between Yoke and Frame is off – too much Yoke and not enough Frame.
So, what do you think? What do you do? What things can be done?
To summarize the anatomy of a necklace:
We can envision the Anatomy of the Necklace to include these parts:
Yoke: Part around the neck. Typically 6-7”, including the clasp assembly
Clasp Assembly: Part of the Yoke. This includes all the pieces it takes, including a clasp, in order to attach your beadwork to your clasp.
Break: Transition from Yoke to Frame, usually at the collar bone on either side of the neck.
Frame: The “line” seen on the front of the wearer, demarcating a “silhouette,” and connecting to the Yoke on each side, at the Break. On a 16” necklace, this would typically be around 9-10” long.
Bi-Furcated Frame: A Frame visually split in half, usually at the center and in two equal parts, with a centerpiece focal bead or pendant drop in the center.
Focal Point: While not every necklace has a focal point, most do. The Focal Point gives the viewer’s eye a place to rest or focus. Sometimes this is done with a centerpiece pendant. Can also be created by graduating the sizes of beads or playing with color or playing with fringe.
Centerpiece: A part that extends beyond the line of the Frame, usually below it. Forces transitional concerns between it and the Frame.
Centerpiece with Bail: A part that drops the Centerpiece below the Frame, forcing additional transitional concerns among Centerpiece, Bail and Frame.
Strap: A word summarizing the full connectivity of the Clasp Assembly, Yoke and Frame.
Canvas: Typically refers to the stringing materials. However, in a layered piece, may refer to any created “background” off of which or around which the main composition is built.
Embellishment: Things like fringe, edging, surface decoration.
Each part of the body of a necklace poses its own special design challenges for the jewelry artist. These involved strategies for resolving such issues as:
– making connections
– determining angularity, curvature, and roundedness
– transitioning color, pattern and texture
– placing objects
– extending lengths
– adding extensions
– creating balance and coherency
– keeping things organic, so nothing looks like an afterthought, or an outlier, or something designed by a committee
– determining which parts or critical to understanding the piece of jewelry as art, and which parts are merely supplemental to the piece.