ARCHITECTURAL BASICS OF JEWELRY DESIGN: Building In The Necessary Support and Structure

Warren Feld
34 min readApr 22, 2020

ARCHITECTURAL BASICS OF JEWELRY DESIGN:
Building In The Necessary Support and Structure

Abstract Whenever you create a piece of jewelry, it is important to try to anticipate how your choice of materials, techniques and technologies might positively or negatively affect how the piece moves and feels (called Support) when worn and how its components maintain shape and integrity (called Structure). Towards this end, it is important to redefine your techniques and materials in architectural terms. Every jewelry making technique is an applied process (called a Design System) with the end goal of trying to reach some type of equilibrium. That is, steps taken to balance off all the external and internal forces impacting the piece. Achieving this balance means that the piece of jewelry is at its point of least vulnerability. This is where all the materials, techniques and technologies have been leveraged to optimize the four S’s: Strength, Suppleness, Stability and Synergy. I find that most jewelry designers do not learn their techniques with architectural principles in mind. They arrange a set of materials into a composition, and assume its success is solely based on the visual grammar they applied. But if the piece of jewelry doesn’t wear well, feels uncomfortable, gets in a weird position making the wearer look clownish, or breaks or comes apart too easily, the jewelry designer has failed in their mission.

ARCHITECTURAL BASICS OF JEWELRY DESIGN:
Building In The Necessary Support and Structure

Everything boils down to support and structure.

Support is anything about the materials, techniques or technologies used which allow the finished piece to best move, drape and flow while the piece is worn.

Structure is anything about the materials, techniques, or technologies used which allow the finished piece to maintain its shape and integrity while the piece is worn.

Constructing a bracelet or a necklace is really not much different than engineering and building a bridge. Bridges have purpose and functions. Jewelry has purpose and functions. These are very much the same. The jewelry designer needs to anticipate how the piece will purpose and function within a context or situation or environment, as worn.

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Warren Feld

Beading and jewelry making have been wonderful adventures, from custom work, production work, and teaching. *Design is about the ability to make smart choices.