Friday, 30 April 2010

The WireWorkers Guild

The Power &
Importance of


Not only does a jewellery
designer have to deal with
colour. All of us make
colour decisions every day -
we constantly choose items
to wear, purchase, eat ... etc,
all of which colour is a
major factor - therefore, if
we understand a few basic
principles, we will be more
informed of its importance
in our lives and when designing.

The Artist Colour Wheel

It is a very complex subject and theory, however
I shall try and contextualise it to relate to jewellery
design. By having a little understanding of the
physiological and psychological effects of colours,
you will be able to be more informed when
selecting beads and stones.

Since ancient times, all over the world, colour
has been used as a belief that good health
revolves around balance and harmony in both
mind, body and spirit - and we can introduce colour
'energy' into our system at times when we are
"off colour" through our jewellery colour themes.

You've all probably had to paint a colour
wheel at some point in an art class at primary school
(see above) where you learnt about:

colours: Red, Yellow and Blue which are
the base for all colours on the artists colour wheel.

: The colour of
fire and blood.
Associated with
energy, war,
danger, strength,
power, as well as
passion, desire
and love.

: The colour of sunshine. Associated with
joy, happiness, intellect and energy

: The colour
of the sky and sea.
Associated with
depth and stability.
Symbolises trust,
loyalty, wisdom,
intelligence, faith,
truth and heaven.

When you mix the 3 primary colours together, you get:
SECONDARY colours: Orange, Green, Purple.

colours: are the 'in-between' colours
created by mixing one Primary to a Secondary.

COMPLEMENTARY colours: are those directly
opposite each other, such as Red/Green, Blue/Yellow and Orange/Purple.
By placing two complementary colours together you will obtain a much stronger visual resonance.

ANALOGOUS colours: Red/Orange and Blue/Green. These colours match, creating no contrast, but provide a serene harmony.

Tints and shades of colour ... any colour can be lightened by white: this is known as a TINT.
The same colour can be darkened by black, known as a SHADE. For instance, red tinted with white becomes pink, but shaded with black becomes burgundy.

When using colour in design, you can create DEPTH, VOLUME, EMOTION, DISCORD, SYMBOLISM, VIBRATION, VARIETY, HARMONY, WARMTH, COLD, FORM ... once you realise the power of colour you can consciously and tacticly learn to use and appreciate it, rather than use it intuitively.

Walking into a bead shop can be a wonderful experience but also slightly daunting, as the choice of colours on display can be overwhelming! Choosing the right colour combinations and tonal blends can add a visual unity or vibrant impact to your chosen necklace, bracelet, or earring design, which is not only always immediately obvious with shapes, styles and textures.

Looking at the artist colour wheel, you can choose to select WARM tones, starting from yellows, oranges, through to red and violet or COOL tones, starting from blues, turquoise, greens and just dipping into yellow, to create a depth of tone and visual harmony.

It is also important to know about interaction, how colours can take on a different vibrancy when placed next to each other - such as complementary colours (e.g. If you place red beads next to green beads, each contrasting colour will become twice as vibrant and vivid than if either bead where placed next to non-complementary coloured beads ... such as purple (just like red poppies in a green field!).

A triadic colour scheme, which involves using 3 different hues: such as Red, Yellow and Blue, or any of the tones that form a triangle on the colour wheel, will also work well together, suggesting a sense of balance.

Try using discordant colour beads together to provide exciting, eye-catching effects. For instance, yellow, oranges and reds instinctively evoke a feeling of warmth, whilst the cooler blues and green tones are generally associated with quieter more melancholy moods, therefore, by placing a red bead at the centre (or off-centre) on a blue based necklace will make the red bead twice as striking and eye-catching! This can help turn it into more of a focal or feature in your piece.

Blending and repeating different tones and hues of the same colour beads can add depth, structure and harmonious unity to your designs. This use of monochromatic tones will provide a uniformity.

Visualise a charm bracelet
with all the same tones of
blue, and now one with a
mixture and variety of blues ...
the blend of tones will optically
create depth (like shading in a picture)
and volume to the structure.

By looking at Nature we can discover perfect blends in flora and fauna, animals, insects, birds and fish. Look carefully at the wings of a butterfly, tropical fish or spring flower and you will discover perfect colour combinations for your designs!

Another way to gain inspiration for choice of beads, stones and colour schemes for new designs, is to look in your wardrobe and see which colour garments you wear most and then choose beads that will directly match and compliment your personal dress palette. If the colours have already blended well within the fabric design (and you can look at curtain fabrics, carpet colours, wrapping paper, etc... as well!) they will work well together again in a jewellery piece.

The other way of choosing beads or stones for colour is through symbolism. When you are faced with designing a piece for a birthday, anniversary, wedding, etc... you can use the BIRTHSTONE colour to decide on your choice of beads or stones:


(Amethyst) - PURPLE

(Aquamarine) - PALE BLUE

(Diamond/Clear Crystal) - CLEAR/COLOURLESS

(Emerald) - GREEN

(Pearl) - CREAM


(Peridot) - PALE GREEN

(Sapphire) - BLUE

(Opal) - Variegated/Multi-Coloured

(Topaz) - YELLOW

(Turquoise) - BRIGHT BLUE

Imagine your wire is your shape, form and line and your beads or stones, your colour palette and 'paint' a picture with each design you create.

Colour is intrinsic to life. It is a lost language that we can learn!


  1. So much to learn. . . :o)
    Christals Creations

  2. Nothing to learn really, you know it all intuitively already! It just helps to make more informed colour choices when designing your pieces if you have a better awareness of what knowingly blends, so that you can create visual impact!