Jewelry Design: Beginner Tips to Fulfill Your Dreams

Updated May 6, 2021
golden bracelets and earrings with pearls

If you are interested in jewelry design, you can create jewelry for family, friends, or profit. Today's jewelry designers have more materials and tools to work with than ever before, and jewelry design can be an inexpensive hobby or a full-time profession. It can be as simple as stringing beads onto a necklace or as intricate as working with metals and gemstones. The choice is yours.

Getting Started With Jewelry Design

There are a few important things you'll want to decide early on, which will determine how you go about seeking training and what skills you'll need to pick up for designing jewelery.

Figure Out an Area of Focus

The first step to designing jewelry is learning how to make the various art forms. There are many techniques for making jewelry. Beading, metalworking, creating settings, working with precious gemstones, enamel jewelry - there are so many choices and materials to work with.

It's best to focus on one type of material or one particular technique at first. Once you've mastered that, you can branch out more easily into other techniques and materials.

Learn About How to Design Jewelry

There are several schools that offer jewelry design courses, including several online schools.

Of course, many jewelry designers are also self-taught, and there are so many books and videos and online courses available to those interested in becoming jewelry designers.

There is no substitute, however, for hands-on experience. Playing with materials and creating pieces, figuring out what works and what doesn't - all of these are invaluable pieces of learning about jewelry making.

Your path will be different depending on your goals. If you want to work for other designers, they usually want to hire people with formal education. If you want to work for yourself, formal education may not be necessary.

Finding inspiration

Like all artists, jewelry designers can find inspiration anywhere, so it's important to always keep your eyes open for possible project ideas. Maybe you'll end up creating an entire line of jewelry inspired by the delicate blooms in your garden, or by the stunning colors of the various birds in your yard.

Wherever you find your inspiration, it's important to always have some way to keep note of it at your fingertips. A notebook works, but this is one of those ways in which a phone might be even better; you can use your camera to capture color and form, and then use a note-taking app to jot down details.

Woman designing jewelry in workshop

Hone Your Craft

There will come a time when your current skill set can't create the items you've been inspired to make. At this point, it ma be time to pick up more techniques and consider formal education, if that's something you're interested in.

In any case, it makes sense to be continually learning how to improve, as well as learning about new techniques you can try in your own work.

Growing Your Jewelry Design Career

There are a few different paths you might take, depending up on your ultimate career goals as a jewelery designer. If you are designing jewelry as a hobby, then obviously you will do whatever brings you joy and makes sense for you. However, those who want to design jewelry as their career might want to consider one of the following options.

Work for a Larger Design Company

If you want to join a design house and work with other designers, this is the path for you. This career track usually requires formal education, knowing how to use design software, and a portfolio developed during your school years to obtain a position as a designer.

Just Jewelry Designs

Perhaps you don't want to make jewelry; you only want to design jewelry. Start with a sketchpad and draw out your ideas. Now, you'll have to find someone to team up with who does want to make jewelry. Your local arts college, library, craft store, or an online group in your area of interest might help you connect with someone.

If you go this route, you'll want to have very clear (preferably written and signed) agreements about how the process will work and how payments or revenue sharing will happen.

Your Own Jewelry Making Business

It's been said to do what you love and the money will follow. If jewelry is your passion, there are many different ways to make money designing jewelry.

  • Many designers sell their products at local craft fairs or flea markets, or work out consignment or wholesaling deals with local shops.
  • Others sell their jewelry online via Etsy, eBay, or other retailers. Going this route will require you to have some technical skill as well as the ability to photograph your jewelry well and write enticing descriptions.
  • Some jewelry makers offer their items at in-home parties, similar to a Tupperware party. The best way to start in this business is to ask a family member or friend to host a party.
  • Many others sell custom jewelry design pieces. In this business, the jewelry maker takes pre-orders and customizes the design to suit each customer's needs. You'll need to develop a strong web presence and brand if you choose to go this route, especially, though that would be useful for any of the paths listed here.

Savvy jewelry designers understand the importance of diversifying and putting their products in multiple markets by combining some of the suggestions above. Although they may place jewelry pieces on eBay, the designer is also willing to take custom orders or attend a nearby craft fair to make additional sales.

Just like any business, if you have a passion for jewelry design, you can make a living. Designers are creative by nature, so keep your mind open to possibilities to sell your pieces and create the best possible jewelry you can.

Choose Your Own Creative Path

Your route to becoming a jewelry designer will ultimately be determined by your end goals. No matter which path you choose, jewelry design is an artistic, creative field that will allow you to share your inspiration with the world.

Jewelry Design: Beginner Tips to Fulfill Your Dreams