Updated: Jan 8
If you have a sketch or concept for a jewellery design you want to make, here are some time saving tips to help you get an idea of how the finished item will look before starting the actual making jewellery making process.
From Concept to Design
Making a model out of thick paper is a useful way of seeing how components fit together and you can see how your design sketch translates into 3 dimensional shape and what the scale will be.
Modelling in paper can be a tricky process if your item is small but an hour or two now will save lots of time later on if you have to make adjustments later during the production process. Just use basic shapes without detail at this stage.
I recommend using artists watercolour paper which is strong enough to manipulate and masking tape to secure joints so that you can re-position components easily and mark with a pencil if need be. An artist’s watercolour sketch book with about 20 sheets is relatively inexpensive.
Make the model in the size you intend the finished item to be
At this stage it’s easy to see if it’s too big or small and you can re-model the template, sculpting with scissors and/or making new pieces until you are completely happy. Small curved nail scissors are very useful.
At this stage you can also consider how your ideas for fittings might work, and decide if they will fit where you intend to put them.
How will it look worn
Make a small hole in your template and add a jump ring to hang a pendant or drop earrings fixing or double sided sticky tape can be used to attach a stud earrings or brooch to yourself. Consider the scale and weight of the item, you need it to be wearable. If the model doesn’t hang right then the heavier final jewellery piece made in metal will be even heavier.
Transfer your design onto sheet metal
I always make two 3D models, one for reference during the making process and one you can take apart and use as a flat (2D) templates. Flatten one of your templates and use this as a guide to draw around with a soft pencil on the surface of the flat sheet metal that you intend to make your piece of jewellery out of.
Alternatively you can replicate the shape in tracing paper and temporarily stick this with a pritt stick to the metal to cut around. If you do this, after cutting out remove the tracing paper and make sure you remove all trace of the glue with acetone (Nail Varnish remover) otherwise this will cause problems when soldering.
Make sure you cut around the shape accurately to the template and use a piercing saw otherwise snips will produce a flute around the edge of the metal which will distort your final component pieces. Filing to shape is never an easy or quick fix.
Now you have created a fixed idea of how your finished design will look in terms of scale and you can begin making it with confidence.
BLOG - About the author
Dawn Meaden-Johnson is the Director and Founder of The Bespoke Jewellery Training Company. She has 25 years’ experience working in the Jewellery Industry including at Signet Retail Jewellers and almost 10 Years at Birmingham City University School of Jewellery during which time she has worked extensively with national and international clients whilst managing their Short Course Programme Project.
A graduate Silversmith of Birmingham School of Jewellery, Dawn still occasionally creates limited edition contemporary jewellery under the brand Dawnstorm, specialising in the use of anodised aluminium in jewellery.
Email Dawn at firstname.lastname@example.org