Use Line to Create Meaning in Jewelry Design

Depending on the type of line you use in a jewelry design, its thickness, and direction, you can invest the piece with meaning. It can affect the impact your piece has on viewers and whether they continue to look at your work or walk away.

Two types of line seem to create instant meaning. Straight lines create structure, like those in most architecture. Curved lines, like strokes in brush paintings of bamboo, can replicate the organic, living lines of branches or plant stems. Chances are you’re drawn to one or the other.

But lines can be used to inspire emotions or tell stories, too. For example, lines that create boundaries or borders—as in a bezel or frame—may enclose, separate, divide and invest a piece with a variety of meanings: inside/outside, included/excluded, safety/entrapment.

Jagged lines may indicate agitation, destruction, disharmony, harshness, excitement or energy; they can excite or disturb.

Smooth, curving, flowing lines may indicate speed, harmony, gentleness, calm, serendipity, the ever-changing nature of life. They can soothe or put you to sleep, depending on your temperament.

Closely spaced lines can create tension or a feeling of claustrophobia; space and relaxation, if they are far apart.

Lines can be rigid, creating a feeling of structure and architecture; or implying inflexibility.

Random lines may seem playful, casual, or they may imbue a piece with a feeling of chaos and disorder.

Calligraphic lines may suggest writing and hidden or lost meanings.

Lines can evoke topography or the winding of canyons and rivers.

So much in jewelry can create a line. The quality of that line may be at odds with what you want the piece to say or how you want the viewer to experience the piece. It’s best to be aware of what it’s doing behind your back.

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