Considering ideas for DIY earrings?

There’s a LOT more to ponder than you may realize.  Here’s what you need to know:

Visually frame the face with your design…

A “pair” of earrings should be a symmetrical set or at least have a cohesive balance.  Many people don’t think about it, but a pair of earrings is a lot like bookends.  So, what does this mean for you as a jewelry maker? 

Let’s start by talking about balance as it relates to designing earrings …

Design elements, including the lack of elements, should have a cohesive plan.  Well balanced designs allow the eye to move throughout the set as opposed to one area stealing the spotlight.  But, when we’re thinking about earrings, the goal is to adorn and help frame the face. 

The second design principle I want to discuss is symmetry …

If you draw a line down the center, a symmetrical design is an equal mirror image on either side.  Regarding earrings, we want the set to be symmetrical. 

What does all this mean?  Let’s explore some various scenarios …

Symmetrical components – just make 2

If the components you are using to make your earrings are individually symmetrical, then you can simply make 2 of the same and you’ll have a fabulously matched pair.

When using a symmetrical component to make earrings, just make two of the same for a matched pair

Asymmetrical components – make mirror images

If the components you are making feature an asymmetrical design – like angled lines or an asymmetrical shape, you’ll want to make mirror images to create a symmetrical pair.  Otherwise, you allow the eye to flow in one side and then out the other.  It will almost look like you are blowing in the wind, although you may not be able to pinpoint why without your attention called to this concept.  Typically, you want to draw the attention toward the face or away from it on both sides.

Complementary earrings – still need cohesive balance

Complementary earrings are quite popular these days.  The key here for good design is balance.  This is more of a vague concept and open to interpretation, but it holds true that the use of elements (or lack of elements) should have a cohesive plan inclusive of the pair of earrings as opposed to thinking of them individually.  This could be a simple as taking 2 of the same components and rotating one 180 degrees.

When making earrings with an asymmetrical component, make mirror images or rotate the component for a complementary earring design

Earrings are like hanging sculptures viewed from many angles. 

  • When facing a person wearing earrings you typically see the earrings at a slight angle (although it depends on the persons ear lobes).
  • You see the front of the earring from a profile view of the person (and likely can’t see the other at the same time)
  • You can also see an angle shot from the back if the wearer has short hair or an up-do

So, as you design a pair of earrings, you’ll want to take all these perspectives into account.  For simple earrings, this is no big deal, but as your earring design becomes more 3-dimensional, it’s good to assess your decisions from all these viewpoints.

Consider shape proportions not only for the earrings, but how they relate to the person wearing them.

  • Facial shape –

Does the shape of the earrings complement your facial shape?  If you have a round face, you may want a more linear design for your earrings.  Or if you have a narrow face, you may want a more bulbous design to offer added width.  Likewise, a heart shaped face will often be complemented with a design where the volume is largest at the bottom – like a teardrop shape.  Although you may not have thought of these factors before, you likely wear pieces that flatter you without even realizing why.

  • Jaw line –

Similarly, you don’t want to compete with your jaw line.  Be sure to consider how the earring’s shape interacts with the line of your jaw.  Sometimes this is as simple as choosing the right style ear wires.  Some will drop your dangle below the jaw line and others will hold it up tight near your lobe.  And if you have a prominent angle to your design, this can determine which earring you wear in your left ear and which in your right – as you decide whether your angles should flow with the jaw line or away from it.

  • Distance from lobe to shoulder – this plays a roll in how long you want them

Some of us have a long lean neck offering lots of “real estate” to show off big earrings.  And others simply don’t have that much space from their earlobe to their shoulders.  Therefore, it’s important to understand the size and scale that works for you. 

  • Hair style and color – short hair showcases earrings while longer hair covers them

A short pixie cut or an up-do offer a showcase for fabulous earrings to be the star of the show.  While long hair tends to cover your earrings, which could drive you to choose materials that contrast with your hair color to help them pop.  Or, for mid-range lengths, like a bob, where your hair just covers your ears, you may choose to make earrings that will dangle below your hairline.

I hope you found this article inspiring!

This is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to designing earrings you’ll love to wear.

There are so many factors that come into play when it comes to making great earrings, and so many different types of earring designs.  It can be a lot to take in for a beginner jewelry maker.  So, keep it simple at first.  Save this article to reference in the future and if you haven’t already, sign up for our emails below, so you’ll get notifications when I write informative articles like this one.

If you are a member of the Jewelry Classes with Jen Learning Center, check out the Design your Own Guide: Colorful Patina on Copper to discover how I apply these principles to designing copper earrings with intriguing patina coloration.  This mini course covers other great jewelry design tips as well as providing solid techniques to achieve the ideas you dream up.


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Design Your Own Guide - Colorful Patina on Copper graphic with sample images of the projects from the course

Mini-Course: Design Your Own Guide - Colorful Patina on Copper

Explore variations and methods to use Liver of sulfur to create your own jewelry designs.