How to choose colours for your next jewellery-making project

Sometimes I find myself having some limited amount of spare time where the best way to spend it is, of course, beading. But not every time I have any projects ready that I can continue working on, or any particular project I would like to work on right now. I just want to start something new.

Let’s say I have a nice cabochon, a crystal, a pendant, a charm, anything I like and want to use. That’s a good start, so let’s choose the rest of beads to go with it. Oh, wait. I need to choose the right colours too. And at this point, one can become filled with frustration, and quit. I guess every person sometimes struggles with the same issue. Fortunately, there are some beading colour selection tips that can help if you find yourself lost in all those shiny hues, shades and tones.

First, decide how many colours you want to use for your project. Ask yourself these questions to influence your final decision:

  • What kind of jewellery do you want to create? Is it a necklace, a bracelet, or a pair of earrings?
  • For what occasion is this piece of jewellery made? Should it be made in versatile hues for every day casual wear, a bit crazy and colourful for occasional wear, or a shiny piece for some special event?
  • Will I need to purchase a nice piece of clothing that needs matching jewellery? Or do I already have some piece of clothing I can wear it with my project-to-be?
  • Have I already chosen a central cabochon to start with? What colours go with it?
  • Do I have enough beads to finish this project?

Those are only some helpful thoughts that can help guide your decisions. Depending upon how many answers you gathered up until now, you can then choose the number of colours to work with.  You may also want to check out our blog post about keeping up with new bead shapes.


For somebody, the ultimate go-to idea and easiest to work with. For me personally, there is no such thing as one colour. I can’t work with simply one colour, but I can imagine working with different tones, even when talking about black. It is so easy to get lost in today’s huge variety of beads, but it also provides us with great jewellery-making colour options to narrow things down (and still have so much to work with).

Combination of smooth/frosted/matte finish

Surprisingly simple, but varying matte or frosted finishes with smooth or shiny bead ones offers so much potential – that’s the great combo of smooth and frosted surface. It goes especially for black, but works miracles in almost every beading colour combination.

Tone on tone

You have one favourite colour, but so many different shades of beads? Technically, this option shouldn’t be in one colour section since you will be actually working on a monochromatic scale, but who cares, this is your chance to use lots of your favourite beads! However, be careful.  This can be a bit more complicated simply because not every green bead looks great with the other. If you feel helpless, keep it simple, use maximum of five different shades that go well with each other.


Shades of grey and more

If I am in a hurry trying to choose two colours for my project as quickly as I can, I usually go for one “neutral” and a distinctive colour. In other words, the first colour is usually black, white, or grey, the other one can be anything. Then it’s up to you how dominant your neutral colour will be. Are you going to use just a splash or will that colour prevail in your project?

We love metallic finishes

I don’t know how about you, but metallic finishes are my favourite. They are so easy to work with and they look amazing almost every time! Especially the classic “metals” – silver, gold, copper. Then you have brass, nickel, pewter… You can mix just them and you are set! You want to use your favourite colour for your project and want it to stand out? Add some beads in metallic silver or gold finishes and you are all set!


One, two, three?

When two is not enough, and yet you feel like three distinct colours are too much? Meet halfway! Find a complementary colour that is somewhere in between those two and create a visually pleasing transition from one colour to the other. I could write poems about this option!


Use colours of your central piece

Above we discussed choosing a cabochon or other (central focus) material to work with first. All you have to do then is to choose beads to go with it. You can use some of the tricks from above – add black, grey, silver or gold. Those usually work in 90% of cases. Nevertheless, you don’t have to JUST draw upon the colours dictated by your primary design components.

The ultimate hack

Still lost? Or you want to use more colours then just three. Even for such a crisis, I have a solution: it is called HSL model. I won’t bother you with the detailed information (that will require a whole separate blog post), but know that it can be very useful for you. It will help you decide what colour is complementary to your chosen colour. It will also show kinds of colour harmony – you can go with monochromatic, analogous, triadic, tetradic, … You can simply type into Google “interactive colour wheel” or “colour calculator” and you’re set! Choose your colour, then pick the harmony, and the app will show the results to you. Then, it is only up to YOU as to how you will mix it up 😊

Some links at the calculators:

I hope this post has been some help to you – helping you to spend less time pondering over the infinite colour combinations, and more time beading!

-Tereza Drábková
Potomac Bead Company Europe


4 thoughts on “How to choose colours for your next jewellery-making project”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: