Since I received an iPad, a whole new window to life has opened up. I’m rolling my eyes at my own admission of this. I am not a fan of large corporations, and even less so of hi-tech gadgets that suck out the colour and flavour from life leaving us to live hurried Big Mac existences in a bland and non-communicative world. I’m a jewellery components designer, I not only live for beauty, I love details as well. However, I must admit that the iPad has done wonders for my reading pleasure. I have discovered the joy and enlightenment available to me from reading online articles on my tablet in bed, more specifically, articles featured on Psychology Today’s website.
I recently happened upon an article “A Look at the Hard Truths About Human Nature” by Satoshi Kanazawa and a study performed by Jeffrey M. Valla, Stephen J. Ceci, and Wendy M. Williams, of Cornell University, that shows people can tell criminals and non-criminals apart simply by looking at their photos. It’s an interesting study, and you can take the test as well. I asked my husband look at the photos and guess. He was surprisingly accurate given that he is a computer geek who sits in front of a computer all day and lives in a virtual world.
The reason I mention this study is because it reveals the fact that we humans, no matter how isolated, are programmed for pattern recognition. We are more intelligent than we think, our tastes are preset for many attributes that signal healthiness and desirability, and we are alarmed by patterns that communicate potential danger. So prevalent is this pattern recognition that it exists in every facet of our lives, including jewellery components and jewellery design.
Symmetry in facial features and body physique signals healthiness, it takes the birth mother more energy to create a child with symmetrical facial features. From this, humans have evolved to know that the likelihood of this person having had proper nutrition, hence higher intelligence and being disease-free is much higher, or so scientists have reasoned. Because of this, symmetry is preferred with many things, including jewellery and jewellery components. I’ve always been drawn to asymmetry ( I don’t know what that really says about me or the gene pool that I’ve been swimming in), so I often design pieces and components that are asymmetrical only to find out later those pieces didn’t sell as well. I’ve had one art gallery call me up to ask if I would rework a few pieces to make them symmetrical because all of the other pieces have sold. You just cannot argue with science and taste, even with audience of higher sophistication.
Certain patterns communicate health and nurturing, considered by many to be desirable attributes. I have found that round jewellery components are more popular than square, or triangular, and organic shapes are more pleasing to most people over hard angles, with the exception of the Germans ( but that is a topic for another article altogether). We recognize patterns and are drawn to those that reflect our society’s values positively. There is more to science than empirical analysis. As a jewellery designer, you should remain open to what guidance science can give you. It will benefit you to pay attention to the psychology behind the tastes and motivations of your clientele. An earring is never just an earring, and a bauble can tell you far more about its owner than a one page bio. The jewellery components you choose can open doors and start far more conversations than a cocktail party. Enjoy.