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Jewelry designed in a Southwestern style has a distinctive look that almost anyone will recognize immediately. Creating your own jewelry in these styles is as simple as studying the quintessential materials, shapes and other characteristics that make this kind of jewelry what it is. So suit up, cowgirls and cowboys, and get your creative self in gear to design your own Southwestern jewelry creations.
Choose your stones. Southwestern jewelry typically favors stones that are opaque and have colors in the blue-green, yellow or reddish ranges. Turquoise is the biggie, but you can also find a lot of jewelry made with howlite, a white stone with gray veins that's often dyed, or rocks like chrysophrase and jasper. Really, though, you can use any kind of stone you want if the rest of the jewelry's shape has a strongly southwestern design to it.
Decide what types of metals and fixtures you want to use. Silver is the most common and famous, but if you're looking for something a little more unusual than the classic antiqued silver, spice things up with copper, another common fixture, or even brass. The type of metal doesn't matter as much as the shape. Design with southwestern stamped, black-antiqued textures.
Study some of the most common shapes in southwestern jewelry designs. Images and shapes that scream "Southwest" include Native American-inspired geometric patterns and simple shapes of animals and plants. Check out online or book indexes of these kinds of symbols to help get the jewelry muses speaking to you as you design.
Integrate beading designs. Plan to use string beading, either on the cord of the necklace or in dangly bits hanging from the pendant (these can also double as kitty toys). Think big, chunky stone beads, as they're quite popular in this style of jewelry.
Plan the structure of your jewelry. Southwestern jewelry styles tend a bit on the heavy side. You will want to use strong beading cord, like monofilament, and thick jump rings, or even double rings in places where something heavy needs to be held up.
Sketch the complete concept drawing of your jewelry. Don't sweat it if you don't think you can draw; just make a basic outline of the shapes. The important thing is that you know what you meant so you can use the drawing to help you purchase the pieces you need and help put together your design.