Contemporary Jewelry Designer - Designs handcrafted  by Studio Jeweler Goldsmith S.E. Sarantos

Jewelry Designer - Goldsmith - Artist - Studio Jeweler

Rendering art jewelry designs

18 Karat spiral earrings with baroque pearls Coral - 18 Karat  yellow gold necklace with pearls

My fascination with jewelry rendering started with a workshop by Sharon Church in 1988 during the Society of North American Goldsmith's conference at Skidmore College. She taught pencil sketching and watercolour with gouache techniques. Sharon recommended a class at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City taught by Sandra Boucher(formerly designer for Tiffany and Harry Winston) which meant traveling once a week from Newport to New York for two years. Sandra then suggested I study with Omar Torres who was also at that time the top designer of Bulgari (previously of Van Cleef & Arpels).

The following are rendering techniques that I use which are a combination of influences from Sharon Church, Sandra Boucher, Omar Torres, Fulco di Verdura, Jean Schlumberger, Suzanne Belperron, Rene Boivin, Paul Flato and Renaissance painters everywhere.

Basic Materials

Strathmore 300 series sketch pad
Koh-I-noor technigraph pencil and sharpener
Berol Turquoise Eagle drawing leads #2H
Staedtler-Mars Plastic Eraser
Ruler (transparent millimeter and inch style)
Canson # 90 Heavy weight Vidalon tracing paper (vellum)
Berol Prismacolour metallic silver pencil
Canson Mi-Teintes Pastel Paper (Black)
Palette tray (porcelain works best)
Brushes (white nylon sable #00,0,1,2,3)


Winsor Newton Designers Gouache - Permanent White, Ivory Black, Yellow Ochre, Golden Yellow, Burnt Umber, Lemon Yellow

Winsor Newton Artists' Watercolor - Neutral Tint, Alizarin Crimson, Prussian Blue, Winsor Emerald, Mauve
Pan watercolor sets are helpful to achieve other gemstone colors

Templates come in a variety of patterns. Circles, ovals, squares, rectangles and triangles all come in graduated sizes.
Berol and Staedtler-Mars produce a great selection of them. Rio Grande has a jewelry design template with assorted gemshapes and sizes. Create your own patterns from heavy paper.

To encourage a creative mode you will need:

No doubts or fears (banish guilt and financial worry)
Organization (clean the studio)
Everything in front of you

Create a scrapbook of design examples
Clip photos of different gems, beads and pearls for color clues. Chain and jewelry pictures help with highlights. Old portrait paintings are great for studying jewelry rendering techniques. Queen Elizabeth loved pearls and even the children were adorned with gold and gemstudded finery. A still life of a sumptuous feast will provide splendid examples of beautiful rendered holloware.

Always save a record of your basic sketches, scribbles and inspirations. History repeats itself as you will see if you save ideas over the years.

Transferring the design

Draw the design onto the vellum. Turn this over and rub the reverse of the pattern with the metallic silver pencil.
If you place this on your sketch pad and tape it with masking tape so that it won't move while you do this, you will end up with a perfect reverse of your design.
Take the vellum design and place it silver side down onto the smooth side of the Canson (black) paper.
Center the design then tape with masking tape. Carefully retrace your design. Remove the tape slowly otherwise it rips the paper fibers.
Now you are ready to paint.

Preparing to paint

Use purified or distilled water the paint will flow better.
Premix your paint in the porcelain palette.
If you keep this dust free it will be ready anytime that you need it.
Paper towel or napkin to blot the paintbrush.


Silver or Platinum

base is permanent white and neutral tint
highlight is permanent white
shadow is permanent white and neutral tint (darker than the base)
outline edges with neutral tint

Yellow gold

base is yellow ochre
highlight is golden yellow and permanent white 50/50
ultra highlight is lemon yellow and permanent white.
shadow is burnt umber.

Rose gold - apply a light wash of red watercolor over the yellow

Green gold - apply a wash of green watercolor over the yellow

When applying the wash use a very thinned out watercolor and a light touch with an almost dry brush so that you don't smear previous work.


When you finish rendering the design, paint a shadow behind the jewelry with ivory black. Make sure that you keep the paint consistent otherwise it will look uneven. If you decide to use another color paper use a watered down neutral tint instead of the ivory black for the shadow. This will blend better.

This article was written by Susan Sarantos ©1999 in the hopes of encouraging others to render jewelry designs with watercolor and gouache.

Kleinodienbuch der Herzogin Anna von Bayern - amazing book with examples of renderings from the Digital Library Department of the Bavarian State Library

Books on Jewelry Design Rendering:

The Art of Jewelry Design The Art of Jewelry Design - Maurice P. Galli, Dominique Rivière, Fan fan Li

Creative Variations in Jewelry Design Creative Variations in Jewelry Design - Maurice P. Galli, Dominique Rivière, Fan fan Li

Designing Jewelry Designing Jewelry - Maurice P. Galli, Dominique Rivière, Fan fan Li

Techniques of Jewelry Illustration and Color Rendering - Adolfo Mattiello

Design styles:

beads, bracelets, chain, cufflinks, amulets, necklace, rings, tiara, ethnic jewellery


All images, designs and information contained within this website copyright Susan Sarantos unless otherwise noted
Original Modern Contemporary Jewelry Designs Created by Independent Studio Jeweler Goldsmith S.E. Sarantos ™
Newport Rhode Island USA 02840