Jewelry Color Inspiration from an Unlikely Source

by Maria Hansford.
(The Treasure Chest)

Fruit Punch bracelet by Maria Hansford

As I was born in Italy, on the beautiful Riviera, I always liked vibrant colors. As a child I spent hours coloring and whenever I received as a gift a box of colored pencils I was in heaven!

Another passion of mine was – and still is – reading: I simply love books.

Whenever I come across a book fair or a bookstore I like browsing the non-fiction sections. Time flies and sometimes I come across some “treasures” that give a boost to my inspiration as a jewelry artist.

Smoky Sky necklace by Maria Hansford

Last year I was waiting for my commuter train to go back home from work when I saw at the station a booth selling discounted books.

In the Art Section two small books caught my eye: “Color combinations for the watercolor artist” and “Color combinations for the oil painters”.

They consisted of tables with different color combinations, not just the primary and complementary colors, but different and unusual ones that still pleased the eye!

Dancing Leaves necklace by Maria Hansford

I immediately thought: What a great addition to my collection of inspirational aids!

Being discounted books the price was very reasonable, besides all the new successful jewelry I created being inspired by them, made that a great buy!

Maria Hansford
The Treasure Chest


by: Kathleen Davis

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the color combination in this bracelet. Looks so yummy. And what a great idea to get color schemes from a book on painting. Thanks for sharing.
Kathleen Davis

Yummy is right!
by: Michelle

Kathleen’s right – yummy! They look scrumptious!

Beautiful Color AND Textures
by: knightsparkle

I adore your inspired color combinations, but I also love the way use use shape and texture. Beautiful!

beautiful work
by: Barbara

I second, third and fourth the comments re colour and sheer edible yumminess.

And that art/instruction books are wonderful resources for colour. I extend that to say specific paintings would be good sources of inspiration.


Thank You!
by: Maria Hansford

Thank you for all your kind words!
Yes, I agree, specific paintings can be a great source of inspiration….and even a specific painter.
My favourite is Monet.
I designed a few pieces inspired by his paintigs and named them after those masterpieces.

by: Virginie

This bracelet is absolutely gorgeous. I am jealous, I wish I would have done it myself. It is great to find our inspiration everywhere we look. Thanks for sharing.


Gorgeous #2
by: Sally Vonada

First, what a magnificent bracelet! Gorgeous! Second, we never know where we might find inspiration. Just this morning I was checking my annuities website and found the colors on this site very pleasing. I made note of them in a little notebook I keep with me,since I can’t rely on my memory! I have other similar notes in my little book — the design on the wallpaper in the doctor’s office, a shape on the spine of a hardback book, etc.

Beautiful Jewelry!
by: Cindy C

I LOVE that bracelet! I, too, am jealous and wish I had come up with it myself!

You have such wonderful color “sense” — something that I am lacking. I think I will take your advice and check out painting or art books for color advice. Thanks so much for the tip — I never thought to look there!

All the best to you — keep creating those beauties and you’ll be a raging success in no time at all!

Dancing Leaves
by: SterlingCrystal

Hi Maria,

I know you said you liked vibrant colours, and so do a lot of the other people who have commented, but I’d like to say that I am most drawn to your Dancing Leaves necklace. Even though it has a much more sombre palette, you’ve combined the colours perfectly. I think it is beautiful, and shows how you are able to step outside your own preferences (vibrancy) and still succeed.

Sam Ryder

Color combo
by: Jackie

I love your color combo. A bowl of fruit was my very first thought when I saw your piece. Thanks for sharing.
Jackie Pinheiro

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  • Elena A says:

    Hi Maria,
    I know very well the beautiful riviera where you were born because I don’t live very far, more than a fruit punch your lovely bracelet reminds me of a bunch of beautiful flowers from Sanremo….

    I really like your works and my favourite piece is Sunset Glory, it really makes me think of a riviera’s beach at sunset, warm and delicate color combination, I love it!

  • Roxanne says:

    Just last night I was surfing the net looking for new, inspiring color combinations to go with some awesome Buddha head beads. Then, by coincidence, I stumbled across this page. I too, love the colors you used in that bracelet. Thanks for inspiring me — I’m going to go check out some paintings!

  • Lori says:

    I love to hear inspirational stories like this and everyone who’s creative has their own. Thank you for sharing your inspirations and I plan on using your wonderful ideas…..Have a great day!!!
    Lori from Monroe Ohio

  • Diana Redlin says:

    I have to say colors terrify me!

    But I couldn’t live without them. I was like you Maria. I have kept journals from the 6th grade on. With many, many hours of drawings and colorings.

    And crayons were my favorites.

    I wanted to add that I could spend hours in the hardware store looking and picking out the colored panels of their paint stocks. I then cut them up and throw them in the air…..what fun, and it usually has me finding a color combo that I would never have considered.

    Your jewelry is beautiful and thank you for sharing.

  • Roli says:

    Beautiful bracelet. Looks edible. I have had some issues with coming up with color combinations for my jewelry. But I have come to realise it shouldn’t be so hard with all the beautiful combinations nature offer. Just look around you. And also thanks to jewelers like you who share their source of inspiration

  • Barbara Herndon says:


  • Susan says:

    Just beautiful! I really must check into this more organized way of getting inspired. Many times, my inspiration comes from my messy workstation, with beads or findings finding themselves somehow next to each other. Some of my best works have evolved this way.

  • Rose says:

    Thanks for always sharing with us! You always provide just the right inspiration at just the right time. I love your color combo! I made a similar bracelet with green garnet barrel beads that have many inclusions and mixed it with root beer, amber and lime green drops. I threw in a little tigers eye too. Very different and eyecatching.

  • Janet says:

    Hi Rena,
    I wan to thank you for your rummage idea of a few weeks ago. Some people just like to go things to find a bargain! I found an old wicker small “trunk” on eBay and am looking forward to using it at the upcoming craft show. I love your ideas and books! Thanks again,

  • That is really pretty! I would have never thought to do that. I think my OCD gets in the way. 🙂

  • carole says:

    I love your colorful bracelet. What a great idea,,,I will be on the lookout for discount books!

  • Michele Counihan says:

    Luscious colors and shapes suggesting a fruit salad! I often get stuck in a color-combination rut and turn to a very useful color guidance series called Designer’s Guide to Color. I have #5 which displays 123 pages of combinations such as pale, romantic, tranquil, fruity & juicy!, tropical, strong, vivid, ethnic, warm/hot, cool/cold, chic, elegant, etc. The list and displays are almost endless. Published by Chronicle Books. Possible out of print but fabulous!

  • Margret A says:

    I love your willingness to mix colors that might not always seem to go together. Interesting about the colored pencils. I like to weave bracelets and find myself going to colored pencils from my childhood to draw the designs and test color combos. I also draw inspiration from catalogs where different color blocks, tweeds, and patterns are used in clothing – and the magazines are free, unless I buy something from them :-).

  • zoraida says:

    I love your color combinations, not to mention the beautiful jewelry! I’ve always had problems with color. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • May Olson says:

    I love your story! My maternal Grandparents were from Italy…..Your creations are very lovely and yes you have learned or felt these beautiful colors…Thank you for sharing your talent.

  • Pamela Maring says:

    As I opened the link, the bracelet said “Della Robia”…. Italian, of course… Then came “fruit bowl” … then came “cornucopia” … luscious thoughts of my daughter’s Thanksgiving centerpiece many years ago… and my Italian mother-in-love

  • All are such gorgeous creations – great use of color and texture. Am afraid I would put on that luscious bracelet and not want to take it off!

  • Perfect use of colors ….unexpected and soothing. I’m not afraid of color and I don’t hesitate to combine purple and orange, plus others. I tend to gravitate to opposite ends of the color scale for combos. All the pieces shown above are just beautiful and I love the book inspiration. Very nice work.

  • Rachel says:

    I have difficulty with oranges, Browns and greens as these are not my favorite colors.

    I hate the time it takes to find the right colored bead and crystal combinations, to match a focal piece or just to mix in a project, as my collection has so many beads, crystal and metal colors in my collection, that I originally organized by seperate colors in organizing bins.

    Anyway, I still found it frustrating, because it isn’t just the color of the bead, it is the tone and darkness. So I redid my organization of the regular and large size beads, natural stone, focal pieces and crystal by colors that would go together. (See below for how I organized very small crystals, beads, teardrop or metal beads). The medium and large metal beads I kept in the organizers by metal type. (See below for how I organized the tiny metal spacers and findings.)

    First, I divided into seperate piles all the focal beads/natural stone/crystal etc. containing a pink that I wanted to bring out in the piece of jewelry by bright vs. blingy vs. soft pastel, vs electric vs.fuchsia vs. bold. I threw onto a large table all the baggies of pink colored beads and crystal and, one by one, added them into the piles that would match any of those focal beads. So I may have a pile of four focal items that have pastel pink in them mixed with the pastel pinks beads and crystal. I pulled out blues, greens and purples and sorted them as well into the pink piles. Those that fit no pile I left in their seperate color piles for later mixes when I do the green, blue etc focals.

    I initia put each pile, of now mixed assortments of colors, into seperate organizers for each mix. I thought that would work, but it was still tedious, pulling out each little bag from the organizer to test for the design. So I dumped each organizer set into a sandwich or quarter size ziplock bags. Then I put all of the bags into a gallon ziplock bag. When I was finished, I had project bags that I could grab and all the matching or complimentary colors to choose from were together. Now when I start a new project, I dump the sandwich bag mix on the table and move the little baggies around to choose the ones for this project. This is a lot less overwhelming and easier, emotionally and physically, than sifting through my entire collection and picking and trying different beads every time I start a new project.

    The old way I organized actually kept me from wanting to start a new project. In the course of a week, I had done all the hard, for me, color work for ALL my beads at one time and it is out of the way. Now I can’t wait to start the the next project.
    If I buy more beads, I plop them in the bags of colors with which the new beads etc. work best.

    I did not include black, silver, grey, white, pearl, beige, gold or clear in the color mixes as they are used in all projects. I put the reg sized ones in one ziplock bag and large in the other, and later emptied each bag into two seperate organizer boxes in order from clear, white, pearl, tan, etc all the way to black as they moved across the box. This way I can easily find the right basic bead for my project.

    How I organized my findings: I put the regular and large size metal beads and findings by metal type and size into those organizing twist tubes that come in a holder. So I can grab all the copper ones at one time. Within each tube set I organized metal beads/findings first by type then within that type; first from light to dark and then within the lightness by small to large. For example, the first tube might be light copper jump rings beginning with 3mm, next compartment, 4mm etc The next tube set would be dark/antiqued copper jump rings in order by size. Boy did that help speed up my jewelry making.

    How I organize small beads, crystal, teardrops and spacers: I thank whoever it was on this site that suggested the use of those Tic Tac style seed need containers that come in a case to organize any small items such as small crystals, small teardrops and small metal beads. I was using small plastic bags before and this organizing idea was a big space saver.

  • Janice Gear says:

    To both the longest comment ever, and the absolutely fabulous bracelet!

  • Kirsten George says:

    I want to comment before I read the comments, so I don’t accidentally just repeat someone else’s thoughts. 🙂 I actually don’t usually even leave comments, but I definitely DO read all the good jewelry tips and newsletters that I get in my email. I love and look forward to them! Thanks, Rena!
    When I saw this article it struck me that it’s the first one I’ve read that I’ve seen smilarities with my own personality and style. I’m a Kansas, USA girl, though, a midwest farm girl that grew up in small towns with beautiful sunsets that stretched the horizon. I’ve dreamed of seeing Italy or other far off places.
    Artistry is in my blood, and drawing was part of my life as early as three years old. I see color and ideas for paintings everywhere, and get inspiration for my jewelry from everywhere. My mom was a painter and loved music, playing many different instruments. My dad, also an amateur musician, excelled at photography. I also love, love books, reading at least three a week. I do have a husband and kids, but they know if they see me reading then that’s leave mom alone time. lol.
    What I am so impressed with is the way you’ve taken what you see to use as names for your jewelry! I would never have thought of that! For all my creativity coming up with names is the one thing that stumps me. Every time.
    Anyway, your jewelry is really nice. I love your classic and artistic style. Happy creating!

  • Kirsten, thank you for your lovely comment! It’s wonderful to come from a background of art and beauty, and appreciating their value. (Also, I read about 3 books a week too! 🙂 )

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