Working with Colors

Published on
October 18, 2021 4:27:29 PM PDT October 18, 2021 4:27:29 PM PDTth, October 18, 2021 4:27:29 PM PDT

Color and Light

People see color differently no matter what, but the following factors also affect the way colors look:
  • The quality of light (natural daylight, incandescent, fluorescent, etc.)
  • The amount of light (low light, bright light)
  • One color's proximity to another color
It's common to create a piece of jewelry under artificial light only to realize later that, under natural sunlight, the colors don't interact the way you anticipated. Because of this, we recommend that you use as much natural light as possible when designing your jewelry.

Trends and Color Forecasting

Want help choosing components and colors for the upcoming season? Then check out fashion color forecasts from Pantone and Swarovski.

Caveat: Don't be a slave to fashion. If the hot trends don't inspire you, then make what you love. Or try to find just one or two colors that appeal to you in the current or upcoming season's palette, and make your own variation.

Color Definitions

  • Primary - Colors that cannot be mixed from any other colors: Red, Yellow, Blue
  • Secondary - Two primary colors mixed together: Orange, Violet, Green
  • Tertiary - One primary and one secondary color mixed together
  • Warm - Reds, oranges and yellows
  • Cool - Greens, blues and violets
  • Hue - Another name for color
  • Tint - Color + White
  • Tone - Color + Gray
  • Shade - Color + Black
  • Intensity/Chroma - Brightness or dullness of a color
  • Value - Lightness or darkness of a color

Color Wheels



  • Red
  • Blue
  • Yellow


  • Orange
  • Violet
  • Green


  • Red-Orange
  • Red-Violet
  • Blue-Violet
  • Blue-Green
  • Yellow-Green
  • Yellow-Orange

Color Charts


Picking the Right Metals for your Piece

Antiqued Brass is darker than raw brass and goes well with just about any color.
Copper is a reddish metal that looks good with silver, gold and gunmetal, even if you mix multiple colors together in one piece of jewelry.
Gold is often paired with warm complimentary earth-tones (amber, tigereye etc) or cooler pastel colors (peridot, amethyst etc). Because the color of "gold" jewelry can range from plated yellow to 14k to a brass-ish yellow, some bright secondary colors can clash (even the yellow plated findings can be difficult to match with other yellow plated items).
Gunmetal is complimented best by primary colors (blue, red etc.), although, because it is basically black, there are not too many colors that clash with it.

Silver is the most versatile metal in regards to color combinations and looks good with every color on the chart (even gold and gunmetal, although some would call the mixing of metals a trend).

More on Metal Colors & Metals