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Using Colour in Jewellery Design

Updated on July 04, 2016
Careful choice of colour can make the difference between an average finished piece of jewellery and a truly stunning one.  The colours in this chain maille bracelet have been chosen to represent the season of autumn.
Careful choice of colour can make the difference between an average finished piece of jewellery and a truly stunning one. The colours in this chain maille bracelet have been chosen to represent the season of autumn. | Source

Colour is an interesting and essential element of any design. The colours chosen and the way they are arranged can have a huge impact on how pleasant a design looks and whether people will like it or not. Colour schemes can be bold and bright to stand out or draw attention to a piece of can be light and more harmonious to create a more calm, subtle and discrete item of jewellery.

Colours can have symbolic and even therapeutic meanings to people. Greens and browns are often associated with nature and the outdoors and blue is often believed to have a calming effect on people. Colours can also be viewed as ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ colours. These can also be used in designs to give a piece of jewellery and certain feel or look. Colour can be used to represent certain aspects of life or feelings such as love, the seasons or celebrations or festivals.

The Colour Wheel

A colour wheel is a very useful tool to use when planning which colours to use together. The colour wheel shows the relationship between different colours and can be used to help you create colour schemes and combinations that will look good together by following some simple rules. Although exact layouts vary and some are more detailed than others, a colour wheel generally shows the primary (red, blue and yellow), secondary (green, purple and orange) and tertiary (combinations of primary and secondary colours) colours.

A detailed colour wheel.
A detailed colour wheel. | Source
A simple two colour scheme such as black and white can produce a striking and pleasant affect.
A simple two colour scheme such as black and white can produce a striking and pleasant affect. | Source

How do you chose colours for your jewellery designs?

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Types of Colour Scheme

There are many different colour schemes that can be created by combining different colours in varying numbers, shades, tints and tones. However, there are some well-known tried and tested schemes that are used in all aspects of design. This can form a great foundation on which to start with and build your knowledge of colours and how they fit together in design.

Analogous colours – This type of colour scheme uses three colours that are next to each other in the colour wheel. These are said to harmonious colours. They are all similar in how they have been created so do not create a bold or striking contrast but are different enough to provide pleasant and subtle variation.

Monochromatic colours – These are tints, shades and tones of the same colour.

Complementary colours – Complementary colours are on opposite sides of the colour wheel. Using these in designs will produce the greatest contrasts. Using complementary colours can produce striking results as the strong contrast helps to bring out the individual colours.

Black and white – The scheme can produce very a very striking or dramatic effect even though only two colours are being used. The contrast between these two colours can help to highlight details in the design.

Triadic colours – The colours for this scheme are chosen by drawing an equilateral triangle on the colour wheel and using the colours at its points. Examples of triadic colour schemes are: using the three primary or secondary colours together in one piece. Generally triadic colour schemes work best when one colour dominates, one is neutral and the third is used as an accent.

Tetradic colours – Colours are chosen for this type of scheme in the same way as for triadic colour schemes but by using a square or rectangle in place of the triangle. A strong contrast can be achieved if one colour dominates the scheme and two are complementary to each other (but not necessarily the other two colours in the scheme).

Harmonious colours – Colours are said to be in harmony with each other when are all from one quarter of the colour wheel. Dividing a colour wheel into four equal sections will show the harmonious colours.

Multi-coloured – Multi-coloured schemes can vary a lot in how successful they are. They can create a beautifully varied look that keeps people looking or appear more like a higgledy piggledy mass of beads with no order, flow or real design.

Colour Variations

Colour – An attribute of an object that results based on the light they reflect.

Tone – Any colour with either black or white added to produce a new more complex colour.

Shade – Any colour that has then had black added to create a deeper and stronger colour.

Tint – Also known as ‘pastel colours’. Any colour that has had white added to create a lighter, soft and soothing colour.

Carefully chosen multi-coloured schemes can result in beautiful and unique pieces of jewellery.
Carefully chosen multi-coloured schemes can result in beautiful and unique pieces of jewellery. | Source

© 2013 Claire

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    • purl3agony profile image

      Donna Herron 3 years ago from USA

      This is a great explanation of color theory that can be used when creating any art form. Voting up and pining!

    • Elderberry Arts profile image
      Author

      Claire 3 years ago from Surrey, Uk

      Thank you for your kind comment. Glad you found it useful.

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