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[ Home: Wearable Art: The color wheel for jewelry designers ]
"The color wheel for jewelry designers"
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Author: Cherie, Contributing Editor

Complementary color schemes use a color and the color directly across from it on the color wheel. For example, blue and orange are complementary colors. Combining blue and orange in jewelry or beads can be very beautiful but it also provides a bit of drama because it is a bold color combination. You can use pure hues, or you can use shades and tints. For example, pairing a deep purple with a very pale yellow could be a beautiful combination.
Analogous color schemes are colors that are right next to each other on the color wheel. This could be blue and green and that famous color, teal. This analogous color combination is actually quite harmonious because they are all in one section of the color wheel.
Finally, split-complementary color schemes are probably about as complex as we may want to go with jewelry design, but it can be a very intriguing color combination. This color scheme uses a hue, and two complementary colors. For example, if you choose violet as the hue, then the split-complementary colors would be yellow-green and yellow-orange.
Neutral colors

These colors just canít seem to pick a side! Actually, neutral colors are traditionally black, white and shades or tints of grey. We commonly use these ďcolorsĒ in our jewelry design, too. Black is actually the lack of color. When hue is removed, the result is black. White is the combination of the primary hues. This may sound a little strange, and itís a little complex, but think of it this way: when you have a red light, a yellow light and a blue light shining on the same spot, you see white light. When you remove all light (turn out the lights at night) you see black.

Tan, brown, beige and similar colors have also been considered neutral. Usually, they are simply a shade or tint of a combination of other colors. For example, brown is usually some odd combination of other colors, with one color perhaps being the most dominant, like a violet-brown.
Cool, warm and other feelings

Color can invoke emotions. Cool colors, like blues and greens, tend to create a calm feeling. They can also feel cold and sterile. Cool colors are found in nature in water, the oceans, and the sky. Warm colors, like reds and yellows, convey intensity and warmth. Warm colors are found naturally in flames and the sun. Warm colors can actually look larger than cool colors, so if you pair a 6mm blue bead against a 6mm red bead, the red bead may appear to be bigger even though itís not.

Some people believe that different colors have psychological meanings associated with them. There are even cultural associations with colors. For example, in the United States and Europe black is often associated with death. However, red is associated with mourning in South Africa. In India, yellow symbolizes merchants but yellow is a mourning color in Egypt.

  • Red: heat, love, draws attention
  • Orange: associated with creativity
  • Yellow: helps us concentrate
  • Green: natural, calming
  • Blue: calming, can be depressing
  • Violet: symbolizes wealth
  • Black: powerful
  • White: innocent, can be cold

WetCanvas! has a color theory forum and 16 Lessons in Color Theory if you would like to learn more about color.