Speaking of Color

By Deborah Yonick, jewelry style expert

In the past 23-years and 46 seasons that Pantone, the color authority has been promoting the top fashion hues on the runways, it has elevated the discussion of color in many industries including fine jewelry.

For spring 2018, the palette expanded from 10 to 16 top hues, reflecting a departure from traditional color guidelines in fashion in favor of more color exploration year round, says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. It’s not about gender or season. Fashion trends are celebrating experimentation and non-conformity, inspiring individuals to imagine how they can push boundaries through colorful self-expression.

Left: Paul Wild, ICA member, amethyst rose 139.15ct and amethyst necklace 331.84ct. Center: Pantone © Ultra Violet swatch. Right top: Cushion shape purple fancy sapphire from Omi Gems and right below: Square cut purple fancy sapphire from Omi Gems.

Eiseman calls the new palette a “kaleidoscope of uplifting shades”, with the likes of bright yellow Meadowlark, orangey red Cherry Tomato, clear skies Little Boy Blue, earthy red Chili Oil, Pink Lavender, blush Blooming Dahlia, cool green Arcadia, chocolate Emperador, Almost Mauve, fuchsia Spring Crocus, Lime Punch, and Ultra Violet. People want to feel optimistic and confident and these pop colors inspire that, especially Ultra Violet, proclaimed Color of the Year.

In supporting roles are four neutral hues that work well on their own or as backdrops for more complex color blends: navy Sailor Blue, dove gray Harbor Mist, Warm Sand, and Coconut Milk.

Left: Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Madrid September 2017 Natalia Rivera. Center: Paul Wild, earsets in tsavortie, tourmaline and spinel for a total of 154.20ct. Right Pantone © Sailor Blue swatch.

Translating Pantone

In fashion, the greater use of color and in interesting combinations reflect global, cultural influences, particularly from Asia, India and the Middle East, describes Michael O’Connor, jewelry stylist and president of Style and Substance. “This broader palette is the perfect base for jewelry designers to promote the wide range of color stones available.”

In fact, the jewelry market is excited about a lot of gemstones, most notably varieties that come in many colors like sapphire, garnet, tourmaline, spinel, and zircon, sees market analyst Stuart Robertson for The Gem Guide.

Left: Pantone © Arcadia swatch. Center: ICA member, Erica Courtney "Double Trouble" indicolite and mint tourmalines ring. Right: New York, NY - September 07: A model walks the runway for Desigual fashion show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery 1, Skylight Clarkson Sq on September 7, 2017 in New York City. Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images For Desigual.

More jewelers and designers are using these gems and other lesser-known but attractive exotic stones giving consumers greater choice. Robertson cites “ite” stones like sugilite, gaspeite, howlite, dumortierite, benitoite, and goshenite among the designer favorites, as well as picture jaspers and agates. Jason Stephenson, gem and mineral expert for Pala International (ICA member) in Fallbrook, California sees more people excited about the diversity of color on the market, and more interest in a greater variety of rare, collectible stones.

Pantone can take the conversation beyond classic birthstones by introducing non-traditional stones when discussing color and fashion. The popularity of Ultra Violet is good for purple sapphire, which Los Angeles designer and ICA member Niveet Nagpal for Omi Gems hails a Tucson gem show bestseller in a range of shades.

Left: Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Madrid September 2017 Aeron. Center: Paul Wild, tanzanite (9.78ct) and spinel (1.22ct) earset. Right: Pantone © Cherry Tomato swatch.

Eiseman calls Ultra Violet the empowering and optimistic color we needed, noting that the name suggests sparkling rays indigenous to gems and jewelry. Speaking of sparkle, garnet is especially popular with designers for its high brilliancy, as well as its durability, color range and affordable prices.

“Garnets from Mahenge are my favorite, with slight to drastically different colors coming from the same origin (peach to deep red pinks),” tells Los Angeles designer Erica Courtney, ICA member. “Tsavorites in rich greens and Merelani mint garnets are spectacular, and mandarins and demantoids are so bright and gorgeous!”

Left: Paul Wild sapphire rose earset 103.99ct. Center: Pantone © Pink Lavender swatch. Roght top: morganite stones from Ashley. Right down: Omi Privé Fancy Sapphire and Diamond 3-Stone Ring Fancy sapphire and diamond ring handcrafted with a 4.01 carat emerald cut lavender fancy sapphire center stone accented with 0.53 carats of half-moon pink sapphires and 0.16 carats of brilliant diamond rounds set in 18K white gold with 18K rose gold accents.

Next to purples and blues, blush to near colorless gems are on trend because they go with everything. The light pink of morganite is a very strong color because of how well it pairs with popular rose gold, says Ashley Corley, gemstones product manager for Stuller, who also cites white opal trending.

Stuller has fun with the Pantone picks, Corley says, noting that the jewelry house creates an annual web-based color of the year campaign showing Pantone’s pick with the jewels and gemstones that complement it. In a Facebook poll in November, Stuller’s followers predicted Minion Yellow would be the top hue, with yellow sapphire its ideal gem mate. She still thinks yellow will be popular this year. Hue of hope and optimism, O’Connor says optic yellows like Meadowlark or Lime Punch have been popping up on recent red carpets.

Left: New York, NY - September 07: A model walks the runway for Desigual fashion show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery 1, Skylight Clarkson Sq on September 7, 2017 in New York City. Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images For Desigual. Center: Pantone © Lime Punch swatch. Right: Stuller Pantone predictions on Facebook, November 6, 2018.

Conversation Starters

Most jewelry manufacturers and designers say they don't want to be boxed in by a “color of the year” for creating their designs. “As a company specializing in color stones, it’s essential we are always aware of the color trends, says Nagpal. “Besides the Pantone report, we follow apparel closely, as fashion designers and runway looks help set the trends in jewelry. Many jewelry consumers want to know what’s in and are drawn to Pantone’s chosen colors. Because of that, they want their color stone jewelry to reflect the latest colorful trends! Luxury jewelry lines do not generally change with the seasons in colors as much as fashion lines do, but it’s important to highlight pieces that work with the season’s color palette.”

Pantone © Little Boy Blue swatch. Center: Opals by Ashley. Right: Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Madrid September 2017 Aeron.

Speaking the Pantone language communicates color in a way that resonates with people, reinforcing the popular hues seen in other categories. The color names and descriptions tell a story and designers and jewelers can find inspiration and complements to their work within those narratives.

Part of the narrative is color play, says Eiseman, who notes that the complexity and distinctiveness of the hues in the spring palette are ideal for dramatic color mixing. Jewelry is a great way to explore unique colors like Meadowlark and Lime Punch that may be more challenging to incorporate into your everyday wardrobe in fashion, but effortless in a vibrant gemstone design.

Left top: Yellow sapphires. Left down: Erica Courtney yellow sapphire earrings. Center: Pantone © Meadowloark swatch. Right: New York, NY - September 07: A model walks the runway for Desigual fashion show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery 1, Skylight Clarkson Sq on September 7, 2017 in New York City. Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images For Desigual.

Paul Wild, ICA member, is keen to the power of Pantone and in telling a story in the gem layouts it creates for jewelry makers. For 2018, the German gem house chose as the theme that every woman is a goddess to inspire its diverse collection of gems and colors. Shades of purple, blue, green and red are prevalent.

“What was empowering to us in selecting this theme was to create designs that were graceful yet bold, that explore different shades and shapes in gemstones like tanzanite, emerald, and various tourmalines and spinels,” says CEO Markus Paul Wild, who notes the growing power of the female and the freedom of women to be themselves are playing out in evolving ideals of femininity and how women express that in their personal style.

Left: Paul Wild amethyst (158.77ct) and morganite (30.78ct) set. Center: Pantone © Spring Crocus swatch. Right: Paul Wild spinel set 317.82ct.

Top image: Pantone © 2018 color swatches, www.pantone.com.