When we make jewellery, having a good sense of colour is very important. Being the daughter of an artist, I have been taught about the colour circle ever since I was a kid. I’ve adapted the lessons used by painters, to fit our needs as jewellery makers, giving some good points on how to use colours in our jewelry. In this tutorial I will focus on how to use cold/warm colours.
First I need to explain the basics. Through out time there has been many ways of understanding colours, but the most known and used is
’s colour circle which he invented in 1666. My lesson will use his ideas, just applied on beads and metals. Newton
The circle is built on 3 primary colours, which cannot be created with any other colours: The primary colours are yellow, blue and red.
The secondary colours are the ones which can be created by mixing the 3 primary colours:
red+yellow = orange,
red+blue = violet,
yellow+blue = green
Finally; the tertiary colours can be created by mixing the secondary colours.
Of cause we can't mix colours when we are using beads, but it is important to understand the basis of the colours in order to understand the difference between warm/cold colours. If you are finding this all confusing try to play with some watercolour, mixing the colours, and seeing the change with your own eyes.
Warm / Cool colours
The colour circle can also be divided into two half’s; a warm and a cold one.
The colours temperature determines how the colours react to each other. In general a hot colour goes with another hot colour and the same with the cold. The colours can be divided into families. All families has both warm and cool variations. This means that an orange colour can actually both be a hot and a cold colour.This is important when choosing colours for different metals.
Here's examples of the same colour beads, but in different temperatures. Notice how the warm colours all carries more yellow then blue, and the cool colours carries more blue. If you have doubt about whether your bead is warm or cool coloured, try using one of the painters circles and check your bead on it. Here's an online colour wheel, that works really well. Try holding up your bead and find the colour closest to it. See where it lands on the wheel to
see if it's a cool or a warm colour.
Here's when it gets hard, but also important for jewelry making. Metal colours are warm and cool as well. And as we just found out, warm colours goes best with other warm colours, and the same goes for the cool colours.
Silver: Cold colour
Gold/Brass: Hot colour
Bronze/Copper: Hot-cold colour (This means it belongs to the warm family, like gold, but copper has more blue in it, and therefore it is a warm colour going towards the cool colours)
So what on earth does all this mean??When you are choosing an orange colour for your silver piece, try to keep in mind if the orange is a cold or a hot orange, for a silver piece you should choose an orange that is almost yellow. Copper is a very easy metal to choose colours for, because it’s both a warm and cool colour almost all colours will fit copper.
Keep following my blog, to read the next tutorial in this line; Using contrast colours in jewelry