Jul 8, 2012

Creating Colorways

 Creating unique colorways for jewelry is simple when looking to nature for inspiration. Colors found in nature are harmonious, the key factor in color theory, as they engage us as viewers and create an inner sense of order. 

Nature's colors are neither boring nor chaotic, and thus you can always look to nature for colorways in jewelry designs. Nature's colors do not have to be analogous, or side by side on the color wheel, in order to bring a sense of unity -- nor must they be  complimentary (directly opposite each other on the color wheel) in order to be are harmonious. Nature is the perfect and expert artist at creating a sense of interest and serenity with color.

One way to explore color in nature is through photography. An excellent program for uploading digital pictures to create colorways is Css Drive, a color palette generator that produces a complete color palette and three 7 color palettes in light, medium and dark. Additionally, Css Drive provides html codes for each shade in all the colorways, making web design harmonious and interesting also.

I uploaded the photo above, and was surprised to see within the color palettes numerous shades of green (analogous) and far more lavender (complimentary) than I expected because I initially saw the flower as white. This is another factor in color theory: color context. 

Color behaves in relation to other colors and shapes. A color against a black background appears more brilliant and a color against a white background appears somewhat duller. Likewise, a single color can look like two colors in different contexts. For example, this photo hows how the same color appears different in two backgrounds:
Photo by Color Voodoo Publications
Believe it or not, both shades of purple inside the boxes are the exact same color. So, just as I perceived my flower to be white and garnet, my perception may not accurately allow me to design with color or photograph my jewelry at its best. By using the CSS drive, I can study colorways in nature and more accurately create jewelry that will be pleasing and intriguing.

Big Hugs, TJ

Toltec Jewels is an author by day and jewelry artist by night. Her literary work is housed by the San Fransisco MOMA in a permanent collection of mixed media art and is published internationally in popular magazines, literary quarterlies, and university publications. A gemstone collector and jewelry lover, her store offers gemstone beads and she is happiest when creating handcrafted jewelry with her entire family. She has won a number of awards for both her literary and jewelry art.

She is also the creator of Jewel School Friends, a community of expert and emerging jewelry artisans taking inspiration from each other, Jewel School, and jewelry art culture by featuring jewelry designers and bead artists and supporting entrepreneurship for independent artisans. Join her at Jewel School Friends on Facebook for tutorials, community events, challenges, and fundraisers.


  1. Thank you for sharing the CSS site. I have always wondered how people came up these wonderful palettes.

    1. You're welcome! I find it really useful for jewelry designs and for blogging too :)


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