Gemstones for Jewelry Making: Pantone’s Spring 2012 Color Palette

I’m passionate about color and all of its little nuances. I’m fascinated by the different appearances a single color can have based upon the light it’s viewed under, and I get satisfaction from identifying multiple hues in an object that appears to be just one color, like a “gray” metal pan that, upon closer inspection, is actually awash in blues, purples, roses, browns, and grays.

Gemstones are one of my favorite sources of color. I use a lot of genuine gemstones in my own work, and I find myself calling colors their gemstone names, such as ruby for my favorite bluish raspberry reds, rhodochrosite for that juicy grapefruit color, and Padparadscha for that very distinctive pinky-orange color that only a true Padparadscha sapphire has. I sometimes find myself thinking of all colors in terms of their matching gemstones. I had to laugh when I saw that Pantone’s color palette for spring 2012 includes a color named after a gemstone, sodalite.


Pantone’s 2012 Color of the Year: Tangerine Tango
Pantone’s color of the year for 2012 is “Tangerine Tango.” According to Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, the color is “sophisticated but at the same time dramatic and seductive . . . an orange with a lot of depth to it.” Tangerine tango is an invigorating color that “marries the vivaciousness and adrenaline rush of red with the friendliness and warmth of yellow, to form a high-visibility, magnetic hue that emanates heat and energy,” Eiseman said.

In gemstone terms, Tangerine Tango could be a beautiful bright orange or Padparadscha sapphire, a fire opal, a very fine sphalerite, or a juicy spessartite garnet.

Pantone Spring 2012 Color Palette
Some gemstones, such as spinel, sapphire, garnet, tourmaline, and topaz, come in such a rainbow of colors that they can be used to fulfill just about any of the rest of Pantone’s Spring 2012 color palette. Here’s the list of this spring’s hot colors according to Pantone, along with some specific examples (from top to bottom) of which gemstones you could incorporate into your gemstone collections or jewelry designs to be on trend for spring.

Solar Power: citrine, hessonite and spessartite garnet, fire opal, amber, sphalerite, heliodor

Bellflower: amethyst, fluorite, spinel, kunzite

Cabaret: rhodochrosite, rhodonite, bixbite, ruby, spinel, rubellite

Sodalite Blue: sodalite of course, plus sapphire, iolite, kyanite

Margarita: prehnite, fluorite, jade, nephrite, moldavite, prasiolite, some peridot

Sweet Lilac: kunzite, Rose de France amethyst, fluorite, garnet

Cockatoo: indicolite or Paraiba tourmaline, apatite, chalcedony, fluorite, turquoise, zircon

Driftwood: pietersite, pyrite, hematite, jaspers, agates

Starfish: hematite, jaspers, agates

To learn more about the rainbow of colors that gemstones can add to your jewelry designs and which gems are available in which colors, pre-order your copy of our newest book about gemstones, Gemstone Settings: The Jewelry Maker’s Guide to Styles & Techniques by Anastasia Young (author of one of my other favorite jewelry-making books, The Workbench Guide to Jewelry Techniques).

In Gemstone Settings, you’ll learn more about popular gemstones that you’ve probably been familiar with for years, but you’ll also be introduced to some lesser-known gems such as chrysoberyl and diopside. You’ll discover great tips and information for using gemstones in your own jewelry designs, including how to set them, various types of gemstone settings, and jewelry design that starts with the gemstone and works into a design–plus basic jewelry-making techniques such as soldering, casting, wire wrapping, and more. If you love using gemstones in your jewelry making like I do, it’s a great new resource for your jewelry bench!

I’m really drawn to Cabaret or Sweet Lilac with Driftwood–a slightly different twist on classic pink and brown. What’s your favorite color or color pairing for spring? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

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