The colour wheel of gemstones is an exciting palette to choose from. But sometimes too much choice can be confusing! How often have we loved a piece of jewellery in a show case, but when we try it on, it just doesn’t look as good? When shopping for jewellery we usually desire to buy jewels that match an outfit or colours of garments we generally prefer wearing. But just as we choose colours of clothes that look good on us, so also it is insightful to understand what colour jewellery suits our skin tone.
Skin tone does not necessarily mean how light or dark your skin is. The undertone of your skin is usually “cool” or “warm”. This can be determined by identifying the colour of your veins on the inner part of your fist. Most people whose veins appear to be bluish have a cool skin tone and those, whose veins appear to be greenish, usually have a warm skin tone.
Colour Contrast or Colour Blend?
Once you’ve determined your skin tone, finding jewellery that suits is easy! Yellow gold and Rose gold complement warm skin tones well, while white gold, silver and platinum, complement cool skin tones. Having said that, these metal colours usually stand out against your skin and allow you to flaunt your jewellery. But some with subtle personalities may prefer the metal to blend in with the tone of their skin. Role gold jewellery on cool skin tones can almost seem like a part of their skin, and some people prefer that, especially for everyday jewellery. Choosing to have an understated metal sometimes allows the gemstone or diamond to stand out even more. Ultimately it depends what you wish to emphasize more- a colour contrast or a colour blend.
Pairing Metals & Gemstones
By popularity, most people choose precious jewellery that will complement their skin tone and stand out as well. Warm metal tones such as yellow and rose gold, on warm skin tones, often pair well with warm coloured gemstones. And just as we all know warm colours (going back to basics that we learnt in art class!), the gemstones in hues of red, orange and yellow go well with these warm metal tones. Garnets, Citrine, Rubies, Yellow Diamonds, Orange & Yellow Sapphires are all great choices of gemstones to set with yellow gold. Garnets, Rubies as well as Pink Sapphires, Pink & Purplish-pink Tourmalines, Pink diamonds are good complements to Rose Gold.
However, some cool colours as well tend to match the warm metals. Yellow and Rose gold, matches yellow, brown or warm under-toned gemstones such as Zircon, Champagne Quartz & Sherry Topaz.
On the other hand, white metals go hand-in-hand with cool-colored gemstones such as Blue Sapphires, Amethysts, and Aquamarines. Paraiba Tourmalines, Tourmalines, Green and Teal Sapphires, are of a similar nature. Light pink stones such as Morganites, Pastel Pink Sapphires, Pink Diamonds can sometimes get lost in a Rose gold mount. Thus, could stand out more if set in a white metal, such as white gold or platinum. The same goes with pale yellow stones such as faint yellow diamonds and Pastel Citrine in a yellow mount.
Black, grey and dark gemstones like Spinel and Black Diamonds are a stand out when set in any colour metal but are most bold when mounted with white metals. Rare colour changing stones such as the famous Alexandrite can be suitable for all metal colours due to the nature of its change in colours- having presence of both cool (blue-green shades) and warm (red-orange shades) colours. Neutral coloured gemstones such as pearls and diamonds suit all colours of metals as well as all skin tones. You certainly can’t go wrong there! After all, diamonds are a girl’s best friend!
Another way of looking at it, is you may like yellow gold or rose gold but your skin tone is “cool”. So, if you feel that 18 karat gold may look too bold against your skin, try a lower karatage like 9 karat or 14 karat. You will find the colour of the yellow or rose to be paler in nature, which will look prettier along with your skin tone.
But alas, there is no rule to what is right and wrong. Jewellery is not like foundation or concealer that needs to be a perfect blend. Jewellery is an object of sentiment and ultimately what matters most is how good you feel wearing a particular colour or a gem that you like most. Playing around with metals and gemstones and mixing colours or layering and stacking different metals are a great way to carry off any colours. Never forget that the significance and meaning of jewellery supersedes all the golden rules of the colour wheel!
Samantha C. Pais, GIA GG
Samantha is a Graduate Gemologist from the Gemological Institute of America. Founder of Curious Carat on Instagram, Samantha has over a decade of experience in the international jewellery industry, which shines through her work for The Gem Monarchy.
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