I often have people who tell me that they “don’t do gold” or “I only wear silver”, “I can’t wear red” or “I hate yellow”. It has got me thinking about colour and how I think that sometimes people (especially women it has to be said) get a fixation about colours and what works on them. I have to admit that I am drawn to certain colours over others – I realise that I choose turquoise and teal and those greeny-blue colours without really realising it (my bathroom, my exhibition stand, the ribbons on my packaging, my daughter’s feature wall!!), but not necessarily for my jewellery or my clothes, so it doesn’t necessarily mean that what you like looking at is what you feel works “on” you.
I had a rather under-confident woman come up to me at a show the other day and tell me that she had had her “colours” done years ago and she had been told that gold was her colour (in terms of jewellery), so that is what she had religiously stuck to. She then went back to another colour consultant (and I hadn’t even realised that colour consultancy was still a thing!), who had told her that silver was her colour for jewellery. Well she was thrown into such a quandary! I have to admit to a quiet inward chuckle and thought surely that proves that this colour thing can hardly be an exact science. I added to her confusion by saying “what about wearing both depending on how you feel?” What about maybe even choosing jewellery that is made with a mix of metals? Surely by wearing mixed metal jewellery you are not limiting yourself to one palette and you can have lots more fun!
Historically, I believe, there was an issue with mixing metals in pieces of jewellery because of the hallmarking process. Jewellers would stringently stick to one carat of gold for instance. Now if you create a piece primarily in Sterling silver with details in yellow gold you can get part-marks detailing the different metals – the Assay Office has eventually moved with the times. Jewellery has become so much more experimental, fun, not only for the rich and showy.
There are always changing fashions of course – bright shiny gold might not necessarily be so in favour, and some people think that silver is just the cooler, more wearable metal – it might not actually be down to what “suits”. And what about what jewellery means or says about you. We all know that gold is so, so much more expensive than silver – if you like bold statement jewellery like me, there is no way that I could afford to have those pieces in solid gold. I have no issue with the “colour” gold – I love it – but because I’m not a billionaire I choose to wear pieces that are mainly silver with detailing in gold. I love a gold bezel around certain colours of stone – 18ct yellow gold looks so regal around a blood red ruby. The coolness of an aquamarine is set off beautifully by a paler 9ct yellow gold. And the gold doesn’t have to be mirror polished – I prefer it subtly brushed or textured.
There are lots of cultural differences around choice of metal too – we know about the Indian preference of investing in gold and wearing your investment as jewellery. I once worked with a fascinating guy who travelled constantly as an event electrician – he was constantly up in the rigging of big music venues and the like. He had multiple piercings (I didn’t see them all!) and wore huge gold chains around his neck all the time with big gold rings on his fingers. I asked him about all his jewellery and he said that while he was travelling and working without any commitment or ties, he would invest his money in gold and wear it proudly. When the time came to settle down, he would sell off his jewellery as he needed – as good a choice as any I thought! Plus he looked pretty damn cool – an identity completely of his own.
I think that you also need to look at why you wear jewellery – who is it for? Personally I wear it for me – I love it. I love the fun of it and I really love the colours and the texture. Through making jewellery I’ve had quite a journey with colour. I always felt a bit funny about yellow – whenever I tried to wear it I’d look at myself and think I looked unwell! But now I can’t get enough of yellow and orange gemstones – they really, really work in jewellery – they are bright, attention grabbing, and happy. Even if you feel a bit daunted by a colour, try it in your jewellery – you’ll be surprised how it works. If you can’t have a splash of brilliant colour in a ring or in your earrings, where on earth can you?