Colours in Jewellery and its Symbolism

Our response to colour is actually very complex. Because, it is a mixture of instinct, cultural conditioning and the result of personal experiences and associations.


In nature, warning colours like red, orange and acid green are associated with being poisonous. Animals and birds have evolved to avoid those colours and other animals and birds have evolved to mimic those warning colours as self-protection.

Associations with colours, naturally come from our environment too. The blue of the sky, the gold of the sun, the green of grass, the red of blood and orange of fire. Because all produce memories and emotions.

Experience and Culture

Memories and emotions about fire colours, would be very different for someone who associates them with a log fire on a winters evening and someone who has had the misfortune to be caught in a house or car fire. Often because negative memories mean a “gut response” to a colour. A person might not even be aware of this on a conscious level. This is one of the reasons why you should wear colours and jewellery that you are drawn to, rather than wearing things that you are “told” are right for you.

A big cultural difference in the symbolism of colour, is with black and white. In the West, white is the colour of purity, innocence and marriage. In the Eastern traditions, white is the colour of mourning and grief. While black is the colour of funerals and death in the West.

Natural Colouring

Colour alone, has the power to enhance or detract from our appearance. Have you ever experienced having a personal colour analysis session? You can’t fail to be amazed how with some colours draped round your neck you look old, wan and even lopsided! Yet with others you look younger, prettier and more vibrant.

Basically, what colour analysis does is to examine your natural skin tone and classify it.  “Cool”, fair complexion with a cool bluey undertone. Or “Warm” where your skin tones are peachy to golden yellow. This division, is then again subdivided, according to how intense your other colouring (eyes/hair) is. Of the two cool skin tones, the darker colouring is termed “Winter”, with dark, black or steel grey hair. Winter people look best in clear, bright, true primary colours. A “Summer” person has ash blonde to mid brown hair and they look best in clear cool, subtle shades.

Warm skin tone classifications are “Spring” and Autumn”. Autumn people have dark brown hair with reddish lights. They look best in warm, earth like tones, because these work with the natural glow of the skin. Spring people have lighter hair, normally blonde or red and look best in the lighter, warm colours. Although this may seem a very prescriptive way to choose outfits, it doesn’t in fact mean you can’t wear any colours, it’s just the shades you need to be careful of.

We will now look at the colours of gemstones and detail some of the associations with stones of particular colours.

Blue Stones

Blue Agate, Lapis Lazuli, Tanzanite, Sapphire, Topaz, Chalcedony, Iolite, Sodalite, Azurite, Blue Tourmaline, Spinel, Aquamarine, Blue Goldstone and Blue Moonstone are all blue stones.

Blues are said to induce calm, peace, creativity and serenity in the wearer. Blue are also linked to clarity of mental thought, inspiration and are said to help with meditation

Yellow Stones

Amber, Citrine, Carnelian, Sapphire, Garnet, Tigers Eye, Topaz, Beryl, Jasper and Tourmaline all have yellow forms.

Yellow stones are said to draw attention to the wearer and build self esteem and confidence. Because like the sun, they illuminate, warm and cheer the wearer.

Orange Stones

Coral, Chalcedony, Zircon, Citrine, Sardonyx, Sapphire, Garnet, Fire Opal, Amber, Sunstone, Carnelian, Topaz, and Agate all have orange forms.

As with yellow stones, the flamboyance of orange draws attention to the wearer. Orange is linked with creativity, energy and sexual attractiveness. It’s a “notice me”! “Pay attention” colour to wear.

Red Stones

Garnet, Ruby, Poppy Jasper, Sponge Coral, Sapphire, Red Jasper, Beryl, Tourmaline, Alexandrite and Spinel all have red forms.

Red is associated with excitement, energy and passion. It is bold, fiery and linked with courage. A red gemstone is probably the most popular choice for jewellery because of it’s boldness and eye catching quality (red and orange are the colours that we see first at a distance).

Green Stones

Tsavorite Garnet, Opal, Sapphire, Malachite, Serpentine, Jade, Peridot, Gaspeite, Tourmaline, Emerald, Jadeite, Jasper, Zircon, Beryl, Adventurine, Topaz and Alexandrite all have Green forms.

Green because of its natural associations is linked with fertility and wealth, it is also said to the be most relaxing colour of all to look at and hence to be soothing and calming to wear.

Purple Stones

Flourite, Amethyst, Charoite, Suglite, Jasper, Tanzanite, Garnet, Sapphire, Topaz, Agate, Chalcedony, Tourmaline and Spinel all have purple/violet forms.

Purple has been associated for centuries with royalty, power and wealth and more recently it has been liked with spirituality, creativity and insight.

Black Stones

Onyx, Agate, Snowflake Obsidian, Jet, Black Spinel, Black Pearl, Haematite.

Black or the absence of colour/light has many symbolisms, the colour of mourning and grief, the colour of high fashion and chic, sexy dressing.

In jewellery, black stones are said to protect the emotions of the wearer from being displayed, allowing the wearer to remain mysterious.

Aqua/Turquoise Stones

Aquamarine, Topaz, Turquoise, Amazonite, Opal, Tourmaline, Apatite.

Having the hue of water or of the sea, these stones are loved for their associations with the coolness and cleanliness of pure water. Blue/green stones are said to promote feelings of tranquility and help with meditation, as well as inspiring creativity in the wearer.

Pink Stones

Beryl, Kunzite, Sapphire, Rubellite Garnet, Pink Jasper, Tourmaline, Rose Quartz, Topaz, Pink Pearls, Strawberry Quartz, Champagne Quartz.

Pink has many of the same qualities as red, only as you would expect but pinks are gentler and more muted. Said to help with feelings of anger and isolation. Pink represents friendship, love and trust.

White/Clear Stones

Diamond, Sapphire, Opal, Moonstone, Topaz, Pearls, Beryl, Zircon

White and clear stones represent purity and truth and are often used as protective stones. Because they are associated with the moon and femininity they are often given to celebrate loving landmarks in peoples lives such as engagements, weddings and anniversaries.

Brown Stones

Amber, Agate, Smoky Quartz, Topaz, Sapphire, Diamond, Tourmaline, Zircon

Brown is the colour of the earth and the simple truths in life. Brown stones are said to promote wisdom, health, gravitas and stability in the wearer.

To summarise then, colour is a very powerful tool to use in projecting yourself to other people. It is also helpful in creating a desired mood or feeling through its personal associations. Use it with care!!