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Designing Jewellery With Colour in Mind

Colour affects us all, in a way that can change how we feel. The bright colours of spring and summer, lift the spirit and makes us feel happy, where as the dull brown and greys of winter, can make us feel sad and miserable. Using colour in our home décor, the clothes that we wear and the jewellery that we adorn ourselves with, can have a dramatic affect on how we feel.

All colours are made from the three primaries, red, yellow and blue. Secondaries are made by mixing two adjacent primary colours. These are, orange from red and yellow, purple from red and blue and green from blue and yellow. Tertiary colours are made by mixing one primary with the adjacent secondary. The six tertiary colours are red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-purple and red-purple. Tints and shades of these colours can be made by adding white, making soft pastels and by adding black, making darker shades.

Tonal value, which refers to the lightness and darkness of a colour, must be considered when designing a piece of jewellery. Using beads that all have the same tonal value can look dull, unless the beads used have different finishes.

Colours can be divided into two categories, warm being, purple-red, red-orange, orange, yellow-orange and yellow. Cool being, yellow-green, green, blue-green, blue, blue-purple and purple, using a mixture of warm and cool colours can add interest to a piece of beadwork.

Monochromatic colour schemes consist of tints and shades of one colour, when using a monochromatic scheme; choose beads that have different finishes. Mixing matt beads, luster beads, transparent beads and crystals can make a piece of jewellery look more interesting.

Analogous schemes are any three or four colours adjacent to each other on the colour wheel and are harmonious because they have a common colour linking at least three of them.

Complementary schemes are colours that lie directly opposite each other on the colour wheel and make each other appear more vibrant.

Split complementary schemes are one colour, together with two colours either side of its complementary.

Triadic schemes consist of three colours evenly spaced on the colour wheel and tetradic schemes are four colours, two from either side of the colour wheel.

Neutral colours are made by mixing the three primary colours in varying proportions to make shades of brown, then by adding white, beige taupe and cream can be produced. When using neutral colours, look for beads with interesting shapes and textures, like horn, bone, shell glass and wood.

Although black, white and grey are not really neutral colours, they are often treated as such. When using black white and grey schemes, look for pearl beads, transparent foil lined beads, luster beads and pewter, to give an interesting sophisticated look.

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