Pantone Picks Two Colors for 2021

By Isabelle Corvin, CG, Staff Gemologist at Panowicz Jewelers

Pantone colors for 2021: Ultimate Gray (17-5104) and Illuminating (13-0647)
Image courtesy of Pantone.com.

Most likely, everyone is looking forward to 2021 and the start of a new year. The last year wasn’t quite what anyone was expecting, and as it closes, we must remember to look forward.

With that in mind, Pantone has chosen two colors this year: Ultimate Gray (17-5104) and Illuminating (13-0647).

While perhaps unexpected colors that aren’t usually at the top of anyone’s favorite color lists, bold yet familiar is an important outlook for every step forward!

Indeed, Pantone had that in mind, stating that the colors are “practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic.”

Stability, optimism, warmth, and energy is what most need now, so they are fitting colors for a brand-new year.

Ultimate Gray is a surprising choice, considering gray is perhaps bland, and dare we even say boring? However, gray is also a complementing color, able to enhance other colors alongside it, match every other shade, and be either warm or cool-toned when needed.

It’s also a color that everyone is familiar with; the word “gray” (or “grey” in the United Kingdom) first came into use as far back as 700 AD and has been associated with industry and business for many decades.

Surprisingly, for such a drab color, gray was and is essential in art.

Many artists during the Renaissance used gray lines as the base for oil paintings, and since it went well with all skin tones, it was often used as a background color.

Neutral, familiar, and modest, gray is a sharp contrast to the other color of 2021—Illuminating.

Yellow is a well-known color too, and this particular shade of Illuminating is bright and cheery, reminiscent of daffodils, ducklings, and bananas.

Yellow in fashion isn’t as common as other colors, given that it clashes with other hues. That’s why Ultimate Gray is the perfect companion!

An ancient color, the first use of yellow in art is from the Cave of Lascaux, in France. There you will find a yellow horse drawing, painted with yellow ochre, dating back some 17,300 years.

Ochre in yellows was common for artwork and a favorite of the Egyptians. They often painted gods with golden skin, and female mortal figures with lighter, paler shades of yellow. Gold was an important color to them, symbolizing eternity and strength.

It is said that Vincent van Gogh loved the color yellow and was quoted as saying it was the color of sunshine.

While the last year was perhaps not the grand start to a new decade, Illuminating reminds us to look to the things that are beautiful, bright, and colorful.

While many fashion and decorating trends will utilize these two colors, as always, natural gemstones are already a step ahead. Plenty of jewels offer a complementing hue, and some downright embody the two colors.

Diamond comes to mind, and not just for the perfect coloring. Diamonds are strong, resilient, and last forever. They remind us to shine under pressure.

With an abundance of natural inclusions, some diamonds can appear grayish, but maintain a strong surface luster. These are marketed under many names, and no two are alike.

Other diamonds, colored by nitrogen, will be yellow. These range from light and pale, to intense and vivid. Treatments can enhance these colors, and since they are still diamonds, they remain bright and fiery!

Some pearls can also be gray, and as a familiar and classic gemstone, it’s the perfect choice for Ultimate Gray.

Sunny gems like citrine and lemon quartz are great for that Illuminating vibe. Citrine is said by many to be a positive gemstone when worn. It’s considered a warm gem and is said to invite the imagination. It is also known as the merchant’s stone. Old legends speak of increased wealth to merchants that held the stone during transactions and increased protection when traveling.  

More yellow-hued gemstones to consider are yellow beryl (Heliodor) and yellow sapphire.

Heliodor is the yellow member of the beryl family and is named after the Greek god of the sun, Helios.

As such, this gemstone is another that is closely related to warmth, energy, and life. Some also claim it increases confidence and the desire to learn.

Yellow sapphire, although it can range in color tones, can reach the same vibrant shade as Illuminating. Since sapphires are durable as well as colorful, this gem is a great combination for everyday wear.

The new year is upon us with great anticipation.

Pantone’s colors reflect the need for familiarity and happiness, which are hoped for now more than ever.

Stepping forward, we must focus on the sunshine in life, no matter how small.

And make sure to share a little of that light, too.

Happy New Year and a happy 2021!

Jewelry images by American Gem Society (AGS) members. Visit ags.org/findajeweler to find an AGS jeweler near you.


Isabelle Corvin

Isabelle Corvin is an AGS Certified Gemologist (CG) who is the Staff Gemologist at Panowicz Jewelers. Since she was 14-years-old, she knew she wanted to be a gemologist. Ms. Corvin also writes for Panowicz Jewelers’ blog.

Fascinating Phenomena in Gemstones

There are several varieties of gemstones that display optical phenomena, which describes the many ways light interacts with the structural features or inclusions (internal characteristics) in the gemstone. Often these gemstones will be fashioned in a particular way that best displays these effects.

The science of optical phenomena can be fascinating, although the mystery and allure of these effects are what initially attract us! Below are six of the most familiar (and magical) displays of optical phenomena in gemstones.

Play-of-Color

Play-of-color is created by a combination of diffraction and interference, and is the result of the microstructure of opal: the chameleon of a thousand colors and October’s birthstone!

Opals are made up of many layers of small, stacked spheres of silica. These spheres diffract light, splitting it into a spectrum of colors. The layers of these spheres create interference allowing certain colors to dominate, depending on the angle the opal is viewed.

Asterism

Asterism, or stars, relates to the four- or six-rayed star pattern of light produced by the fibrous inclusions, elongated needles, or growth tubes in a gemstone. This singular, celestial-like phenomenon is best seen in a gemstone cut en cabochon.

 

Chatoyancy

Chatoyancy [sha-TOY-an-cee] is also known as “cat’s eye.” Fine needle-like or fibrous inclusions within the gemstone are what causes this effect. Again, stones fashioned as cabochons display this effect the best.

 

Color Change

A small number of gemstones display the color change optical phenomena. Depending on the lighting environment, the color change appearance can vary due to the shifting wavelengths. The technical term for this is photochromism or photochroism; “color-change” is a lot easier to say!

The best-known color changing gemstone is alexandrite. When viewed in sunlight, it appears greenish. When placed under incandescent light, it appears reddish. Other varieties of color-changing gemstones include sapphire, garnet, spinel, diaspore, and tourmaline.

 

Adularescence

Adularescence is the phenomenon typically seen in moonstone, which is a member of the feldspar family. It produces a billowy soft blue to milky white light that appears to move across the gemstone. This occurs when light hits the alternating layers of albite and orthoclase, which are two differing forms of feldspar within the gem.

The layers of feldspar interfere with the light rays causing them to scatter and the eye to observe adularescence. The effect is best seen when the gemstone is cut en cabochon [en CAB-ah-shawn]—that is, with a polished, domed top and a flat or slightly rounded base.

 

Labradorescence

Labradorscence [lab-ra-dor-es-cence] is an optical characteristic often seen in labradorite. The effect is a spectacular play-of-color that is metallic or iridescent, displaying blue, green, red, orange, and yellow. This is an interference effect within the gemstone caused by internal structures that selectively reflect only certain colors.

 

Are you ready to see some of these displays in person? Visit an American Gem Society (AGS) jeweler near you and ask to see some gemstones that exhibit optical phenomena!

Corundum of Many Colors: Sapphire

As we turn our calendars to September, we start thinking of things like heading back to school, sipping on a pumpkin spice latte, and planning our fall fashions. For those celebrating a birthday in September, they’re thinking of their birthstone: sapphire!

Although sapphire typically refers to the rich blue gemstone variety of the mineral corundum, this royal gem actually occurs in a rainbow of hues. Sapphires come in every color except red, which would then be classified as ruby.

Trace elements like iron, titanium, chromium, copper, and magnesium give naturally colorless corundum a tint of blue, yellow, purple, orange or green, respectively. Sapphires in any color but blue are called “fancies.”

Pink sapphires, in particular, tow a fine line between ruby and sapphire. In the U.S., these gems must meet a minimum color saturation to be considered rubies. Pinkish orange sapphires called padparadscha (from the Sri Lankan word for “lotus flower”) can actually draw higher prices than some blue sapphires.

Due to the remarkable hardness of sapphires—which measure 9 on the Mohs scale, second only to diamond—they aren’t just valuable in jewelry, but also in industrial applications including scientific instruments, high-durability windows, watches, and electronics.

Sapphires make stunning gifts for anyone born in September or celebrating a 5th or 45th wedding anniversary, so be sure to visit an AGS jeweler. They will help you find that perfect gift, whether you’re seeking the classic blue or another shade from the sapphire rainbow.

Need some inspiration? View this collection of designs featuring the sapphire!

Setting our Sights on Sapphires

By Robin Skibicki

As we change our calendars to September, our sights are set on cooler weather, and on sapphires!

Sapphires are known for their beautiful blue hue, but they can also be found in a variety of pinks, yellows, and oranges, even peach, green, and violet colors. These colors are referred to as fancy sapphire.

One of the most sought-after fancy sapphires is the padparadscha. Its pink-orange coloration can be compared to that of a tropical sunset. Princess Eugenie, a cousin to Princes William and Harry, received an oval cut padparadscha sapphire ring for her engagement, bringing this rare gemstone into the limelight.

Omi-sapphire

Padparadscha sapphire and diamond ring by Omi Privé. This ring is the AGTA 2018 Spectrum Award Winner.

Sapphires can also display the celestial-like optical phenomena, asterism, adding the name “star” to this type of sapphire.

Suna-PinkStarSapphire-loose

Pink star sapphire cut en cabochon, by Suna Bros.

September babies are lucky to have a birthstone that comes in a variety of colors! Below are a few images from American Gem Society (AGS) members that showcase the chromatically-gifted sapphire. To find an AGS-credentialed jeweler near you, click here!