Style Snapshot: Is White a Color?

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by Leslie, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ®

There's an age-old debate about whether white should be recognized as a color or not, but one thing artists can agree upon is the importance of white. Famous for being the opposite of black, white is technically defined as the absence of color and is usually not included in the color wheel, but that doesn't mean it doesn't play a big role in jewelry designs.

Since white is often viewed as a non-color, it provides negative space to direct focus. This neutral color can also define and help make other pigments stand out or tone down otherwise overpowering hues.

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A Year-Round Trend

White has broken out of its post-Memorial Day traditions to become a year-round power color for clothing, shoes and, of course, jewelry. Color Theory--the study of colors, their properties and their effect on the viewer--characterizes white as clean, cool, fresh and pure. These associations relate quite naturally to winter snow, wedding dresses, angels and moonlit nights.

White's association with words such as "clean," "youth" and "pure" make it an ideal color to use when creating wedding designs for any season. Crystal and silver are often seen as variants of white in jewelry and both pair perfectly with the hue for elegant results. White is a crisp and sleek color that does not clash with any other hues. White can be stark and modern or classy and vintage, depending on the design itself or on complementary beads and components.

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So Many White Design Options

Designing in white offers a diverse choice of materials. White manmade components range from acrylic to porcelain to Swarovski's "white opal" stones and pearls. White gemstone choices include white marble, magnesite, moonstone, quartz, agate and many more. Remember, too, that clear components will generally translate to white when worn with white clothing.

Pearl has earned its place as one of the go-to gems for white jewelry. The white pearl hits all the marks for high appeal, featuring a shiny-yet-soft visual texture and curved surfaces that enhance the interplay of light and shadow. Swarovski crystal pearls are created to accentuate these natural properties to maximum effect. Most importantly, pearls look great on every woman.

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When designing white jewelry for a specific client, or with the intention of selling to the broad market, it's valuable to bear in mind that different skin tones look best with different shades of white; "cool" skin tones have a bluish undertone and look good with pure whites, while more yellow/gold "warm" skin tones benefit from off-whites. White designs can also be tweaked by using metal components that will flatter the wearer; see what a difference it makes when white designs are paired with either gold- or silver-colored metals.

White is also entirely gender neutral with no pre-existing determinations of femininity or masculinity. For this reason, white is an excellent choice as an accent color in men's jewelry since it can be both bold in its own right or make other design elements seem prominent. For more feminine designs, think of the classic white small pearl necklaces worn by the iconic Jackie O or Marilyn Monroe as well as the larger, multi-strand necklace of white pearls and crystal-encrusted centerpiece on Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Style Snapshot: Is White a Color?

We think you'll agree there's no doubt that white is coloring our fashion world and plays a key role in jewelry design.

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