American Gem Trade AssociationAdd More Color To Your Life

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By Lorraine DePasque, Contributing Editor

What's the color with juice? Tangerine, of course! It's the "2012 Color of the Year," according to the Pantone Color Institute. From fashion and jewelry to beauty and home, this bold and refreshing red-orange is bursting with energy everywhere. "It's not only fun and beautiful but also surprisingly flattering on most everyone," says Pantone's Executive Director Leatrice Eiseman. In an exclusive interview with AGTA, Eiseman—often referred to as "the international color guru" and author of the recently published "Pantone: The 20th Century in Color"—says that the spirit of this cheerful color, Tangerine Tango (what Pantone calls it) is ripe for adding bright and sunny orange-colored stone jewelry to your wardrobe, too.

In fact, it's a must, she says. "To be up-to-date this year, you need to bring orange into your wardrobe. And one of the best ways to start is by popping your neutrals with vibrant tangerine-toned accessories and jewelry." Eiseman says she made it a priority to buy her self a dramatic brooch with a bright orange gemstone as soon as she saw so much of the high-octane hue lighting up spring's runways. Indeed, from Tommy Hilfiger to Versace to Michael Kors, tangerine ready-to-wear is on fire—sunset-shaded pants, tops, and dresses are alight everywhere! Lucky for us jewelry lovers, so, too, are the "tangerine-toned" jewelry offerings. And the extra -bright news is that, like the growing number of clothing lines offering a price point for everyone, many jewelry collections with pumpkin, curry, and cinnamon colored stones have pieces ranging from very affordable to one-of-a-kind luxury.

Do remember, though, that while tangerine "squeezed out" others as the year's number-one fashion and accessorizing color, there are some additional hues that Pantone points to as also important. They include several hyper brights as well as a few less-in-your-face grounding colors—more muted but by no means somber. Eiseman says, "It's important to create your own personal style and mix 'n match the other top shades with your orange. You'll be surprised how well tangerine goes with many of them."

Let's Talk Tangerine

To begin, just as orange is located between red and yellow on a color wheel, that's how Eiseman explains Pantone's Color of the Year: "Tangerine Tango's 'mother colors' are red and yellow, so tangerine has the excitement of red and the approachability of yellow. It's a sophisticated color that many high-end international brands like Hermes and Etro have focused on for years. But it's taken America longer to look at orange that way."

Remember the Hermes' ginger-hued Birken bags or Etro's iconic paisley pattern on cayenne-colored leather purses? In the same fashion, many contemporary American jewelry brands are now fashioning delicious collections replete with pieces spotlighting gems in intense colors like pumpkin, spice, cinnamon, and curry. From versatile jewelry with affordable stones like carnelian, coral, and jasper, to one-of-a-kind confections with stones such as fire opal, mandarin garnet, and fancy orange sapphire, there's "tangerine" jewelry for every taste and budget. Other luscious orangey-reds and red-oranges—many in the mid-price range—include spessartite garnet, spinel, and red agate.

Not-So-Mellow Yellow

This year, yellow is one of the perfect complement colors to orange. (In fact, with some orange gems, you can actually see alluring hints of yellow in them.) This year, Pantone labels their leading warm-weather yellow Solar Power . An eye-opening primary like Tangerine Tango, it, too, is fresh and bold and a favorite of many design leaders this year, for example, American fashion house Bill Blass, which focuses its spring collection on vivid yellow, giving it the moniker, Cyber Yellow. A good rule-of-thumb in 2012? "Two brights look right." So be sure to layer yellow gemstone jewelry into your tangerine wardrobe for both summer and winter. Consider primary-yellow gems such as fancy yellow sapphire, citrine, and topaz. But also ask your jeweler to show you some of the many subdued yellow gems like amber, chrysoberyl, and yellow moonstone—all three look fabulous cut into big translucent cabochon shapes.

The Green Initiative

Another of the year's important brights actually has an under tone of yellow: It's a yellow-green that Pantone has christened Margarita. Yes, margarita as in the cocktail, but somewhat quieter and a bit less citrus-y. And also like the cocktail, it's something to mix ! Eiseman says, "To freshen up every wardrobe this year, I recommend mixing Margarita green and Tangerine Tango orange. Some strong green gem favorites among jewelry designers this year are agate, garnet, tourmaline, jade, quartz, green amethyst, and peridot.

Oh, and yes, also a gem fast-becoming the darling of many a designer's eye: Zultanite. This transparent diaspore gem—rare because it's found only in Turkey —has intriguing color-changing properties—turning from kiwi green to champagne brown to raspberry pink as you look at it! So if you're committed to treating yourself this year with jewelry in a trending color that's unusual and also a real conversation-starter, Zultanite is a great choice.

There is a second green that Pantone suggests working into your tangerine this year: Cockatoo. Not in the typical bold palette for Twenty-Twelve, it's more like the pale green of a honeydew rather than the bright green of a lime. Most fashion designers this year are referring to it as "seafoam." From Rachel Roy and Rodarte to Vera Wang and Tory Burch, the light and airy pastel is important in ready-to-wear—and dazzling when paired with green gems, bright or otherwise. The lucid and soothing shades of chrysoprase and green moonstone, especially when cut in cabochons, are beautiful accessory options—and unusual, as you definitely won't see all of your friends also wearing these special stones!

Perfect Pinks

And what warm-weather wardrobe would be complete without a portion of pink? This year's hit pink is, in fact, hot pink—what Pantone classifies as Cabaret. You see it this spring/summer looking very seductive and sexy, for example, on Christian Louboutin's stilettos. Other fashion leaders give pink a more cosmetic-like appearance--like Badgley Mischka with their newest sandals and heels. Whether deep or pale, the spectrum of pink gems is enchanting. Fancy sapphire, tourmaline, rubellite, raspberry quartz, pink chalcedony, morganite, and pink moonstone are all worth looking into.

The Newest Neutrals

Finally, to tone things down—but only if you feel you absolutely must!—there are the trending taupes and the new blues of 2012. Driftwood and Starfish are two neutrals in the latte family that give warmth to the livelier oranges, yellows, greens, and pinks, while Sodalite is Pantone's top blue for the first half of the year, a color that Eiseman notes is "fresh but not too out-there. It's somewhere between navy and royal blue--very indigo. Sodalite is a classic color. If you look at a color wheel, it's directly across from orange. So wearing Tangerine Tango with Sodalite this year is key to on-trend style." Some of the more subtle blue gems are labradorite, moonstone, chalcedony, and aquamarine, while some of the more intense, brighter blue hues include sapphire, iolite, blue topaz, tanzanite, and lapis.

So that's the direction for 2012, Eiseman says, emphasizing they are guidelines, not rules, "Because where color is concerned, I don't like to use the world rules. Instead, follow the guidelines of the leading colors, then be adventurous and choose something from within them that you'd never before thought about!"

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