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How to work with jewel colours

From the Resene decorating blog

Jewel colours are a perennial favourite in our decorating choices.

One reason for their ongoing popularity is their versatility. They can be bold statements of personality, glamorous and dramatic conversation starters, or simply turn a chilly, plain room into something comforting and inviting.

Here are some ideas for using Resene jewel colours in your home.

A luxurious lounge using jewel tones

A mix of deep jewel tones with brighter highlights and plush textures create a luxurious retreat.

Walls painted in Resene Atlas, doors, architraves and tapered pot in Resene Indian Ink, floor in Resene Colorwood Mid Greywash, coffee table in Resene She’ll Be Right with legs in Resene Wishing Well, tray inside the table in Resene Wild Thing and yellow vases in Resene Cleopatra. Sofa and ottoman in Contempa, rug from Designer Rugs, copper vessels from Freedom, cushions from Katrina Hobbs Design. Project by Megan Harrison-Turner, image by Bryce Carleton.

A deep green sitting area

Hints of metallic and muted stripes lift this deep green sitting area.

Walls painted in Resene Palm Green, floor in Resene Greige, striped cabinet in Resene Double Spanish White with Resene Vintage and green plant pot in Resene Cutty Sark. Velvet chair, cushion and ottoman from Contempa, lamp from Freedom, candle from Illumina. Project by Annick Larkin, image by Bryce Carleton.

What are jewel colours? (And why do we love them?)

Traditionally jewel colours are those that represent the colours of precious gems – emerald green like Resene Moxie, ruby red like Resene Livewire and sapphire blue like Resene Submerge.

They also include the bold shades of semi-precious stones, such as amethyst purples like Resene Couture, garnet hues of coppery brown like Resene Fahrenheit, rich topaz golds like Resene Pirate Gold and sunbaked turquoise like Resene Pelorus among others.

This DNA in precious and semi-precious stones does give jewel colours an intrinsic association with luxury, sophistication and glamour. This is amplified when they’re partnered in interior designs with metallics and plush fabrics to transform any room into a luxury den.

Alternatively paired with the right neutrals, jewel tones can be a light, bright fresh oasis of colour in an otherwise pared back palette.

The other reason we keep coming back to jewel colours is that their highly pigmented, colour-saturated hues with often warm tones allow us to express our love of colour without overloading the senses.

They manage to be both dramatic and calming – which makes them ideal for use in our home interiors.

A charcoal bedroom with muted amethyst and deep teal shades

Charcoal shades take the lead in this bedroom, but muted amethyst and deep teal touches and textures prevent it becoming overwhelming.

Walls painted in Resene Gunsmoke, floor in Resene Avalanche, drawers in Resene Chapta And Verse, tall vase in Resene Steam Roller, medium vase in Resene Mamba and small vase in Resene Couture. Cushion from Contempa, platter from Freedom, rug and bedlinen from Indie Home Collective. Project by Claudia Kozub, image by Melanie Jenkins.

A light and modern living room

These plush velvet cushions in jewelled tones add richness to this light, modern living room.

Walls painted in Resene Nepal and Resene FX Paint Effects Medium mixed with Resene Frozen, floor in Resene Blanc, round coffee table in Resene Tuscany and taller console in Resene Bokara Grey. Ceramics from Formantics, artwork by Maiko Nagao, candlesticks from Power Surge, dried flowers from Wandering Willow, lamp from Lighting Plus, sofa from Wolf & Co, rug from Good Thing, cushions and throws from Adairs. Project by Melle van Sambeek, image by Bryce Carleton.

Double down on luxury

It’s hard to beat jewel colours for creating an atmosphere of sophisticated luxury – whether you opt for one shade and layer it with textiles and lighting, or go full jewel by matching a range of different rich tones together.

When it comes to soft furnishings, double down on sumptuous, tactile fabrics such as fake fur, soft wool, satin, silk, velvet and suede. These can be either in different shades of complementary jewel colours or opt for darker neutrals in greige and charcoal for warmth. Creamy whites and soft taupes are a nice contrast. Leather furniture also works well in a jewelled interior.

Metallics are a natural fit for the luxury of jewel tones. Try for splashes of burnished gold in Resene Gold or Resene Gold Dust with jewelled purples such as Resene Blackcurrant or deep blues such as Resene St Kilda. Coppers like Resene Goldmine or Resene Blast Yellow work well with the turquoise of Resene Calypso and the dark pink of Resene Lip Service.

When using metallics as highlights, stick to one metallic for the best impact. A mix of metallics can get a bit confusing for the eye. And aim for one finish on your metallics – either brushed matt or shiny.

Coloured glass is another effective way to emphasise luxury. Use it in light fittings to cast different tones around your room, and add touches in vases, plant pots and ornaments.

Wallpaper is a fantastic tool to have in your decorating kit with jewel colours. Painted anaglypta wallpapers such as Resene Anaglypta Collection RD101 add a swirl of texture to the walls. This works particularly well if you’re layering different shades of one jewel colour as it gives your eye some detail to pick out from a more monochrome palette.

Alternatively, choose a wallpaper with jewel-toned highlights such as Resene Komar Heritage Wallpaper Collection HX7-056 to evoke some Victorian era luxury or use wallpaper with metallic touches like Resene Elodie Wallpaper Collection 1907-140-07.

A jewel toned statement couch

A bold rectangle shape in the deep gold of Resene Hot Toddy perfectly echoes and frames this jewel-toned statement couch. Dark greige and charcoal tones intensify the spotlight on the couch. Back wall painted in Resene Nero, peg stool and tabletop in Resene Half Gravel, and table legs in Resene Double Merino. Couch by Contempa, artwork from Endemic World. Project by Megan Harrison-Turner, image by Melanie Jenkins.

A jewel toned outdoor area

Jewelled tones turn this outdoor area into a relaxed beachy hangout echoing the sea, palm trees and sand with walls painted in Resene She’ll Be Right, chair in Resene Left Field, peg stools in Resene Freelance (rear) and Resene Sea Crest, side table in Resene Discover and green plant pot in Resene Left Field. Project by Megan Harrison, image by Melanie Jenkins.

Think about finish

A glossier paint finish will add an extra note of old-school glamour to jewel colour schemes. A matt finish will add a fresher, modern touch to your jewelled palette. Matt surfaces absorb light and will appear darker than glossy reflective surfaces. Darker jewel colours look velvety and rich in a matt finish – try Resene SpaceCote Flat. Light colours and glossy finishes help make a room appear larger, while darker colours, heavier textures and matt finishes help make the room seem cosier.

Also think about your choice of neutrals. Warmer, yellow toned whites such as Resene Half Pearl Lusta will give your jewel palette a slightly warmer, lived-in feel. Cooler whites such as Resene Black White are great for a more minimalist, crisp effect.

Heirloom jewels

Combining the right jewel tones can create breath-taking dramatic spaces, but it can be daunting if you’re used to playing with a more neutral colour palette. Make good use of Resene testpots to experiment, you might be surprised how well a lot of these shades work well together. You can also think beyond ‘traditional’ jewel colours to work with any deep, colour-saturated hue like burnt orange or chocolate brown.

Here are some classic jewel combinations to consider:

Top tip:  Unsure where to start matching different jewel tones? Pick a fabulous piece of furniture in a deep, saturated hue and pair it with layers of greige in Resene Armadillo or cream tones using Resene Whipped Cream. It’s like shining a spotlight on your signature piece.

A note about charcoal

Charcoal might be almost the opposite of a precious gem but its earthy intensity makes jewel colours really pop. Try Resene Charcoal, Resene Revolver or Resene Gun Powder. These shades work particularly well with mustardy golds such as Resene Hot Toddy and burnt oranges like Resene Vesuvius, but are good partners for a lot of other jewel tones as well.

Charcoal’s near cousin greige – an on-trend blend between beige and grey – also works well with most of the jewel palette, particularly in darker shades. Try metallic Resene Blast Grey 3 or simpler Resene Half Friar Greystone which goes well with deep greens such as Resene Feverpitch.

Resene Half Friar Greystone

Resene Colorwood Mid Greywash

Resene Cleopatra

June 10, 2021

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