Jewel Intentions

Jewel Intentions


Emerald green, sapphire blue, ruby red—jewel tones have a depth as rich as the stones from which they take their cue. “The energy of these colors—in all of their saturated glory—is recalibrating the palettes for interiors, replacing the ‘greige,’ milky, and muted tones of the past few years,” says Jane Landino, creative head of London-based Taylor Howes Designs.

“More homeowners and designers are taking risks and experimenting with color,” says Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at paint company Sherwin-Williams. “Color palettes are evolving to include a wider variety of hues.”

Glamour, drama, and dimension—jewel tones have myriad effects, Landino says. They “add a feeling of luxuriousness in a scheme, be it a rich burgundy velvet-lined cinema room or a teal blue wool blanket, making it feel cozy and intimate,” she says. “Jewel-toned interiors just feel more interesting.”

Strategic Touches

If you’re nervous about strong colors overwhelming a space, simply adding small touches—a sofa or accent chair, a table lamp, sofa cushions, or vases in jewel tones, offset with artwork in similar hues to tie it all together—can lend a pop of color and personality into a more neutral space, Landino says.

“Velvets and satins translate beautifully in jewel tones because of the sheen and richness of the fabric—and woven patterns also help to create a timeless feel,” says New Jersey-based interior designer Karen B. Wolf. “Deep navy hues are a new neutral, so upholstering a large sofa in a jewel tone like navy is a safe way to create a base to pop other accents off of and to ground the room.”

In the same respect, if you just can’t dedicate all walls to a bold tone, opt for an accent wall, paint kitchen cabinets or islands, window shutters, or the front door, Wadden says. Or, incorporate touches like throw pillows, blankets, and rugs that you can easily switch out.

More homeowners are using rich paint colors to add drama to their rooms
More homeowners are using rich paint colors to add drama to their rooms.

Erika Woelfel, color expert at Behr Paint, suggests layering your cabinets in a rich emerald hue and adding antique brass fixtures and black décor to enhance the drama.

Dining rooms, home offices, or powder rooms make great spaces to experiment with color, since they’re rooms we spend less time in than, say, a bedroom or living room, Wadden says.

Going Bold

Jewel tones “lend themselves well to maximalist looks where rich colors, textures, and patterns are layered in an eclectic room setting,” Woelfel says. “Bold hues like deep sapphire, indigo, and emerald typically feel a touch more formal and can transform a room into a cozy space for relaxation or enhance visual interest for entertaining.”

Consider layering different shades from the same color family, such as cobalt and navy or hunter green and emerald for a monochromatic look, Woelfel says. “Paint walls, trim, and molding the same color and sheen for a seamless background, and if you’re wanting to soften the look of the space, add a warm neutral,” she says.

Landino prefers using bold color combinations in smaller, darker spaces to make an impact. “For a recent project, we installed a paneled study in a dark petrol blue complete with matching leather-covered window shutters, as well as a Moroccan-inspired garnet red cinema room with a sapphire blue starry night sky and overscaled patterned fabric walling,” she notes. “A simple and effective way to go bold is to add a strong color to a ceiling, which you could follow onto the walls and skirting. Darker colors recede and will actually make a room look larger,” Landino says.

Karen B. Wolf goes for jewel tones both in large furniture and complementary accessories.
Karen B. Wolf goes for jewel tones both in large furniture and complementary accessories

Pairing Makes Perfect

Don’t be afraid to pair multiple jewel tones together, Woelfel says. “Rather than using just one shade in a room, try using two or three varying shades of the same color.” You can also opt for complementary color families and use two colors that are directly opposite of each other on the color wheel, such as sapphire and gold, Woelfel notes.

“Jewel tones always work best when paired together with colors of equal depth. For example, rich sapphire blue color blocks work well with complementary colors like citrine, amethyst, and emerald green for an ideal pairing,” Landino says.

Wadden’s favorite finishes to pair with jewel tones are deep woods and warm metallics, such as brass or rose gold. “Together they make a space feel very glam and upscale,” she says. “Alternatively, pairing jewel tones with crisp whites keeps things feeling fresh with a dramatic flair.”

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