Pantone’s Color of The Year 2018: Ultra-Violet’s past, present and future…

Simon Teakle’s antique girandole earrings with amethyst and citrine

Purple is the color of European nobility and is associated with numerous social and cultural places and events. From our music legends -think Prince and Jimmy Hendrix to movies which feature the vivid shade as part of their titles  (The Color Purple and Purple Rain).  It was one of the anti-establishment hues of the ’60s and is believed to have curative and healing powers.

And, for 2018, one permutation of purple is Pantone’s color of the year, Ultra Violet. Think of all the February babies and the creativity that will surround their birthstone-Amethyst. We saw purple all over the runways for spring 2018 in every permutation from vibrant to more pastel. However, the way Ultra-Violet predominantly translates into jewelry iswith medium to dark amethyst and certain shades of enamel and purple sapphire accents.

Vice President of the Pantone Color Institute Laurie Pressman says, “As individuals around the world become more fascinated with color and realize its ability to convey deep messages and meanings, designers and brands should feel empowered to use color to inspire and influence.”

And that makes sense. It was once a color associated with the counter-culture of the 60s’ and again in the 80’s and continues to evoke originality, artistry and symbolism. Spiritually, it is a color, connected with curative and healing powers, and to the third eye chakra, representing intuition and wisdom.

Jamie Joseph amethyst stone rings

And this shade, Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute explains is “ the most complex of all colors… it takes two shades that are seemingly diametrically opposed — blue and red — and brings them together to create something new.”

Art Deco amethyst and diamond brooch at James Robinson

Moreover, it has a rich history.  The imperial color purple was worn by the rulers of the Byzantine and Holy Roman Empires, thus amethyst became associated with Ecclesiastical jewels and European aristocracy, adorning the fingers of bishops as well as the coronation regalia of British royalty. The 19th-century discovery of a large deposit of amethyst in Brazil lowered the cost, allowing large amethysts to be set more frequently into jewelry throughout the 20th century.

S.J. Phillips amethyst paste Georgian necklace

When we talk about the curative and healing properties of amethysts, we go back to Greek legends that associated amethyst with Bacchus, the god of wine, which the color of amethyst resembled. It was believed that wearing amethyst prevented drunkenness—this branched out into a broader meaning of clear-headed and quick-witted thinking in battle and in business affairs. Often seen as a stone of peace and calming, it was thought to soothe nightmares. From the 20th century until present times amethyst is thought to calm the mind and keep it clear and centered while opening to spiritual direction. The use of crystals for healing has persisted from ancient through modern times and it hit a high note during the psychedelic ‘60s and freethinking ‘70s. Amethyst was not only part of the culture, worn in the rough as amulets on leather cording, but it was used once again for its curative powers.

Variance Objects amethyst ring

From a pure jewelry perspective, more and more Georgian and Victorian pieces are turning up various antique shows. These include Georgian and diamond rivières, foil-backed rings, noble-looking crosses and wide bracelets adorned with intricate gold work such as cannetille and tiny granulation as well as big, bold stones for cocktail rings in retro through mid-century jewelry.

S.J. Phillips antique amethyst drop earrings


On the other modern end of the spectrum, contemporary designers are rocking big, gutsy cuts and of this gemstone, featuring myriad shapes of amethysts including, exclusive cuts, cylinder shapes, large rose cuts and chunky cabochons to name just a few.

Whether you go for the color in a gemstone as close to Ultra-Violet as you can find, you are a February baby or you just plain love the vibrancy of gem quality amethyst, the stones are sure to bring a smile to your face and as the Pantone experts say, “It’s a dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade….which communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us towards the future.” And we all need something to brighten up and offer a new way of seeing and understanding in the year to come.