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Is red a jewel tone?

Red is a bold, powerful color that evokes strong emotions. But is it considered a jewel tone? Jewel tones are rich, deep colors that are reminiscent of gemstones. Typically, jewel tones include royal blues, emerald greens, rich purples, and deep reds. So while red can certainly be a jewel tone, not all shades of red fall into this category.

What are jewel tones?

Jewel tones are saturated, intense colors that are named after precious stones and gems. Some examples of established jewel tones include:

  • Sapphire – A rich, deep blue
  • Emerald – A vivid green
  • Ruby – A bold, intensely red
  • Amethyst – A luxurious purple
  • Topaz – A brilliant yellow or orange
  • Garnet – A lush, red-violet

These colors are valued in gemstones because of their striking hue and depth of color. When translated into fashion and design, jewel tones take on a luxurious, elegant feel. They add drama, richness, and visual interest.

Jewel tones differ from primary colors in their depth and intensity. For example, sapphire is a much deeper blue than primary blue. Ruby is more vibrant than primary red. The pigments used to create jewel tones contain more concentrated doses of the primary color.

What makes a red a jewel tone?

For red to be considered a jewel tone, it needs to have a high degree of saturation and depth. It needs to be bold and intense like a ruby, rather than bright and hot like fire engine red. The red should have a slightly darkened, almost blackened tone to emulate the look of a red gemstone.

Here are some examples of red jewel tones:

  • Burgundy
  • Oxblood
  • Maroon
  • Ruby
  • Crimson
  • Bordeaux

These shades of red have extra depth and vibrancy. They are rich and sumptuous, with an elegance that bright primary red lacks. The darkened undertone gives them a sophisticated, almost exotic feel.

How light and dark red jewel tones differ

Red jewel tones come in both light and dark shades. The lighter reds retain more vibrancy and brightness. The darker reds take on more brown undertones. Here are some examples:

Light Red Jewel Tones Dark Red Jewel Tones
Ruby Oxblood
Cherry Red Merlot
Scarlet Burgundy
Apple Red Maroon
Crimson Bordeaux

The lighter shades retain more brightness from the primary red, while the darker shades take on more brown, purple or blue undertones. But both the light and dark red jewel tones have an attractiveness and intensity that primary reds lack.

How red jewel tones complement other colors

Red jewel tones pair beautifully with both warm neutral colors and other jewel tones. Here are some popular color combinations:

  • Maroon and beige – an elegant, earthy combination
  • Burgundy and navy – a rich, sophisticated pairing
  • Oxblood and charcoal – an intensely moody blend
  • Ruby and emerald – a vibrant, striking jewel tone match
  • Crimson and sapphire – a bold complementary duo

Red jewel tones also stand out against black and white. They create high contrast when paired with gray shades. And they seamlessly match other red tones, from pink to rust to brick.

Their versatility and striking color make them useful for everything from formalwear to graphic designs. They always make a statement.

How lighting affects the perception of red as a jewel tone

The perception of red as a jewel tone can shift under different lighting conditions. Here is how lighting impacts various red hues:

  • Fire engine reds – Remain bright and intense under any lighting
  • Cherry reds – Take on a jewel tone look under dimmer lighting
  • Crimson – Appears richer and more jewel-like in low lighting
  • Burgundy – Maintains its jewel tone look consistently
  • Maroon – Can read as a flat brown in very bright light

So while bright reds retain their primary hue under any conditions, some darkened reds look more strongly jewel-toned when lighting is softened. Bright, direct lighting washes out some of the refined depth of their color.

How red is used as a jewel tone in fashion

Red jewel tones are used extensively in fashion design. They make bold statements in gowns, accents, and accessories. Some signature uses of red jewel tones in fashion include:

  • Ruby colored evening gowns
  • Burgundy pantsuits
  • Maroon accents on black dresses
  • Oxblood leather handbags
  • Scarlet stilettos
  • Deep crimson cocktail dresses

Red is a showstopping color that commands attention. As jewel tones, these red hues add an extra layer of sophistication and intrigue. They are versatile enough to stand on their own as the focal point of an outfit, or to accent neutrals for bold pops of color.

How red is used as a jewel tone in interior design

Red jewel tones can make a dramatic impact in interior spaces. They create an intimate, elegant ambiance. Here are some signature ways jewel tone reds are used in interior design:

  • Ruby or burgundy velvet sofas
  • Maroon dining room walls
  • Crimson throw pillows
  • Deep red curtains
  • Oxblood leather office chairs
  • Red glass lampshades

Dark red jewel tones are especially popular for creating cozy, refined spaces. Their richness pairs beautifully with wood tones, metallics, and neutrals. The depth of color brings warmth and sophistication to any room.


In summary, red can definitely qualify as a jewel tone when it has a high level of saturation. Bold ruby reds and darkened maroon redstake on an elegant, gem-like quality. They provide depth and sophistication to fashion and interior design. Not all reds are jewel tones, but rich variations like oxblood, burgundy, and crimson exemplify the jewelry-inspired essence of this color family. Their striking hues make them versatile accent colors and dramatic stand-alone shades.