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What is the color shade of amber?

What is the color shade of amber?

Amber is a golden yellow to brownish orange color that is often associated with the fossilized tree resin of the same name. The exact shade of amber can vary considerably, from a light translucent yellow to a darker, richer orange-brown. Determining the precise color spectrum of amber poses a complex question, as the pigmentation arises from a variety of organic compounds and impurities that can alter its hue and saturation. However, there are some key characteristics that define the classic amber color.

The Origins of Amber Color

Amber derives its warm golden-orange color from the natural fossilized tree resins, or crude oil, in which it originates. Over millions of years, the organic compounds in the resins undergo polymerization and oxidation reactions, altering their chemical composition and resulting in the saturated, opaque hue we associate with amber. The primary source of amber’s color is oxidation of the sesquiterpenes, triterpenes, and diterpenes that make up the resin. These hydrocarbon compounds contain conjugated double bonds that absorb light in the blue/violet end of the visible spectrum, imparting a yellow/orange appearance. The specific compounds and impurities present dictate the exact shading.

The Color Spectrum of Natural Amber

There are over 120 classified types of amber, each with its own distinctive coloration based on its botanical source and geological history. However, amber can be broadly categorized into 5 main color varieties:

Yellow Amber

Yellow amber is the lightest variety. It ranges from rich lemon yellow to light honey brown in tone. This amber obtains its bright color from a high concentration of succinic acid. Baltic amber is typically pale yellow.

Orange Amber

As its name suggests, this variety has a distinctly orange hue, ranging from golden orange to reddish orange. It has a high concentration of sulfur due to microbial action. Dominican amber commonly exhibits this vibrant orange color.

Red Amber

Red amber contains the largest amounts of sulfur and takes on a deep ruby red or brownish red color. It is also referred to as “cherry amber.” Myanmar amber is often a vivid blood red.

Green Amber

Green amber gets its distinctive color from the presence of iron salts. It can range from olive green to a rare bluish green. Green amber is mainly found in the Dominican Republic.

Black Amber

Black amber is the darkest variety. It occurs when amber experiences extended heating and pressure over millions of years, resulting in a dense black color. Jet is a form of black amber.

The Amber Color Code

The specific hex color code for amber is #FFBF00. This hex code signifies a vibrant orange shade with the following RGB values:

Red 255
Green 191
Blue 0

The red and green values give amber its distinctly warm golden-orange tone, while the lack of blue results in its saturated hue. This hex code represents the typical mid-range orange amber found in jewelry. Lighter yellow amber would have higher green values, while darker reddish amber would have higher red values.

Amber Color Palettes

Amber can be paired with a variety of colors to create appealing palettes. Here are some popular combinations:

Earthy tones: Amber goes well with other natural, organic hues like mossy greens, rich browns, and creams. This creates an earthy, rustic palette.

Blue accents: Complementary blue tones really make amber pop. Try pairing amber with light sky blues, navy, or robin’s egg.

Neutrals: For a calming palette, amber works nicely with creams, taupes, tans, and warm grays. This enhances its natural tone.

Metallics: The golden glow of amber complements shimmering metals like gold, bronze, and copper.

Black and white: High contrast black and whiteaccent amber well. The mix of warm and cool provides visual interest.

Amber Color Psychology

Amber has a warm, inviting aura that elicits several psychological responses:

Optimism: The cheerful golden glow of amber evokes a positive, upbeat feeling. It’s associated with hope and sunshine.

Warmth: Amber’s cozy orange-brown hue gives off a friendly, welcoming vibe. It’s reminiscent of hearth and home.

Clarity: In crystal healing, amber is believed to provide mental clarity and balance emotions. Its golden color represents purification.

Creativity: Amber’s natural, organic source inspires the imagination. Its warm hue stimulates creative flow.

Wisdom: As fossilized tree resin, amber seems to contain the knowledge of the ancients. Its color denotes learnedness.

Amber Gemstones

As a gemstone, amber is prized for its warm coloring and natural beauty. Here are some key facts about amber gems:

  • Amber gems can contain ancient organisms and materials trapped within, providing a scenic view into history.
  • The highest quality amber gems are transparent with little cloudiness, though some cloudy varieties have their own appeal.
  • Jewelry-grade amber is often polished rather than left raw to allow its warm color to better shine through.
  • Baltic amber, from fossilized pine resin, is the most abundant variety used in jewelry and beads.
  • The largest amber gem on record is The Americas Amber with dimensions of 67 x 43 x 30 cm and weight of 33 lbs.
  • Amber gems are delicate and require careful handling. They are typically set in silver or gold rather than harder metals.

The Use of Amber Color

Amber color has a variety of applications:

Decor: In home decor, amber hues give a warm, inviting look to walls, textiles, furniture, and accessories. Paint companies like Sherwin-Williams have entire amber color lines.

Jewelry: Amber is used in fine jewelry, casual jewelry, and beadwork. Its golden glow adds simple elegance. Baltic amber necklaces are especially popular.

Clothing: In fashion, amber adds a rich, fall-inspired color as accents on bags, shoes, and clothing. Designers like Prada utilize amber shades.

Cosmetics: For makeup, amber works nicely as eyeshadows, lipsticks, blushes, and nail polishes. It’s flattering on a range of skin tones.

Cars: Amber colors are popular for luxury vehicles. Car companies ranging from Jaguar to Lamborghini offer amber-themed automobiles.

Food: As a natural, organic shade, amber is often used in food packaging and marketing. It elicits an earthy, wholesome feeling.

Amber Color Substitutions

If an exact amber shade isn’t readily available, there are some viable color substitutes:

  • Orange: A vibrant orange comes closest to capturing amber’s golden essence.
  • Gold: Metallic gold, while cooler, can evoke a similar luminosity.
  • Yellow: Soft yellow is in the same color family and works in a pinch.
  • Brown: For deeper amber hues, a mix of orange and brown could suffice.
  • Peach: Peach tones down amber’s brightness while retaining its warmth.

When substituting, consider the amber shade needed for the application and test out options to achieve the closest match. Adjusting brightness, saturation, and warmth helps fine-tune alternate hues.


Amber color ranges from sunny yellow to ruby red, encompassing a diverse spectrum of golden, orange, and brownish hues. Its signature shade is a vibrant orange gold. Amber gets its natural coloring from ancient fossilized tree resins containing organic compounds altered over time through polymerization and oxidation. This results in a warm, saturated tone that has decorative, symbolic, and healing associations. Whether used in fashion, design, or gemstones, amber’s golden glow conveys optimism and creativity. With its organic origins and rich hue, amber color retains an enduring, elemental appeal.