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What is the complementary color to gold?

What is the complementary color to gold?

Gold is a bright, warm color that evokes feelings of wealth, luxury, and happiness. When looking at the color wheel, the complementary color – or the color directly across from gold – is a cool, deep purple. Understanding color theory and how complementary colors interact can help create balanced and aesthetically pleasing color combinations in design, fashion, and beyond.

Defining Complementary Colors

In color theory, complementary colors are any two colors opposite each other on the color wheel. Red and green, blue and orange, and purple and yellow are examples of complementary pairs. These opposing colors create maximum contrast when placed next to each other. This strong visual contrast is what makes complementary colors stand out when used together. However, complementaries can also bring balance when used carefully in a composition. The high contrast makes both colors “pop” more than if they were used alone.

On the standard color wheel, gold sits between yellow and orange. Looking across the wheel, the complement to gold’s warm goldenrod hue is a cooler, deep purple shade. Some specific shades that complement gold well include royal purple, amethyst, or plum. The contrast of the warm metallic gold against the cool jewel tones of purple makes for an eye-catching combination.

The Color Wheel

To understand complementary colors, it helps to visualize the color wheel. The basic color wheel consists of 12 distinct hues – 3 primary colors, 3 secondary colors, and 6 tertiary colors. The primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. Secondary colors are created by mixing two primary colors together, forming orange, green, and purple. Tertiary colors are made by mixing a primary and secondary color, resulting in shades like red-orange, blue-violet, and yellow-green.

On the wheel, complementary colors sit directly across from each other. This positioning reveals how truly different and contrasting the hues are. For example, red and green couldn’t be more opposing, which is exactly what makes them complements. The high contrast creates visual interest and vibrancy when used together. It also explains why red and green seem to “vibrate” or pull the eye when placed side by side.

Complementary Color Pairs
Red & Green
Blue & Orange
Yellow & Purple

While the basic color wheel only shows 12 main hues, in reality there are infinite shades and tints within each color family. So any shade of red will have a complementary shade of green, for example. This means gold’s complement isn’t one set purple shade, but rather the range of cool, deep purples opposite gold on the expanded color wheel.

The Properties of Complementary Colors

Complementary colors have a special relationship both visually and scientifically. When it comes to light physics, they essentially “cancel each other out.” This means that complements are opposites on the color spectrum. When combined, complementary colors produce a neutral gray or brown tone. For example, red and green light blended together make a dull brown. This is because our eyes receive neither the long red or short green wavelengths when both are present.

In terms of visual effects, placing complements side-by-side makes both colors appear more vibrant and intense. This is due to the high contrast and lack of shared hues between the colors. Purple intensifies the warmth of gold, while gold makes purple shine. Using tiny accents of a complement can make for dynamic results.

Too much complementary color can be jarring, however. Placing large areas of complements next to each other causes vibration and eye fatigue. But when used carefully, often with one color dominating, complements bring out the best in each other for bold, balanced color combinations.

Gold’s Complementary Colors

So purple is clearly gold’s complementary color, but there are many shades of purple that have a special affinity for gold. Deep plums, jewel tones, and wines nicely contrast gold’s radiance. Here are some specific shades that complement gold beautifully:

  • Royal purple
  • Amethyst
  • Plum
  • Eggplant
  • Wine
  • Magenta
  • Fuchsia

These cool, deep purples balance the warm golden undertones of gold. They bring out gold’s shine without overwhelming it. Rich burgundies and wines also pair well with the metallic element. These darker tones allow the gold to stand out and pop against the backdrop. Lighter purples like lilac and lavender can sometimes clash or get washed out next to bold golden hues.

Using Gold and Purple Together

When using gold and purple in design or fashion, it helps to choose one color as dominant and use the complement as accents. For example, a deep plum wall would be stunning with golden picture frames, lamps, or other décor. On clothing, gold jewelry pops against purples, wines, and plums. Or for events, gold tableware with purple linen or napkins makes for an elegant, regal aesthetic.

Some tips for working with gold and purple complements include:

  • Pick purple in a darker, deeper shade to contrast light gold
  • Use metallic gold to stand out against matte purple fabrics or backgrounds
  • Add purple as an accent in small doses to let gold shine
  • Try combining the colors in floral arrangements or tablescapes
  • Paint walls or furniture purple and decorate with golden accessories

Similar shades like bronzes, coppers, and brass also pair well with purples. And while true complementary colors work best, analogous cooler tones like blues and greens can also accent gold nicely. Avoid matching gold with warm reds and oranges, however, as these lack enough contrast.

Achieving Color Harmony

Complementary colors may seem unlikely pairs at first, but their stark contrast is exactly what helps unify them into balanced, harmonious palettes. Gold’s natural complement, purple, happens to be the perfect regal partner for the gilded hue. When used thoughtfully, this cool, deep purple makes warm golden tones shine in designs from fashion to furniture and more by providing an ideal color contrast. So don’t be afraid to get creative and use shades of purple to make the gold in your own palette pop.