The Color Brown
Like black and white, brown isn’t a color of the light spectrum, and is considered a neutral color. In painting, brown is created by mixing different colors, usually with varying amounts of black and white.
Especially in gemstones, some feel that brown isn’t a color in itself but should belong in the low saturation range of colors like red and yellow. The images above show the range of color in brown topaz.
In fashion, the popular “classic” browns tend to have a strong element of yellow and orange. Brown tones are subdued, low-key, and also classic, though less formally so than black. Though considered a fairly conservative and serious color, it has a warm effect from the influence of reds and yellows.
Names of color variations in the general category of “brown” are russet, ocher, sienna, sepia, umber, tan and beige. It’s also chocolate, coffee, au lait, mocha, and caramel, associated with delicious food and sometimes to describe skin coloration.
In countries with four seasons, brown is linked to autumn with its changing leaf colors. In the US, it’s associated with the Thanksgiving holiday. The most universal and enduring association to the color brown is earth, especially in the sense of plowed land and soil.
Usually Brown: Andalusite*, Bronzite*, Sardonyx*, Tiger’s Eye*
Sometimes Brown: Agate, Amber, Aventurine Quartz, Carnelian, Cassiterite, Chrysoberyl, Citrine, Diamond, Hessonite Garnet, Jasper*, Imperial Topaz, Mahogany Obsidian*, Zircon
Brown Pearls are usually freshwater pearls that have been dyed, though there is a rare saltwater pearl among the dark Tahitians that is naturally brownish, while the ones known as “Chocolate Pearls” are artificially treated to darken the color.
An interesting brown stone used as an amulet is Chiastolite, known also as Star Andalusite or the Cross Stone because of its vivid black cross formation. Smoky Quartz has a color somewhere between brown and grey. Boulder Opal is usually composed of predominantly brown matrix shot through with vivid streaks of opal.
Browns predominate in jewelry components classified as “natural”: claws and talons, horn, nut, seed, shell, tusks and wood, as well as cords like hemp, cotton, sinew and leather.
* Typically a variegated gem.