Blue is a lovely color. In English, the color is often associated with sadness, as in the phrase "I am feeling blue." But, like all colors, it has happy and positive connotations, too. Light shades often used for baby boys, are considered refreshing and friendly, while dark tones are considered to be more strong and masculine, like those used in Navy uniforms.
Blue beads are no different in their versatility of meaning. In prayer beads, for instance, it is associated with peace and has spiritual and religious connotations — hence why the Virgin Mary is usually shown wearing cobalt robes. Blue is believed to be the most masculine of colors, just ahead of black.
Along with masculinity, it is the tone that is most commonly associated with imagination and harmony. Surveys of Europeans and Americans have shown that it is the most popular “favorite” color, chosen by about half of both men and women polled. Consequently, cobalt bead-work has many of the same connotations.
The History of Blue
Blue is an important pigment in art since it was historically very hard to obtain. Blue, you may be surprised to learn, is a pigment that is difficult to make. This may seem counter-intuitive: after all, we see it all the time in the sky and the water. However, the tone of the sky is not the result of the same process that makes a tangible mineral.
Light reflection involves the properties of the color wheel, while light emission (like what the screen you’re reading this on is doing) is a different process.
As a result, original blues has to rely on rare and expensive materials: in ancient times, lapis lazuli was used in Egypt for jewelry. During the Renaissance, ultramarine was used, and it was the most expensive of all pigments.
Chinese artists used the mineral cobalt to make the pigment in their fine white porcelain products. Eventually, indigo dye from America became commonly used to dye textiles, but it was not until the 19th century that synthetic dyes and pigments were created and widely adopted. The most common is Prussian: the same chemical hue with which architectural blueprints were made early in the 20th century.
Dark cobalt would subsequently become a common color for military uniforms, and later, in the late 20th century, for business suits. Blue beads today are often made from these same synthetic dyes.
Blue’s Unique Properties
Unlike other popular colors (such as red), this is considered a cool tone on the color wheel. Therefore, the personal interpretation of the color is dependent on the exact shade and hues used in the bead work or in the art piece as a whole.
Light blues are often perceived as being relaxed and calming while brighter shades are seen as being energizing and refreshing. Dark blues, like navy, are excellent for creating a perception of strength and reliability, and because the color connotes harmony, it is often used in flags, such as those of the U.K., the U.S., and the E.U.
Don’t let this luxurious tone pass you by! We carry all manner of beads, so there’s sure to be something that you like.