Are Silver and Gray Colors?

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Some time ago there was interesting banter on a Color Marketing Group site about whether silver was a color and opinions were flying around like bees on honey. I don’t think there was a clear winner as experts from all over chimed in with their views on the subject. There was the opinion that silver was a finish not a color and from left field was thrown the idea that silver was a neutral like gray and therefore not considered a color. So now we have two controversies, are silver and gray colors?

A neutral is defined as “being without color” and you would think that gray falls into the neutral category. However, most grays in the paint industry are made with lamp black, a very blue cast black. Since it is blue cast any amount of it will add blue to the formula or will make it a “cool” gray. Another source of black colorant is carbon black which is less blue than lamp black but used less frequently. I have found the most neutral grays are found at the junction of red violet and blue violet, being a neutral between a warm and cool color family. There can only be one gray family that is a true neutral as any addition of color changes that color into a definite hue even though it may be imperceptible to the human eye.

Silver, in my opinion, is a gray with a metallic finish. If there is such a thing as warm silver and cool silver, or even a green, blue or whatever silver then how can silver not be a color? Stainless steel can be anything from a cool hue to a warm hue depending on the manufacturer, but since they are all silver they are considered neutrals, which is why they fit so well into all environments.

Pat Verlodt

Categories: Color Trends, Selecting Colors

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