How to Use the Color Gold in Graphic Design

A gold color background.

 Petr Kratochvil/Public Domain 

A cousin to yellow (and orange and brown) is gold. While green may be the color of money (U.S. money, that is) gold is the color of riches and extravagance. - Jacci Howard Bear's Desktop Publishing Colors and Color Meanings

The color gold shares many of the attributes of yellow. It is a warm color that can be both bright and cheerful as well as traditional. Gold is an optimistic color that adds warmth to everything it is associated with.

The Meanings of the Color Gold

Because gold is a precious metal, the color gold is associated with wealth and prosperity. While all that glitters is not gold, the color gold still suggests grandeur and—perhaps on the downside—the excesses of the rich. To Hindus, gold represents knowledge and learning. In China, gold represents the element Earth. Gold is the traditional gift for a 50th wedding anniversary.

Using Gold in Graphic Designs

Gold is the color of a winner. First place medals are always gold. Add a small amount of metallic gold ink to a project for a special, rich touch. Bright gold catches the eye while darker subdued shades of gold lend richness and warmth. Accent a logo or other design elements with gold foil embossing. Use gold ribbons or braids on formal invitations, certificates, and diplomas. Add a golden glow to an earthy palette of orange, green and brown. Double the riches of a burgundy red or purple palette with glittery gold.

Gold Color Selections for Graphic Designers

Even when a print project calls for gold ink and metallic gold isn't in the client's budget, non-metallic gold colors can go a long way toward adding a rich feel to the project. Use the CYMK formulations for print, RGB percentages for a document that will be viewed onscreen, and Hex numbers when working in HTML and CSS to add gold color to your projects. Some gold colors include:

  • Gold: Hex #84754e | RGB 132,117,78 | CMYK 132,117,78
  • Sunglow: Hex #ffcf48 | RGB 255,207,72 | CMYK 0,19,72,0
  • Goldenrod: Hex #f3d54e | RGB 243,213,78 | CMYK 0,12,68,5 
  • Dandelion: Hex #ffd464 | RGB 253,212,100 | CMYK 0,17,61,0
  • Light Gold: Hex # c69214 | RGB 198,146,20 | CMYK 0,26,90,22

Spot Color Golds

Nothing catches the eye quite like metallic gold ink used as an accent on a printed logo, packaging or signage. If the design budget allows, go with Pantone Metallic 871 C, one of the hundreds of other metallic inks available. The non-metallic spot colors include:

  • Gold: Pantone Solid Coated 871 C
  • Sunglow: Pantone Solid Coated 129 C
  • Goldenrod: Pantone Solid Coated 128 C
  • Dandelion: Pantone Solid Coated 120 C
  • Light Gold: Pantone Solid Coated 1245 C

Language of Gold

The use of gold in familiar phrases can help a designer see how a color of choice might be perceived by others, both the positive and negative aspects.

  • The phrase "gold star" indicates praise and commendation
  • Anything that is as "good as gold" is valuable or positive
  • "Solid gold" refers to something that is superior, outstanding or best of the best
  • A "gold standard" is a measure of quality and excellence
  • A "golden child" is​ the favored person
  • A "golddigger" is someone who feigns genuine interest but is only after a person's money
  • "Fool's gold" is anything worthless.