How to Use the Color Gold in Graphic Design

Champaign Gold Colored Paper Stacking
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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.

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 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.