Love for Three Oranges is a Russian opera written by Sergei Prokofiev that I saw at City Opera during a brief hiatus from the Metropolitan. It's a wonderful opera that isn't performed nearly enough. It came into my mind this morning because I have been listening to a lot of opera this weekend - and because I have finally come to terms that orange is my favorite color. My packaging is orange, all the ski clothes I buy are orange, and gem stones like fire opal, I constantly find myself using in new pieces. Orange is dramatic to a fault, but what makes the color especially wonderful is how identifiable it can be in conjunction with a second color. For instance, Dorothy Draper, the woman who started the company my father has owned for fifty years, combined orange with turquoise blue for a man named Howard Johnson - and now it is impossible to combine those two colors without thinking of that famous orange roof with blue walls. This morning, in preparations for Tucson, I have been looking for different silhouettes for large stones that I will be using in bracelets for this coming season. The idea of using fire opal and aquamarine is especially appealing to me. Blue and orange can work in jewelry especially well. The key to its success is the tone of the color. Too dark a blue and you've got too much of a collegiate look. The combination of light blue and orange will definitely reference the 50's, but its' a color combination that is brilliant and very intriguing. The 50's were a very color conscious time and jewelry should reference a color consciousness more than any other medium, save painting.
I have some of my most wonderful recollections of orange in many of the places I have visited and many of the events that I have enjoyed in my life. I relate colors and happy places in nearly everything I've done in my life. For example, upon a return from a trip to Greece I could never remember the names of the restaurants I went to or the names of different towns I visited, but what I remember most vividly were the colors of those places. The Aegean blue water, the light in the caves I swam in, those were the most important things I took from that trip. Everything referenced blue. I don't think I'm alone in having that feeling in the Aegean. However, I probably have more great remembrances referencing orange than all the other colors combined. The town of Roussillion and the Valley d'Ochre is shocking orange. The train ride into Naples and the bay of Naples and down to Portofino has the most beautiful shades of orange and pumpkin associated with the landscape. The greatest sunset I have seen in my life was on the Seven-Mile-Bridge in the Florida keys. The cape Jan Six wore in the painting by Rembrandt featured at the Rijk's museum is an extraordinary orange. The evening on the bayou glows with the warmth of orange. All these remembrances have made orange my favorite color.
Fortunately, the gem-stone world provides numbers of different stones in multiple tones of orange. There are fire opals, amazing citrines, orange sapphires, spessartite garnet (sometimes called mandarin garnet), deep orange spinel, carnelian agates, and even orange diamonds. I can't think of another color so well represented as orange. Perhaps green would be the only other one. Orange is a scary color for most people, women tend to need a big personality to wear it, but it can be subtle and feminine as any color. I look forward to seeing what new mines have produced this year in Tucson and experimenting with the many beautiful combinations the world has to offer. The word marmalade was born of the expression "mere est malade" when the queen of France was ill and was prescribed the vitamin C-based orange paste. I also learned the other day that purple was the imperial color because it was the hardest dye to produce centuries ago. The natural purple agent they dyed the cloth with came from snails. I like that one. I've convinced myself that a piece of jewelry phrased properly that combines colors that we have seen in places we have loved in our lives can bring us back to that place - better than anything. There is a transparency in gem stones that allow us to relive beautiful places and our fondest memories with extraodinary intimacy. It's the old Proustian idea - the best part of our memory lives outside of our internal recall. I think I use orange so much because in the process of working with it, I relive some of the best moment of my life.