Color Metamerism

Hello everyone. I’m Kevin Harvey, color specialist at JAFE Decorating. Welcome to our discussion about color metamerism.

First, I want you all to imagine a scenario. In this situation, imagine that you are a consumer shopping for a lemon scented candle to match your yellow kitchen. You finally find the perfect, decorated candle that matches your home aesthetic and delights your scent palette. You buy and place the candle on the windowsill in your kitchen. Then you notice something: the color is off. The paint on the candle no longer looks lemon-colored, but now appears to be butterscotch. What happened?

What is color metamerism?

This phenomenon is called color metamerism. Color metamerism, according to X-Rite and Pantone, “occurs when two colors appear to match under one lighting condition, but not when the light source changes.”

Many people do not understand that colors change under different lighting, but can identify this situation has occurred, such as you did earlier in the lemon candle example.

Visual example of color metamerism:

Here’s a visual example of what color metamerism is. The lemon scented candle looks lemon in fluorescent, or store lighting. Now, let’s switch to the incandescent lighting, or home lighting. The color has shifted from lemon, to a butterscotch.

Observe the color metamerism from daylight, store light to home light.

Look at the swatches of color below. Each swatch represents the lemon candle’s color in different lighting. The color swatches differ significantly in shade, chroma and hue. This means that the color has a metamerism due to its shift in color when presented in different lighting.

The swatches and graph show variant colors through different lighting.

This color shift to home lighting conflicts with the candle’s lemon scent, and consumers may decide that they would not want to purchase the candle because the product no longer matches their aesthetic.

Color metamerism used in product design.

Metamerisms can be a cool effect when used intentionally as a design, but both the designer and glass decorator must understand what metamerism is and how to use the mutation as an advantage to elevate the design.

Let’s reference the home interior industry as an example. A person wants to paint their living room an orange color. They desire the orange to reflect energy for their daily routines, yet cozy when it’s time to relax. This is where metamerism comes in handy. The orange paint would reflect more yellow to resemble sunlight, or energy during daytime. As evening arrives and the room darkens, the orange color appears warmer and creates a cozy environment.

Reduce the risk of unintentional color metamerism.

Unintentional metamerisms commonly happen due to customers using numerous suppliers who use different colorants within their paints.

JAFE has the technology to reduce/eliminate the risk of unintentional metamerisms. Our spectrophotometer, light box and color specialists are reliable sources used to detect metamerisms within our customers’ decorated products.

We set clear expectations in our product development process that translates to consistent products on the production floor. The JAFE family is here to make your product design the best it can be.

Contact us if you have any more questions about metamerisms.

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