Packaging Innovation
September 26, 2016

Did you know? These are the rarest colours in the world

Don’t you just love comparing paint swatches, ‘having a spin’ at the Pantone colour wheel, flipping through hundreds of books and magazines, … and then suddenly finding that perfect hue? If so, then you owe a big thank you to Edward Forbes. As the director of Harvard University’s Fogg Art Museum from 1909 to 1944, Forbes traveled the world to collect more than 2,500 pigments from ‘Mummy Brown’ – yes, he amassed actual mummy dust – to so-called ‘Dragon’s Blood’. Talk about colour management, right? The Forbes collection includes seven of the rarest colours in the world

1. Lapis Lazuli

Lapus Lazuli is a blue mineral so rare that in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance it was actually more valuable than gold. Today it is still a much sought-after stone prized for its intense blue hue. The most beautiful Lapis Lazuli stones are sourced in Afghanistan.

2. Quercitron

Quercitron is a yellow pigment that comes from bark of the Quercus velutina (black oak), a tree that grows in the Eastern and Midwestern parts of North America.

3. Cochineal

Cochineal is a red pigment obtained from squashed beetles that’s mainly used in – brace yourself – food and cosmetics.

4. Dragon’s Blood

As the name suggests, Dragon’s Blood is made of actual dragon’s blood … No, we’re just kidding, of course! Dragon’s Blood is a bright red pigment that is extracted from the rattan palm.

5. Mummy Brown

In the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, people would travel to Egypt to harvest mummies and turn the dust and wrappings they scraped off the bodies into a brown pigment they appropriately – or better said, inappropriately? – called Mummy Brown.

6. Brazilwood

Caesalpinia echinata or Brazilwood is a tree native to Brazil – of course – and prized for the deep brownish red colour of its trunk. Brazilwood is typically used to dye leather, textile, musical instruments and high-quality furniture.

7. Cadmium Yellow

First introduced in the mid-19th century, cadmium yellow pigment was used by many impressionists who fell in love with its zesty appearance. Unfortunately, cadmium is an extremely toxic metal that is known to cause cancer, kidney failure and softening of the bones, among other life-threatening health conditions. Cadmium was commonly used in children’s toys up until the 1970s and these days is predominantly used in batteries.     Inspired by Fastcodesign