Meaning of Colors Used in Coats of Arms

by Laura Britton

The colors used in a coat of arms have as much meaning as the symbols, words and other heraldic elements. These colors have a long-standing history and symbolic significance. This means that a person viewing your family’s coat of arms can glean a great deal of information about your family’s history simply by interpreting the colors and other elements.

Gold and Yellow

Golds and yellows are interchangeable colors on heraldic devices

Gold and yellow are interchangeable colors on heraldic devices, as gold thread and paint were not commonly available. Therefore, yellow took the place of gold and represented it. Gold and yellow symbolize abundance and generosity. This relates to both material wealth and intellectual generosity.

Silver and White

Silver and white are symbolic of peace and sincerity.

Silver and white are also interchangeable, for the same reasons as gold and yellow. Silver and white are symbolic of peace and sincerity. The white flag of truce is a well-known example of this concept.

Red

Red is the color of blood and battle

Red is the color of blood and battle. In heraldry, red denotes a special connection with battle, either as a victor or as a martyr.

Orange

Orange is a color that marks a family's ambition

Orange is a color that marks a family’s ambition. However, this ambition is viewed by the Crown as being appropriate and worthy of praise.

Blue

Blue is the color of loyalty and truthfulness

Blue is the color of loyalty and truthfulness. The phrase “true blue” still holds testament to blue’s role in heraldry as a symbol of fidelity.

Purple

The color purple is the sign of royalty

Since the days of the Roman Empire, purple has been a color of royalty. Only persons of certain rank were allowed to wear purple or bear it in their crests.

About the Author

Laura Britton is a graduate of Indiana University and a former English teacher. She is the managing editor of "The Balefire" magazine, and her work has appeared in several magazines and journals. Britton has been writing professionally for 10 years.

Photo Credits

  • Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Margaret Anne Clarke