Light of Day

May 1999


Light of Day

Lamps with cooler color temperatures meet tough challenges

The more your interior lighting resembles daylight, the better it can overcome the unique challenges presented by jewelry stores.

That's one of the tricks Bruce Yarnell of Yarnell Associates, Shawnee, KS, learned in his years as a specialist in architectural lighting design. Jewelry store lighting has always been more problematic than other retail spaces, he says, because it requires three results that are equally important:

  • It must make jewelry sparkle, enhancing white diamonds and metals and enriching gem colors.
  • It must give interior finishes such as wood and marble a natural, inviting appearance.
  • It must flatter the coloring of customers when they look in the mirror.

Lamps that model themselves after daylight best achieve these goals, Yarnell says. Daylight has a cooler color temperature, around 5,500° Kelvin. (Higher color temperatures in light are said to be "cooler" because they bring out cooler colors such as blue and green. Warmer color temperatures, lower on the Kelvin scale, enhance reds and yellows.) Until recently, lighting designers had to make do with generic MR-16 lamps that were only slightly cooler (3,800°K) than standard PAR 38 downlights (lamps with 4.75-in. diameters, which are 3,000°K).

During a recent project for Earth Resources, a jewelry store in Appleton, WI, Yarnell tested a product called SoLux, a 50-watt MR-16 lamp manufactured by Wiko Ltd., Orland Park, IL A lamp so groundbreaking it captured the attention of National Public Radio, SoLux is available in color temperatures of 3,500°K, 4,100°K and 4,700°K. "It has to be considered by designers, art curators and retailers who are serious about light and how objects are rendered," Yarnell says. Besides the cooler color temperatures, the lamp has beam uniformity (an even light intensity), a color rendering index of 98 (how the light source makes color appear to the eye, measured on a scale of 0 to 100) and the choice of four beam spreads that Yarnell says make it ideal for jewelry stores.

In the Earth Resources project, the designer alternated two color temperatures (3,500°K and 4,100°K lamps) and spaced them so the light patterns blend evenly. "Store finishes and people look good," Yarnell says. "Diamonds are whiter, colored gemstones exhibit more color and gold is rich and full of detail." Store owners later wanted even whiter-looking diamonds, so they installed SoLux lamps of 4,700°K in their diamond viewing room to replicate how diamonds look in daylight.

The lamps even passed one of the hardest tests of good jewelry store lighting, Yarnell says – they brought out the red in the opals and made natural sapphires appear blue instead of black.

– by Stacey King

Earth Resources in Appleton, WI, sheds light on its subjects using SoLux lamps by Wiko Ltd. The lamps are distributed by USA Light & Electric, Patton, CA, at (800) 854-8794, fax (800) 851-7651,; Econo-Lite, Jersey City, NJ, at (800) 345-9652; and Tailored Lighting, Rochester, NY, at (800) 254-4487. For other distributors, contact Wiko in Orland Park, IL, by fax at (708) 349-1559 or







Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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