We investigate the history of the four vivid colours of the Sterling Collection. 

If you have a penchant for a contemporary flash of colour, then perhaps our flamboyant Sterling Collection – featuring striking orange, laid-back turquoise, opulent purple and brave red linings – might well be for you. But, what do you know of the history of our four signature colours? Crib up with our quick guide to these magnificent hues.

Purple has always been known as a regal colour, but it also has roots in mythology and legend. It is said that Hercules’ dog picked up a sea snail (Murex Snail) from the beach and coloured his mouth purple. The snails were then used as a source of much sought after Phoenician purple dye.

Due to the dye’s rarity (up until synthetic dyes were discovered in the 19th century), kings and emperors clamoured to wear purple cloth. Ancient Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Persian societies revered this colour. In fact, the colour was such a status marker, that it was even illegal in some cultures for people, other than royalty, to wear it at all. Henry VIII tried one of his Earls for High Treason after evidence emerged that he was seen wearing purple, reserved only for the king.

Keen to bring regal purple into your look? We recommend the unusual Sterling Coat Wallet with 20 C/C – perfect for the modern man about town.

Cool turquoise is often associated with water, tranquility and laid back beaches. Ahhh, we can just feel the sun on our faces now. Tropical vibes aside, the colour turquoise is, of course, named after its eponymous gemstone. The word itself is French for ‘Turkish Stone’, even though it actually originated in Persia.

Turquoise was widely appreciated before it even reached the West. Its powerful hue was popular with Egyptian pharaohs and Navajo Indian tribesmen alike – panels of turquoise line the death mask of Tutankhamun, for example. Many believed the gemstone brought good luck and protected from evil.

Bring luck and laid back holiday vibes to the office, with our Sterling Notebook Cover.

What came first, the colour or the fruit? The rather uninspiring term, ‘yellow-red’ described the colour we now call orange up until the late 15th century. Orange trees arrived in Europe at a similar time, via Portuguese merchants, and the term ‘orange’ (derived from both French and Anglo Saxon) was indeed first used to describe the bright citrus fruits. It was not until the 16th century that it was used to describe the colour.

Powerful orange pigment has a rich artistic history. It was a favourite of the Pre-Raphaelite Movement in the 19th century; it featured in Monet’s Sunrise, added contrast to Renoir’s work; brightness to Gauguin’s exotic scenes, and was a favourite of Van Gogh, who used the shade to depict the bright light of Provence.

Make sure to stand out in the countryside, with our Sterling 8oz Hunter Flask in vivid orange.

Red, the colour of love, hate, passion and blood (quite a range) is the strongest primary colour, and the oldest known to man. Some of the earliest known cave paintings (approximately 15,000BC) are marked out in a rusty red, and in Roman Mythology the colour was associated with courage and the god of war, Mars. Roman soldiers, generals and gladiators also wore red  to denote their power.

Red has come in and out of fashion – becoming very popular in the 16th century, for example, when Cochineal Beetles were imported from the New World by Spanish merchants. It has held a constant fascination for some cultures, for example it is said to bring luck in China, and has been the colour worn by Catholic Cardinals for centuries.


The most important thing to remember about red, however, is its age. According to historian Michel Pastoureau, author of Red: The History of a Color: "Red is the archetypal color, the first color humans mastered, fabricated, reproduced, and broke down into different shades, first in painting, later in dyeing. This has given it primacy over all other colors through the millennia."

Instil a little history into your wardrobe with a red Sterling Billfold Wallet with 3 C/C and Purse.