The differences between cream color & ivory color

Written by alyssa brode
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The differences between cream color & ivory color
Cream-coloured formal wear is popular as a similar but more subtle alternative to white. (Charley Gallay/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

The colours ivory and cream are easily confused with one another. As both are variants of white that suit more diverse complexions, they have become rather popular in recent years as alternatives to brilliant white in wedding fashion. However, there are several key distinctions to be aware of in order to differentiate these colours.

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Yellow Content

In the spectrum of white variants, cream is at the opposite end from brilliant white or stark white due to its yellow content. It is, therefore, higher in its yellow saturation than the colour ivory. This is not to say that ivory may not have subtle hints of yellow present; in fact, yellow undertones sometimes occur in products coloured "ivory" to degrees notably less than that of cream.

Shading

Both cream and ivory contain a small degree of black shading, creating their off-white looks. Ivory tends to be less shaded and lighter than the colour cream, though, resulting in its occasional description as a "quiet" white. Due to its minimal amount of shading and only slight, if any, hint of yellow, ivory is a closer derivative of white than its darker and more yellow counterpart, cream. Ivory may also be referred to as "eggshell" or "candlelight."

Resemblance to Cream

The simplest way to distinguish these colours is to compare them to the substances for which they were named. In the case of the cream colour, its name was taken from its resemblance to the fatty, yellowish portion that rises to the surface in unhomogenized milk. Objects with a cream colour, therefore, resemble cream or even vanilla ice cream with their yellowish-white colour.

Resemblance to Ivory

Ivory, as a colour, takes its name from a naturally occurring substance forming mammalian teeth or tusks, such as those of elephants. This substance is hard and smooth, coloured mostly white with a slight yellow hue. The colour ivory can most easily be differentiated from the colour cream by its resemblance to the colour of bleached bone, a barely shaded white with a minor yellow tint.

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