Metallic Inks – Choose Wisely!

 “Offering something different and unique in our oversaturated world has become paramount to grabbing the eye and engaging interest. Metallic shades with their reflective surface immediately capture and captivate the eye, a critical factor for standing out whether on shelf or online.”  – Laurie Pressman, VP, Pantone Color Institute

Metallics certainly do stand out when it comes to product packaging and the demand for hows no sign of slowing – especially for luxury packaging. But before you dive in with your design, make sure you’re using the right metallics for the right job.

Not all Pantone Inks are created equal – especially when it comes to metallics. The new Pantone Metallics Guide and Chips Book combine two different types of metallics: 354 Packaging Metallics (10xxx series of color numbers) and 301 Commercial Graphics Metallics (870-877C and also the 8xxx series of color numbers).




Since the PANTONE 870-871C metallic base inks are included in the front pages of Pantone’s popular Formula Guide, many designers will likely focus on just these seven colors when specifying golds or silvers for packaging. However, it’s important to note that these inks were developed for commercial graphics, and not packaged goods. Product packaging requires extra durable inks that won’t get damaged during production and transit, or be rubbed or scraped off while being stocked on retail shelves or handled by consumers. PANTONE 870-871C and metallic colors from the 8xxx C graphics series are also not easily coatable. This means your printer may have to apply more than one coating, or use a premium coating just to get the ink to adhere, which can add cost to a print job. Furthermore, these colors may eventually shift with time, whereas the colors used on branded packaging need to remain consistent.

To address demand for durable, packaging-grade metallic spot inks, Pantone released the Premium Metallics (10xxx series of colors) in 2008. In March 2019, Pantone renamed the series to “Packaging Metallics” for better user clarity and added 54 new trend colors.




Pantone’s Packaging Metallics inks are formulated with advanced aluminum pigment technology, ensuring that the bright, high-luster colors are:

  • Resistant to oxidization and hue change
  • Applicable for offset, but also compatible with gravure, flexo, and screen printing
  • Non-leafing, which means that the metallic ink flakes that float to the surface are protected but still shine through, resulting in brighter, cleaner, more durable metallic color effects
  • Easily coated without sacrificing luster or adding cost, protecting the printed surface and longevity of your design
  • Globally available and suitable for most packaging substrates such as board, paper, metal (cans), etc.

Metallic inks can elevate the impact of any graphics project, adding an eye-catching shimmer and luxury feel to brand collateral, invitations and menus, and premium product packaging. So the next time your brief calls for a little bling, grab your Pantone Metallics Guide and Chips Books for over 350 of our durable Packaging Metallics colors and more than 300 metallic inks for commercial graphics projects, and you’ll be golden!