Cobalt blue is a blue pigment made by sintering cobalt(II) oxide with aluminum(III) oxide (alumina) at 1200 °C. Chemically, cobalt blue pigment is cobalt(II) oxide-aluminium oxide, or cobalt(II) aluminate, CoAl2O4. Cobalt blue is lighter and less intense than the (iron-cyanide based) pigment Prussian blue. It is extremely stable and historically has been used as a coloring agent in ceramics (especially Chinese porcelain), jewelry, and paint. Transparent glasses are tinted with the silica-based cobalt pigment smalt.

Cobalt blue
Cobalt Blue.JPG
A sample of a commercial cobalt blue pigment
About these coordinates     Color coordinates
Hex triplet#0047AB
sRGBB (r, g, b)(0, 71, 171)
HSV (h, s, v)(215°, 100%, 67%)
CIELChuv (L, C, h)(33, 82, 259°)
ISCC–NBS descriptorVivid blue
B: Normalized to [0–255] (byte)
Cobalt blue
3D model (JSmol)
ECHA InfoCard 100.100.107 Edit this at Wikidata
EC Number
  • 310-193-6
  • InChI=1S/2Al.Co.4O/q;;+2;;;2*-1
  • [O-][Al]=O.[O-][Al]=O.[Co+2]
Molar mass 176.892 g·mol−1
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).

Historical uses and productionEdit

Cobalt blue in impure forms had long been used in Chinese porcelain.[1] The first recorded use of cobalt blue as a color name in English was in 1777.[2] It was independently discovered as a pure alumina-based pigment by Louis Jacques Thénard in 1802.[3] Commercial production began in France in 1807. The leading world manufacturer of cobalt blue in the nineteenth century was Benjamin Wegner's Norwegian company Blaafarveværket ("blue colour works" in Dano-Norwegian). Germany also was famous for production of it, especially the blue colour works (Blaufarbenwerke) in the Ore Mountains of Saxony.

In human cultureEdit


  • Cobalt blue was the primary blue pigment used for centuries in Chinese blue and white porcelain, beginning in the late eighth or early ninth century.[4]
  • Watercolorist John Varley suggested cobalt blue as a good substitution for ultramarine for painting skies, writing in his "List of Colours" from 1818: "Used as a substitute for ultramarine in its brightness of colour, and superior when used in skies and other objects, which require even tints; used occasionally in retrieving the brightness of those tints when too heavy, and for tints in drapery, etc. Capable, by its superior brilliancy and contrast, to subdue the brightness of other blues."[5]
  • Cobalt blue has been used in paintings since its discovery by Thénard, by painters such as J. M. W. Turner, Impressionists such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet, and Post-Impressionists such as Vincent van Gogh.[6] It is stable and lightfast and also compatible with all other pigments.
  • Maxfield Parrish, partially famous for the intensity of his skyscapes, frequently used cobalt blue, and as a result cobalt blue sometimes is called Parrish blue.
  • Cobalt blue is a commonly used color for interior decorating.[7]


  • Several car manufacturers including Jeep and Bugatti have cobalt blue as paint options.


  • Because of its chemical stability in the presence of alkali, cobalt blue is used as a pigment in blue concrete.



Video games


Cobalt blue is toxic when ingested or inhaled. Its use requires appropriate precautions to avoid internal contamination and to prevent cobalt poisoning.

Natural occurrenceEdit

A single record of the compound concerns inclusions in sapphires from a single site.[11]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Kerr, Rose; Wood, Nigel (2004), Science and Civilisation in China Volume 5. Part 12, Ceramic Technology, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 658–692, ISBN 0-521-83833-9.
  2. ^ Maerz and Paul. A Dictionary of Color. New York (1930). McGraw-Hill. p. 91; Color Sample of Cobalt Blue: Page 131 Plate 34 Color Sample L7
  3. ^ Gehlen, A.F. (1803). "Ueber die Bereitung einer blauen Farbe aus Kobalt, die eben so schön ist wie Ultramarin. Vom Bürger Thenard". Neues Allgemeines Journal der Chemie, Band 2. H. Frölich. Archived from the original on 2018-02-10. German translation from Thénard, L.J. (1803), "Considérations générales sur les couleurs, suivies d'un procédé pour préparer une couleur bleue aussi belle que l'outremer" (PDF), Journal des Mines, 86: 128–136, archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-03-29.
  4. ^ "Chinese pottery: The Yuan dynasty (1206–1368)". Archived 2017-12-29 at the Wayback Machine Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Accessed 7 June 2018.
  5. ^ ""J Varley's List of Colours". The British Museum. Archived from the original on 2016-09-20. Retrieved 2016-07-22.
  6. ^ "Cobalt blue". ColourLex. Archived from the original on 2015-04-15. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  7. ^ Cobalt Blue Is the Vibrant Shade You Need for 2023,[1]
  8. ^ "Real Salt Lake unveil new primary kit for 2018". February 8, 2018. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  9. ^ "History". Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  10. ^ Sheffield, Brandon. "Out of the Blue: Naoto Ohshima Speaks". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on 16 July 2015. Retrieved 12 August 2013. Well, he's blue because that's Sega's more-or-less official company color
  11. ^ "UM1994-06-O:AlCo".

Further readingEdit

  • Roy, A. "Cobalt blue", in Artists' Pigments, Berrie, B. H., Ed., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 2007
  • Wood, J.R. and Hsu Yi-Ting, 2019, An Archaeometallurgical Explanation for the Disappearance of Egyptian and Near Eastern Cobalt-Blue Glass at the end of the Late Bronze Age, Internet Archaeology 52, Internet Archaeology

External linksEdit