Ice covers a car near Lake Geneva near Versoix, Switzerland.
Thick ice covers a jeep near Lake Geneva in Versoix, Switzerland. (Photo: MAHATHIR MOHD YASIN/Shutterstock)

Celebrated for its indispensable and borderline revolutionary color matching system, it's safe to say that Pantone knows a thing or two about color.

So it's only natural that the world's foremost authority on color would also be in charge of deciding the world's annual "Color of the Year."

In 2015, we honored the sultry, earthy hue known as "Marsala," but for 2016's Color of the Year, Pantone mixed things up by choosing a blend of two different shades — "Rose Quartz" and "Serenity" (pictured at right). This marks the first time Pantone has picked two colors for the annual honor.

As color specialist and Pantone Executive Director Leatrice Eisman explains: "Joined together, Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace."

Heron wading along a beach in Maldive at sunrise.
Heron wades along a beach in Maldive at sunrise. (Photo: Giorgio Montersino/Flickr)

The two gentle colors are more than just a pretty combination, though. They also represent a subtle commentary on our society's changing perspectives regarding gender expression and equality.

According to Pantone's announcement about the honorable hues, "In many parts of the world, we are experiencing a gender blur as it relates to fashion, which has in turn impacted color trends throughout all other areas of design. This more unilateral approach to color is coinciding with societal movements toward gender equality and fluidity, the consumer's increased comfort with using color as a form of expression, a generation that has less concern about being typecast or judged and an open exchange of digital information that has opened our eyes to different approaches to color usage."

In celebration of these hues, we've put together a curated collection of photography inspired by the blending of Rose Quartz and Serenity.

Pinkish scarves against a blue sky.
Pinkish scarves against a blue sky. (Photo: QiuJu Song/Shutterstock)
Condors circle above a red rock canyon in Talampaya National Park, Argentina.
Condors circle above a red rock canyon in Talampaya National Park, Argentina. (Photo: Serjio74/Shutterstock)
Thistle peeks out from a thick blanket of snow at sunrise.
Dry thistle peeks out from a thick blanket of snow at sunrise. (Photo: sindlera/Shutterstock)
A child's toes resting against a background of smooth stones.
A child's toes resting against a background of smooth stones. (Photo: ElenaGaak/Shutterstock)
A long-exposure photo of a carnival ride.
A lit-up amusement park ride. (Photo: Stuart Seeger/Flickr)
A misty morning descends on a castle in St. Johann, Austria.
A misty morning descends on a castle in St. Johann, Austria. (Photo: Bernd Hinrichsen/Flickr)
Blue skies over Petra, Jordan.
Blue skies over Petra, Jordan. (Photo: Waj/Shutterstock)
The sun rises over a mountain range.
The sun rises over a mountain range. (Photo: Yuriy Kulik/Shutterstock)
Q-tip troopers
Q-tip troopers (Photo: Robert McGoldrick/Flickr)
Fireworks exploding in the sky
Fireworks exploding in the sky (Photo: H. Michael Miley/Flickr)
Sheep graze in a snowy pasture at sunrise.
Sheep graze in a snowy pasture at sunrise. (Photo: Sander van der Werf/Shutterstock)
Cherry blossoms against a bright blue sky.
Cherry blossoms against a bright blue sky. (Photo: MC_PP/Shutterstock)
A boat at sunrise
A boat at sunrise (Photo: Kenny Louie/Flickr)

Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.