All About Fiestaware Colors

Vintage Fiestaware Teacup and Saucers
Vintage Fiestaware Teacup and Saucers from TheSellersCabinet on Etsy – $15-$26 each

Fiestaware is a dishware company owned by the Homer Laughlin China Company, based in West Virginia. Launched in 1936, the dishes hit the stores soon after the Great Depression ended, forcing the company to advertise something both cheerful and cheap. Almost 90 years later, these dishes are still one of the best-selling brands in the United States and are known for their durability and their bright colors.

Fiestaware’s original five colors included red, yellow, cobalt blue, green, and ivory. Turquoise was added in 1937, and these six colors were the only ones produced until 1950. Fiestaware has generally followed national color trends, leading them to produce over 50 different colors over the years.

Although several original FIESTA colors have been discontinued, some dishes can still be found and sold for as much as $1600 for a cake plate. In the remainder of the article, the fascination with these simple dishes will be looked at, the brilliant colors will be discussed, and the story of how these dishes grew into a billion-dollar industry will be explained.

original 5 colors can be seen in this Vintage Fiestaware Multicolor Relish Tray
The original 5 colors before turquoise was added can be seen in this Vintage Fiestaware Multicolor Relish Tray from ThisandthatforDaniel on Etsy

Colors over the Years

Since the company was started in 1936, there have been 54 FIESTA colors released and retired. Starting in 1986, the company has released one new color every year and switched out the colors so that they are constantly releasing and retiring colors. With the fashion color scheme changing from brighter colors to pastels in the 1950s, it made sense for the company to release four new Fiestaware colors and retire three old ones. Rose, grey, chartreuse, and forest green were introduced and yellow, ivory, and cobalt blue were retired. In 1959, all four of these new colors were discontinued and medium green was added.

1950s Vintage Fiesta Ware Plates - Forest Green, Rose, and Gray Fiestaware Plates
1950s Vintage Fiesta Ware Plates – Forest Green, Rose, and Gray Fiestaware Plates from PifesPicks on Etsy

In 1969, the new FIESTA colors that were released included antique gold and turf green, with no colors retired.

Turf Green Fiestaware Bowls – $18 each – from JessiesVintageDishes on Etsy
Fiestaware Antique Gold Gravy Sauce Boat Underplate – from RetailTherapist on Etsy – $81

In 1986, with the new relaunch of the Fiestaware line, five new colors were released: apricot, black, cobalt, rose, and white. Since then, new colors have been released every year.

Rose, Cobalt, and Chartreuse Fiestaware Teapots with Lids – Vintage Fiesta from MyFiestaFavorites on Etsy – $54.99+

It is worth noting that between the years 1936-1972, the uranium coating on the dishes was one of the reasons that the colors were so vibrant. In fact, the original red color is often referred to as “radioactive red” and is a highly desirable collector piece since it was discontinued in 1943 after the US government confiscated the company’s uranium supply to use for the atomic bomb. [Source]

Fiestaware Radioactive Red Plates Cups and Saucers from SueFinds on Etsy
Fiestaware Radioactive Red Plates Cups and Saucers from SueFinds on Etsy

Design Goals

The designer for the famed Fiestaware collection was Frederic Rhead, a popular professor that was known throughout the art world for his good taste. When The Homer Laughlin China Company hired him as their new art director, they had some goals in mind with creating the design for the Fiestaware line. They wanted the consumer’s eye to be drawn to the shape and color of the dish. This meant that they didn’t want any designs or decorations on the dish, simply the color.

The classic rings that you see on each dish, but especially the vintage pieces, are part of the HLCC’s attempt to have each dish consist of many curves and brilliant colors. After the dishes were designed, it was time to pick the colors. Homer actually had hundreds of colors in mind for this first release, but after test marketing, the original five colors were chosen.

The popularity of these simple designs seems to have resonated with the public since the Fiestaware collection is just as popular today, if not more so than it was when it was first launched.

Fiesta Lilac Limited Run Rare Color Fiestaware Disc Pitcher and Tumblers from TheSellersCabinet on Etsy - $199
Fiesta Lilac Limited Run Rare Color Fiestaware Disc Pitcher and Tumblers from TheSellersCabinet on Etsy – $199

Retired Colors

As of January 2022, there are 36 retired colors. The current retired collectible colors include:

ColorYears Manufactured
Claret2016 – 2017
Sage2015 – 2018
Flamingo2012 – 2013
Marigold2008 – 2012
Paprika2010 – 2016
Chocolate2008 – 2011
Evergreen2007 – 2010
Heather2006 – 2008
Peacock2005 – 2014
Tangerine2003 – 2017
Shamrock2002 – 2021
Plum2001 – 2015
Cinnabar2000 – 2010
Juniper2000 – 2001
Pearl Gray1999 – 2001
Chartreuse (2 Year Run)1997 – 1999
Sapphire (Limited Run)1996 – 1997
Persimmon1995 – 2008
Lilac (2 Year Run)1993 – 1995
Sea Mist Green1991 – 2005
Periwinkle Blue1989 – 2006
Apricot1986 – 1998
Black1986 – 2014
Turf Green1969 – 1972
Antique Gold1969 – 1972
Medium Green1959 – 1969
Gray1951 – 1959
Chartreuse1951 – 1959
Rose1951 – 1959
1987 – 2005
Forest Green1951 – 1959
Turquoise1937 – 1969
Old Ivory1936 – 1951
Yellow1936 – 1951 
1987 – 2002
Light Green1936 – 1951
Cobalt Blue1936 – 1951 
1987 – 2021
Red1936 – 1943 
1959 – 1972
Official Chart from Fiesta

Consumer Favorites

The most highly sought-after colors include medium green, red, and vintage turquoise. Medium green is easily the rarest color, so it doesn’t matter what dish you can find in this color as long as it’s the original medium green. Any original color (yellow, red, cobalt, green, and ivory) is also desirable since those colors are no longer produced and haven’t been since 1951.

FIESTA Medium Green Vintage Teapot Rare Fiestaware
FIESTA Medium Green Vintage Teapot – Rare Fiestaware – $170 from PastAccoutrements on Etsy

Check out our Fiestaware valuation guide for more examples of what various Fiesta colors are worth.

Fiestaware and Family Time

Since Fiestaware has been around for such a long time, it is only natural that the vibrant colors would create memories that last a lifetime. Several people have shared happy memories as a child choosing their favorite colored cup out of their mother’s or grandmother’s vast collection, or how they distinctly remember the way their mashed potatoes looked against the brightly colored plates. One even described walking into her grandmother’s dining room as a “festival of colors” because of all the Fiestaware on the table.

One experience shared was from an older woman who calls her Fiestaware set her “happy plates” because of how happy the warm colors make her feel, while another mentions how excited her children are for mealtimes because of the fun dish colors. It seems that not only are the pieces colorfully classic, but they are also extremely memorable. [Source]

Collection of Original Fiestaware by Homer Laughlin - Vintage Fiesta
Collection of Original Fiestaware by Homer Laughlin – Vintage Fiesta from AlanDesignStudio on Etsy – $950


Fiestaware is located in West Virginia, USA. Since the company is not international, they have struggled to compete with labor costs, especially since most dishware is made in China, Mexico, and India.

In the early 1960s, Homer Laughlin China Company struggled with international competition and cheaper prices, and although their dishes were of higher quality, the company couldn’t keep up and had to close its doors in 1972. However, in the late 80s, the department store Bloomingdales recognized the excitement that surrounded vintage Fiestaware and wanted to help the company reopen its doors.

Bloomingdales was able to talk the Homer Laughlin China Company into restarting their production and in 1986, they launched a new line of Fiestaware, new colors and all. Today, Fiestaware is the best-selling dishware in American history. It seems that there’s just something about the high-quality dishes and the beautiful colors that are appealing to people from the 1940s all the way to the 2000s.

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