The idea of a highlight in an interior design is to attract attention and perhaps at the same time distract the eye from a less deserving area. If colour is to be effective as a highlight, it has to be seen against neutral or tonally similar background. It will obviously not work in a room that is already a riot of colour. A highlight does not have to be a strongly saturated colour – a flash of pale apricot, for instance, seen against dark grey, would be as effective as a violet against baby pink.
The colours can be scientifically described, however, this description can’t fully communicate the sensation or emotional effect of a colour. So often we name the colour based on our familiar and shared knowledge of the world – after animals (elephant grey or canary yellow); flowers and vegetables (lilac, mushroom, tomato red), sweets and spices (saffron yellow, toffee); minerals and jewels (pearl, coral, jade) and so on.