Do the colors of the light sabers really mean anything? I’ve heard varying answers on this for years but no one seems to be able to get a decisive answer for me. It’s all “this is what I read here” or “this is what someone told me” but no solid authoritative answer to my question. — Michelle
The lightsaber is a symbolic weapon, meant to demonstrate the Jedi’s dedication to defensive, not aggressive combat and their philosophical concern for finely tuned mind and body skills. Jedi are only warriors as a last resort, and their lightsabers are demonstrative of this.
As far as construction is concerned, lightsabers do follow a common design, and therefore all appear similar at first glance. However, close inspection reveals the originality of various elements of the design, including blade power, length modulation, and other features. Lightsabers are all hand-built and must be constructed with the Force. Often, learners modeled their own sabers after their masters’, as a sign of respect. If the slightest calibration is wrong, the weapon will detonate upon activation.
The pure energy blade has no mass, but its electromagnetically generated arc wave creates a strong gyroscopic effect, making the lightsaber challenging to handle. It operates on the complex principle of tightly controlled arc-energy, requiring focusing elements made from crystals. These crystals, either synthetic or natural, determine the length of the blade; a saber with a single crystal has a single length, but multiple crystals can create variable blade lengths.
The crystals are arguably the most important part of the lightsaber’s construction, and it is from these crystals that the colors are produced. Synthetic crystals, which cause the blade to turn crimson, are traditionally associated with the Sith and the Dark Side. Natural crystals, typically from the Adega system, bear green or blue colored blades; blue is traditional. The synthetic crystals are stronger, though natural crystals produce a more maneuverable blade.
As far as significance of colors goes, there isn’t really any. Synthetic crystals are associated with Sith but not exclusive to them. (For example, Luke Skywalker makes a red-bladed saber for Leia in the Correllian trilogy.) Personally I believe that Jedi prefer the natural crystals because they are natural and therefore have a stronger connection with the Force. Sith naturally prefer what is more powerful. The only reason Jedi might prefer a synthetic crystal is that Adegan crystals are increasingly rare, and in any situation where a lightsaber is needed and natural crystals are not readily available, synthetic is the obvious and only alternative. As for the choice between green and blue, it is simply a matter of preference.
You may be aware that the expanded universe supplies a rainbow of colors for lightsaber blades. You also might know that the role-playing games also supplied a wide array of colors and powers associated with the crystals, and you might have noticed that Mace Windu has a purple lightsaber in Episodes II and III. This is some behind the scenes stuff that has an effect on the in-universe realities. The original lightsabers in the film were just white; later red and blue were added just to differentiate the good guys from the bad guys. (Luke’s saber was made green in ROTJ in order to stand out better against the blue sky in the Tatooine fight sequence.) When the toys first came out, therefore, they came out with lightsabers in all kinds of colors, including a yellow saber for Luke. This probably inspired the writers to similarly populate their writings with dozens of lightsaber colors (particularly attractive in color comics). It makes for a big question about what is “canon” or “right” in this instance, and the ultimate source of canon is of course Lucas himself.
George Lucas stated in an interview roughly about the time Episode II came out that lightsabers only come in three colors, a fact that the movies bear out. This is where Mace Windu’s saber comes in, the only Lucas-approved exception to the rule. Samuel L. Jackson is obsessed with purple, frequently requests that his characters have some association with purple, and also asked that he have a purple saber in the film in order to “stand out” more among the other Jedi (because I’m sure he would’ve been invisible without it). This, along with the writers supplying yellow, white, and purple sabers willy-nilly, creates an interesting challenge for someone like myself to justify.
Therefore, there are a couple of exceptions to the “green-blue-red” rule. Mace Windu’s saber is purple due to additional circuitry added to alter the color of the blade, likely to provide greater strength and maneuverability in his preferred method of fighting, Form VII. Yellow and white are also justifiable saber colors; Corran Horn describes how he uses a diamond to create a white saber based on his grandfather’s design. Volcanic lava crystals, particularly when paired with synthetic crystals, can also be used to create a yellow or orange blade as Callista or Jon Rey have.
So that’s about the best I can do. More information can be read in the Star Wars databank (here). My sources were The Complete Visual Dictionary and various readings and interviews I read or saw between 1999 and 2002, which don’t exist online any longer. I hope that answers your question! MTFBWY.