I first heard of Pantone while at Sephora last year. I saw a collection of orange makeup products that were labeled Sephora + Pantone Universe. The Pantone color of 2012 was Tangerine Tango (Reddish Orange).
I decided to do a little researching to educate myself on matters Pantone. According to Wikipedia Pantone is a company that created a standardized color matching system (also by the name of Pantone) which is used in a variety of industries including beauty. Pantone.com explains it as the standard language for color communication from designer to manufacturer to retailer to customer. This is important as to the consistency of a color across industries. Basically mint green is the same shade of mint green (an exact match).
Pantone Universe is a collection for the home and workplace. One such collection is the Sephora + Pantone Universe. They have teamed up again this year for the Emerald collection. It is a limited edition collection so if you love Emerald you better follow the yellow brick road to the Emerald City (Wizard of Oz reference I couldn't help it).
Hopefully this Pantone lesson was helpful and if you are ever asked what it means you will look like a smarty pants!