Romans used powdered coral to cure stomach ache so I deemed it an appropriate stone to ward off the effects of the tightening economy. Please enjoy our Salmon Coral Earrings fabulous photography as you discover why a pair of salmon coral earrings can give lasting protection to you!.
With its distinct fascination, coral is a conglomeration of tiny marine invertebrates which settled in enormous quantities in warm sea depths long ago.. These polyps, surrounded by a fleshy skin, excrete a carbonic substance which attaches itself to rocks and other objects, growing like trees and branches.
These branches can at times attain a length of sixteen inches although the actual branches seldom exceed one and a half inches in length.
In its natural state, coral is matt and porous, filled with holes, cracks, blotches and striations, lesser quality coral being filled with colored wax to improve its appearance.
Traditionally, fragile coral trees were uprooted from ocean depths with trawl nets but since high quality coral become harder to find and a great deal more valuable, divers are now deployed in the less destructive process of coral branch harvesting, in so doing, leaving the roots intact. Once harvested, coral branches are cleaned, sorted and processed using saws, knives, files or drills.
Amongst the existing varieties of coral, the precious ‘coralium nobile’ is of special interest to jewelers and collectors. Its color ranges from pinkish white to salmon and blood-red, and it is found in tropical and subtropical oceans along the coasts of Algeria, Morocco and Corsica, at a depth of approximately fifty feet. The pink variety of coral termed appropriately ‘peau d’ange’ or ‘angel-skin, is extremely rare, consequently highly sought after. Other well known colors of coral are the rich-red Japanese Moro coral, the pale pink ‘Boke’ and the red ‘Sardegna’ coral.
Other varieties of coral have been found in depths of up to three thousand meters in the seas around Japan, Taiwan and the Malayan Archipelago, in the Red Sea, the Biscayne Gulf and around the Canary Islands. Just as pearls are a product of water, so is coral, both consisting of over 90% carbonic lime. It is an interesting phenomenon to note that nature uses the same dull material to create fiery red coral as well as beautiful white pearls!
Root or foam coral is lighter and more reasonably priced than precious coral. Root coral is actually a distinctly different coral species of their own, a special kind of coral growth sometimes confused with foam coral. Foam coral derives from parts of Japanese Momo coral which remains attached to the sand or mud and forms the transition from the foot of the coral to the main artery. It is heavier than root coral and somewhat more expensive. Both kinds find their way into the trade in large quantities from China and Japan. Due to their size and relatively low weight, they are popular wherever color and volume are in demand at low prices.
The blue and ‘sponge’ coral is less compact in structure than their pink and red relatives, their texture being rough and porous and difficult to polish. The natural colors range from pinkish-red with brownish patches to gray-blue, frequently dyed to enhance their color and/or resin impregnated to enhance their durability.
Black and golden coral belongs to the group of coral with tough and keratin-like proteins that adopt a durable finish with a high polish, maintaining remarkable beauty. Golden colored coral is highly prized and can be naturally colored.
Bamboo or Sea Bamboo Coral has a distinct structure inherent in its name. The skeletons consist of branch-like calcium carbonate material, interspersed with protein ‘joints’. The natural color is creamy white with brownish or black joints. The harder sections are dried and used for beads or cabochons while larger pieces are cared into ornamental objects.
In vogue throughout the Victorian era, coral from the Bay of Naples in Italy was carved into cameos or incorporated into necklaces and brooches to be sold throughout Europe.
The origin of the word coral remain the subject of controversy amongst etymologists. Whereas some consider ‘koraillon’ to be the Greek derivation referring to the calcareous skeleton of the coral animal, or ‘kura-halos’ denoting ‘mermaid’ due to the fact that the fine coral branches sometimes resemble small figures, while others believe the name derives from the Hebrew word ‘goral’.
Goral stems and branches were used to cast an oracle both in Palestine and around the Mediterranean, where this organic gem has held a special significance since ancient times. In the ancient Chinese civilization, coral was supposed to represent a tree called ‘Tieb shu’ which grew on the ocean floor only once a century, and symbolized longevity. The Romans powdered coral and ingested it to soothe aching stomachs. The same powder was burned and used in ointments, to remedy ulcers and sore eyes. The Roman scholar Pliny wrote at length on the powers that people of his time ascribed to coral, such as protecting the wearer from lightening, tornados and tempests. Women in Rome wore coral necklaces as charms against sterility.
The ancient Greeks believed coral to have the power to baffle witchcraft and to protect against poisons and storms and practiced grinding coral into a powder, mixing it with seed-corn and spreading it about their fields to guard against locusts, thunderstorms, and blight.
In India, coral was coveted as having numerous sacred properties and as in China and Japan, it was very popular for use in rosaries, believing to prevent cholera and epidemics.
Coral, they further believed, would; change color to indicate the presence of poison or impending sickness, quicken the senses, strengthen mental faculties and preserve eyesight by preventing gradual loss of energy to the optic nerve. The Navajo Indians of the nineteenth century esteemed coral as one of the eighteen sacred objects and used it for both jewelry and ornamentation. Even into late nineteenth century, a diluted powder of coral was prescribed by physicians to cure whooping cough. As M. Teste wrote, coral was used ‘for a chronic convulsive cough, it is like water thrown upon fire’.
In vogue throughout the Victorian era, coral from the Bay of Naples was carved in Italy and used for cameos or, in naturalistic forms, incorporated into necklaces and brooches to be sold throughout Europe