The gemological database is rich in tons of valuable information about precious stones, many of them never seen or heard of by the vast jewelry auditorium. One of them is coral, an extraordinary organic gem whose process of creation stuns everyone, even the most experienced and renowned gemologists on the planet. If you have never known anything about the coral gemstone, this can be your perfect opportunity to learn some of the most fascinating facts about it that barely anyone is familiar with. Enjoy!
Coral occurs at an ocean depth of more than 500 feet.
Coral, as a gemstone variety, forms on coral reefs covered with sand, rocks and plants, visited by hundreds of marine animals that play a crucial role in its occurrence. It is a long and delicate process, which can be considered a great indicator of the uniqueness and value of this precious colored gem. The typical environment for coral to form are tropical ocean waters, such as the Indian Ocean and the central portions of the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean. At a depth of at least five hundred feet where the ocean water is mysteriously dark, the coral-forming process begins in rocky seabeds and small, soft-bodies living organisms that stimulate the stone to grow. Hence, the solid calcium carbonate structure starts having intricate branches fused with carotenoid pigments, which are responsible for coral’s reddish-orange color. Once again, it is important to mention that the coral gemstone grows as slow as only a millimeter per year, hence the reason why it is often found in small carat sizes.
Coral Bangle Bracelet
Hawaiian coral is the rarest coral variety in existence, forbidden for jewelry use.
Coral can be found on several locations in the world, each specific for offering a particular coral color. As previously mentioned, the red/orange hues are the most common, but they are not the only ones. For example, “Corallium rubrum” is the rarest and at the same time, the most desirable color of the coral gemstone. It is specific for the genuine pink-orange hue mixed with white streaks that can be seen in Hawaiian specimens only. Some of them even exhibit the effect of chatoyancy, also known as “cat’s eye effect” that makes the gem’s inclusions silky-white in color and utterly attractive to the observer’s eye. Therefore, they are not allowed for trade and export, due to the fact that the process of forming is very slow and it could lead to an entire disappearance of this noble coral variety. The second reason is environmental protection.
Coral is not a gem of highest quality.
It might be popular and attractive for its specific color, but coral does not have the very best performance in the fine jewelry world. The first and probably the biggest drawback is its softness (it ranks 3 on the Moh’s scale of hardness), meaning that it is not good for an everyday jewelry wear, because it will be easily prone to scratching, chipping and breaking. Next in the row of cons is dullness. If the coral gemstone is not thoroughly polished, it would not be interesting for jewelry making. Therefore, coral requires to be given a glossy luster to look shiny and alluring, although its highest refractive index cannot reach higher than 1.658, which is normally not the best scintillation of a colored gem. For example, the refractive index of diamond is 2.419, while the refractive index of hematite is so far, the highest of all gems.
Coral and Diamond Drop Earrings
“Torre del Greco” is the best-selling coral in the world.
Near Naples in Italy, there is Torre del Greco, known as world’s top trading center of coral. In the past two centuries, this place has been producing the best-selling coral in the world, covering almost 80% of the entire gemstone market. One of the popular tourist attractions in this place is Torre del Greco's coral museum, where you can see a mind-blowing collection of ancient coral jewelry that holds an exceptional value, not just for the country itself, but the global gemstone jewelry community. This is also the place where the most elaborate designs of coral jewelry come from, thanks to the existence of a great number of jewelry houses in this particular Italian region.
Coral is thought to have mysterious healing properties.
The popularity of the coral gemstone as a sacred stone dates back to Ancient Egypt, where is was used as a protection from the evil spirits. People believed that the “blood” of coral is divine, therefore, they used it as a necklace adornment for children to protect them from any danger, including blood contamination. In Italy, on the other hand, there is an old ritual of wearing coral jewelry to fight infertility, which is still highly respected in the Italian culture.
The coral gemstone is incredibly popular in astrology as well. There, it enjoys a reputation of a gem connected with the planet Mars, and according to the Roman religion, Mars is the God of war. Hence, the protective features of coral that are undoubtedly, one of the top reasons for wearing coral jewelry. In some cultures, especially in India, this precious stone is widely used to heal bites and cuts from snakes and scorpions.
Important notice: The health benefits of coral are not officially recognized, hence, they should not be taken as confirmed medicine. They are just popular in the world of alternative medicine, so before taking the decision to try any of coral’s healing properties, please talk to your physician first.
Long Red Coral Necklace
Coral looks best in antique, ornamental jewelry designs.
This does not mean that the coral gemstone cannot produce the effect of modernity and stylishness, but the truth is, it looks incomparably beautiful in antique and vintage-inspired designs. The reason? Its color and history. Coral can be frequently seen in the form of beads, as a part of string jewelry - bracelets and necklaces mostly. Inspired by its natural look, some jewelry designers use the coral gemstone to create one-of-a-kind branch-like pieces, which are often sold as custom jewelry.