Coral – Colors, Shapes, and Sizes
Coral can be cut and created into an enormous amount of shapes and sizes, for the most part; Coral is usually designed into beads or cameos. It is also left in its natural shape which is branch like. Coral in its original shape just needs a good polishing to make it ready for commercial sale.
Coral is extremely attractive, very hard, can be polished nicely and comes in stunning colors. Many times, Coral is mistaken as a gemstone or a mineral that occurs in the earth’s crust; in fact, it is created from living organisms.
Coral comes in a variety of colors including white, black, orange, salmon, pale pink and red. While salmon or pale pink are perhaps the most popular colors associated with Coral, red Coral is the most rare and valuable.
How and where is Coral formed and found?
Coral is an interesting material, it is not a mineral or gemstone, in fact it doesn’t come from the earth’s crust, it is created from living organisms. Coral is an extremely interesting material that is hard, can have a smooth texture when polished and comes in a variety of very attractive colors.
Coral is actually a form of calcium carbonate. You might be aware of calcium carbonate as it is the same type of material as Marble or Aragonite. Very small sea organisms called Coral polyps that live in the ocean in large colonies secrete these strands creating a habitat that protects them. Coral is a wonderful material that comes in many beautiful colors, most notably white, orange, black, pink or salmon which may be called Angel Skin and red. Red Coral is extremely beautiful and very rare. It is sometimes referred to as Fire Coral and it is used in lots of Tibetan jewelry.
Coral can be found all over the world, however for the most part, the Coral that is used for ornamental jewelry usually comes from Italy, specifically Sicily and off the coasts of Sardinia. Coral is also found off of Australia, near Japan and even as far north as Norway. However, the finest qualities are usually located in the warmer waters.
Coral is created by polyps that secrete Coral only a few millimeters in thickness, usually it can take a few years for Coral to grow into large enough pieces for jewelry. Jewelry is usually fashioned into beads, cameos and other types of shapes. It is also used for jewelry in its natural shape which is branch like. Usually it is first polished. There are artificial Coral which is created by glass, plastic and porcelain; however, you can tell the real Coral by dropping a drop of acid on it, real Coral with effervesce.
The Uses of Coral
One of the most distinctive ornamental jewelry items around is Coral. Coral is not a mineral or gemstone per say, it is actually a secretion formed by thousands upon thousands of small organisms. Coral is calcium carbonate, which is essentially like Aragonite or Marble. Small Coral polyps secrete this material to create a habitat for protection in the sea.
Coral comes in many fine colors including orange, white, black, pale or pink which is called Angel Skin Coral and even in a deep red, which is the rarest type and sometimes referred to as fire Coral. While the majority of Coral is used for ornamental jewelry, older Coral reefs that are now found in land are used as a building supply, called Coral rag. There are a few prehistoric Coral reefs that are now found in land on the Isle of Portland, as well as in Africa. Because calcium carbonate is a tough and strong material, it is a great product to build homes and other structures with. Since dried up Coral reefs are usually huge in scale, it is an affordable material as well.
It should be noted that while most of the Coral that is sold is natural and genuine, there are fake Coral products available as well. They are usually created either by plastic, glass or porcelain. It is easy to spot fake Coral because true Coral which is made from calcium carbonate will effervesce when it comes into contact with acid, fake Coral from plastic, glass and porcelain will not.
Coral – The History and Origins
Coral has been known to man since ancient times and the word Coral comes from Greek, however the exact meaning is not known. Most of the Coral that is used for jewelry today comes from the Mediterranean Sea, usually coming from Sicily or near Sardinia.
Coral has always been popular as a material for jewelry, but has also been given qualities for mystical purposes. For instance, during the Middle Ages, Coral was used as a material to protect one from harm. Because of this mystical trait, Coral was given to children to wear and also was worn as charms or penchants.