Coral is as old as time itself. It has existed for more than 240 million years. Humans have made jewelry out of
coral as far back as history can take us. Pink coral in the Sumerian Kingdom, Ancient Egypt and Greece stood for happiness and immortality. In India coral was held in high esteem due to its beauty, as well as to its healing and magic virtues.
In ancient Greece, pink and red corals were believed to help people find happiness and achieve immortality, as well as ward off misfortune and illness. Coral is one of the seven treasures in Buddhist scriptures, and a powerful symbol of happiness, health, wisdom and protection from evil. Tibetan Lamas used coral rosaries.
In iconography, the infant Jesus is often represented wearing a necklace of coral beads or having a small coral branch lying on his chest. A distinction should be made between coral reefs and precious corals. Coral reefs are made up of polyps, which look like plants and grow in water. But actually they are animals and feed by catching a wide range of small fish floating by. Some polyps live alone while others tend to live in colonies, building upon one another. They are members of the "flower animal" class. Each bud that forms on the parent colony becomes inseparable from the matrix and begins to put out branches similar to tree or flower arrangements. Water corals grow slowly, about 75 mm per year. Coral prefers a permanent temperature of 22 degrees C to thrive. Its cultivation is a nearly impossible or time-consuming and resource-sensitive task. Fake corals are often made of plastic painted in vibrant colors, which a jeweler's discerning eye can always identify.
Coral comes in a wide variety of 350 colors. Typical coral colors are red, white, pink, blue, golden, black, and speckled. The color of coral depends on the depth and temperature of its natural habitat and the type of food it feeds on.
Coral is an extremely sensitive organism, which reacts to any change in climate. Diamond is three times harder than coral. Coral gemstone cracks and dies in low temperatures. It flourishes when worn as a piece of jewelry since it derives strength from the warmth of the human body. Coral, like pearl, is kept in rice. As a plant growing in water, rice has all the properties of water.
The world's largest coral reef system, known as the Great Barrier Reef, is located in Australia. The total reef area worldwide is estimated at 27 million square kilometers. Reefs are soft and fragile and hence not fit for use in jewelry. Precious coral, by contrast, is firm. And its many colors make it appealing for jewelry.
Located at a depth of between three and three hundred meters, coral can be found along the shores of Japan, Taiwan, north-east Australia, the Red Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the Malaysian Archipelago, Hawaii, the Bay of Biscay, the Canary Islands, Sardinia, Tunisia, Algeria and Turkey. Coral is a vital part of the ocean ecosystem. It is an organic substance and has a chemical structure that is very similar to the composition of pearl. Calcium carbonate makes up a whopping 85 percent of coral. Porous coral is priced more reasonably than deep-water corals. Black coral is the most expensive. The richness in organic substances is the main value factor of such coral.
Beside naturally harvested coral, there is also cultivated coral hand-painted in different colors, mostly in vibrant red. The French researcher Gilson figured out a method to create synthetic coral. His corals occur in eight colors - red, pale pink, pale yellow, white, ox-blood red, angel skin, salmon and champagne. The successful synthesis of coral can be achieved by putting source materials into a high- pressure autoclave that operates under adequate temperatures, and by adding the necessary amount of calcium and paints. Though being a near-perfect imitation of natural coral, synthetic coral is of inferior quality as it is not produced by a living organism. What sets Gilson's coral apart from its natural counterpart is the absence of net-like patterns on it.
Coral is an especially powerful good luck gem for all zodiac signs, except one - the sign of Capricorn. The rule states that red coral should be worn by men and white coral - by women. Red coral increases masculine characteristics, while white coral raises feminine energy. Red coral makes a woman feel manly, Amazonian.
It is believed that coral relieves stress, drives away fears and is also an ideal gem for a happy marital life. Coral endows the wearer with wisdom and helps one who is pampered develop a greater sense of humility. It is a lucky talisman for romantic people, letting their imagination run away with them. Coral is an effective beauty treatment and an excellent enhancer of perception.
Coral is famous for its healing properties as well. It prevents the intestines from going into spasm. It is a natural remedy to help dissolve bladder stones. Coral protects against poisoning and insomnia, stops bleeding, eases pain and provides an excellent cure for nervous disorders and epilepsy. Coral contains hormones that have a soothing effect on the human body. Being an early pointer to disease, coral assumes an earthen color if the wearer suffers from cancer, and fades if worn by a sick person.
Coral reefs provide home to the richest biodiversity and make even greater contributions to our lives. Their popularity has had a negative effect on coral reefs, which are now suffering from a high amount of disruption and damage, and they sorely need protection.