Coral is one of three organic gemstones - pearls and amber are the other two. Like pearls, coral is made of calcium carbonate.The coral most often seen in jewelry is called precious or noble coral, Corallium rubrum. It ranges in color from dark red to pale rose. The palest rose tone pieces are called Angelskin Coral. Coral is also found in tones ranging from sand to black. These corals, called Black Coral and Hawaiian Coral, have a different organic composition and are a bit less brittle than precious corals. Unfortunately, I have no examples of these to share.
The hard skeleton of coral branches is naturally matte, but can be polished to a glassy shine. Because it is a relatively soft substance, coral is easy to carve and shape.
The most sought after corals are harvested in the Mediterranean off the coasts of Italy, France, Spain, Algeria, and Tunisia. Other types of coral are pulled from the waters off of Malaysia and Japan, Australia and Africa, and numerous Pacific islands.
Coral forms in branched deposits. Small pieces of branch coral are used in the following four antique designs.
IS IT REAL OR FAKE?
To spot the real thing, look for white flecks and patches on and inside the gem’s surface. If a blood-red piece of coral has no such irregularities and its price seems too good to be true, then it’s probably synthetic.
CORAL TONED JEWELRY
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