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Coral in Costume Jewelry

Posted by Laurie Zeiden on

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.


Antique Angelskin Coral Bar Pin

Angelskin Coral Pendant

Angelskin Coral and Pearls Antique Horseshoe Pin

Angelskin Coral Cuff Links

Carved Coral Cameo Stick Pin

Coral and Gold Fist Pendant

Branch Coral Pin

Unpolished Coral Bracelet

Antique Gold Filled Pin

Coral forms in branched deposits. Small pieces of branch coral are used in the following four antique designs.

Antique Beauty Pins with Branch Coral

Coral and Turquoise Pin

Carved Coral Pin

Coral and Jade Earrings

Coral Pin

Italian Coral Earrings with Gobbo Design

Antique Pin

Bracelet and Earrings Set with Mixture of Natural and Imitation Coral


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.


Trifari Bracelet

Trifari Pin

Unsigned Pin

Imitation Carved Coral Ring

White Branch Coral Pendant Necklace by Kenneth Jay Lane

Art Deco Necklace with Imitation Coral and Enamel

Antique Pin

Realistic but Imitation Carved Coral Pin

Vintage Necklace

Visit World of Eccentricity & Charm to see all the coral pieces available for sale. Just click here.


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