- Category: Gemstone Beads
Coral - the Living Gemstone
The gemstone from the sea will bring you money everywhere you show it!
Like pearl and turquoise, everyone appreciates coral. All three beads together create stunning designed jewelry. Its rustic shaped branches are perfect for creating ethnic jewelry - and because coral is porous and soft, it can be color enhanced and carved into interesting shapes.
What is coral?
It's not a true gemstone, but a result of marine life that's been used as a gem since prehistoric times. Coral is one of the seven treasures in Buddhist scriptures and has long been a strong talisman protecting against evil spirits and hurricanes. Some believe red coral promotes fertility. It's also said to lower blood pressure, help anemia, and is thought to give wisdom and prevent madness!
Coral is the outer skeleton of sea polyps, made of calcium carbonate. It usually ranges from white to red, and grows in branches that look like underwater trees. Red, pink, and white corals are typically dense - while sponge and blue corals have small air pockets and interesting spotted patterns. Most for jewelry comes from the Mediterranean or the China Sea off Japan and Taiwan. Reefs in the South Pacific like the Great Barrier Reef grow a different species.
Value of coral
The price of coral remains low only because of stockpiles from the 1980s. However, due to over-harvesting and environmental damage, it's becoming rarer. Natural red coral is very expensive as it grows only at about 1/4 inch a year. Most red coral sold today has been dyed. It's easy to tell on bold red beads, but the pink and blue corals are usually color enhanced as well.
Fossil or agatized coral produces more subtle textures. This is ancient coral that has been replaced by agate so slowly that the flower-like patterns of the original coral remained intact. Though it will not make a bold statement like the red corals, fossil corals have their own charm. They are expensive and mostly beige; but the grayish flower patterns may have subtle hints of pink, blue, and other colors.
Traditional coral is usually used in its natural shape resembling a twiglet - where sponge coral is reconstituted into more-useable shapes. Sponge coral is then stabilized with a binding solution and polished to give a high luster. Without this processing, the sponge variety would be very brittle and dull in appearance.
Designing Coral Jewelry
Try mixing red and whites along with turquoise and pearl. Coral chips are very affordable, but long root coral allows your imagination to go wild designing ethnical jewelry. Make matching sets of necklaces, bracelets, and earrings to boost your sales. Have fun mixing colored corals, but keep similar colors together. Dispay your coral jewelry on clam and scallop shells, with fishing net and beach rocks to enhance its ocean appeal.