Coral is one of several so-called “organic gemstones,” the other main ones being pearls and amber. Made out of calcium carbonate (as are pearls) that’s secreted by organisms known as polyps, coral is mostly found in tropical oceans, where colonies of polyps are jammed together to create reefs.

The coral of most interest to jewelers is called precious or noble coral, Corallium rubrum, which ranges in color from dark red to pale rose and “grows” in branched deposits. Precious coral is harvested almost exclusively in the Mediterranean off the coasts of Italy, France, Spain, Algeria, and Tunisia. Other types or coral are pulled from the waters off Malaysia and Japan, Australia and Africa, and numerous Pacific isles.

Thought by the Romans to protect children, today many people are wondering if coral itself needs to be protected. Coral reefs are among the most threatened ecosystems on the planet, dying off at an alarming rate. Pollution along the coast caused by run-off into the world’s oceans is the biggest killer of coral, followed by damage caused by the fisherman.

Still, the perception that the jewelry industry may also be contributing to the problem makes coral an unpopular material for many people. Indeed, Hawaiian black coral, which is not made of calcium carbonate, is already protected, and movements are afoot to ban the harvesting of red and pink varieties, the ones most common to fine jewelry.

What’s made coral attractive to jewelers for so many centuries has been its seemingly inexhaustible supply; its relative softness, which lends itself to elaborate carvings such as intricate cameos; and the way it can be polished to a glossy, lustrous finish. Coral is often fashioned into round, barrel-shaped, or oblong beads, as well as show-stopping cabochons in necklaces and rings. Sometimes coral is left in its natural state, as when tiny branches are strung together to form a bracelet or pair of earrings.

Like turquoise, coral is a staple of Native American jewelry. Though there’s obviously no coral in the Southwestern United States where the Hopi and Zuni have historically lived, coral was introduced to indigenous peoples by 16th-century Spaniards, who imported the material for sale and trade.

Like turquoise, much of the coral on the market today is artificial, and not just in Naive American jewelry. 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.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

All About Jewels Dictionary

All About Jewels Dictionary

This incredible reference dictionary on jewelry, from Enchantedlearning.com, is both beautiful and comprehensive. S… [read review or visit site]

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Jewelry collectors, feast your eyes on this internet gem! It's a goldmine of jewelry information featuring all styl… [read review or visit site]

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

With its vast galleries featuring clear images of jewelry and style, this site really covers it all! Divided up by … [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Fine 9ct / 9k 375 Gold Victorian Natural Coral Necklace Antique Vintage Art Deco 14k Gold Pink Angelskin Coral Pearl 1.5" Long Earrings!**georgian 9ct Gold Natural Coral Ring C1790 18th Century*Estate Diamond 6.75ct Coral 18k White Gold Ring Pendant 13.3 Grams NrHeavy Vintage 18k Gold 33.6 X 27mm Pink Coral & Turquoise Rose Flower BroochRare Vintage Jonne Gold Gilt Coral Art Glass Rhinestone Pearl Beaded NecklaceVintage Sterling Silver | Navajo Turquoise Coral Squash Blossom | Necklace 16"Antique Old Natural Red Coral Necklace 9k Gold Clasp, Other Turquoise Jade SaleVintage Brooch Pin Genuine Carved Coral & Jade Flower Leaf Gold Tone I4Antique Vintage Deco 14k Gold Carved Mediterranean Red Coral Jade Pin Brooch**estate Carved Flower Coral Brooch 9.8 Grams 1.5" Antique Vintage Deco 18k Gold Abalone Ruby Red Coral Diamond Octopus Pin Brooch!A Vintage Chinese Crafted Silver Enamel Fan Brooch. Set With Turquoise & Coral.**estate Carved Flower Coral Brooch 26.6 Grams 1.5x1" Antique Vintage Art Deco 14k Gold Carved Angelskin Coral Rosebud Flower Necklace**estate 14k Yellow Gold Coral Earrings 9.7mm 3.0 Grams Vintage Jewellery Very Pretty Signed Seed Coral & Seed Pearl Link NecklaceVintage Art Deco Salmon Pink Branch Coral Flapper Necklace 130 CmVintage Dangling Coral-pink Celluloid Bead NecklaceVintage Jewellery Very Pretty Angel Skin Coral Full Parure Jewellery SetAntique Victorian 14k 10k Gold Faceted Ox Blood Red Coral Drop Dangle EarringsVintage Navajo Old Pawn Coral & Turquoise Snake Sterling G. Calavaza Bolo TieRare Vintage Jonne Gold Gilt Coral Glass Rhinestone Beaded Flower Clip EarringsVintage Zuni Sterling Silver Turquoise Coral Inlay Watch Bands Bracelet | G ANavajo Aj Signed Sterling Vintage Turquoise Coral Watch Tip Wristwatch Vintage Red Coral Natural Bead NecklaceRare Vintage Napier Silver Plate Ram Horn Turquoise Coral Glass Bead NecklaceVintage Carved Natural Coral Pin Brooch Flowers & Leaves Antique Old Stock Natural Coral Cabochons Others Amber Turquoise Jade Sale Antique Art Deco Sterling Silver Genuine Salmon Coral Emerald Crystal Paste RingVtg 14k Kt Yellow Gold Ravi Amber Real Pearl Black Coral Stone Pierced EarringsRare Vintage Napier Silver Plate Ram Horn Turquoise Coral Glass Bead EarringsVintage Inlaid Coral Turquoise Thunderbird W/ 1890 Silver Dollar Bracelet VafoAntique Victorian 10k Gold Filled Gf Coral Peridot Glass Bangle BraceletLovely Collection Of Vintage Coral Etc For Spares/repairs EtcVictorian Deco Vtg Big Jewelry Lot 10k Coral Ss Jade Gf Pins Necklaces Stones +Antique Vintage Art Deco .900 Platinum Mediterranean Coral Diamond Ring! S 7Vtg. Heuer Divers 980-026 Pvd"black Coral"200 Meters Professional Men WatchVan Cleef & Arpels 1970s Vintage Alhambra White Coral 18k Yellow Gold NecklaceAntique Art Deco 9k Gold 8mm Salmon Red Coral Ball Gold Crown Solitaire EarringsVintage Diamond Angel Skin Coral 18k Yellow Gold Ring 12.5 Grams NrVintage Diamond Coral 14k Multi Toned Gold Flower Ring 11.1 Grams NrBeautiful Antique Vintage White Hetian Jade Dark Green & Coral BeadsAntique - Large Ceremonial Bolo - Coral & Turquoise - Sterling Silver - No Res28 Vtg Turquoise Mop Coral Zuni Navajo Old Pawn Sterling Silver Ring Lot15ct/ 15k Gold Natural Coral & Seed Pearl Georgian 18th Century Locket Ring, 625Vintage Estate 14k Gold Clasp 9mm Coral Bead Necklace 34" Long Salmon Roe Pink14 Kt Yellow Gold Opal, Diamond, And Coral, Antique, Women's, Size 7 RingVintage Native American Sterling Silver Turquoise Coral Bear Belt Buckle Signed Retro Solid 18k Yellow Gold, Free Form Style Coral Etruscan Ring 11.8g ItalyVintage~navajo~mary S. Lew~sterling Silver~turquoise~coral~braceletRustic Old Pawn Vintage Navajo Handmade Coral & Turquoise Bracelet By GwrVintage 14k Solid Gold Angel Skin Coral Tulip Brooch 3.7gMassive Long 33in Signed Angel Skin Coral 14k Gold Ladies Vintage Bead NecklaceFab Rare Antique Chinese Enamel Coral Turquoise Elephant Pin/brooch On BrassLovely Antique Victorian Carved Red Coral Pin Brooch W/ Applied Leaves & FlowersPair Of Striking Matching Steel, Gold & Coral Rings By Eva Dora Lamm, DenmarkAntique Victorian Coral Bracelet 9ct Gold Bracelet Antique BraceletVintage~navajo~"jys"~sterling~turquoise~coral~chip Inlay~peyote Bird Belt BuckleSterling Silver And Carved Coral Ring Vintage / Antique ? Size ) O1/2