Coral is one of the few classes of gemstones known as 'organic' as they have biological origins rather than being created through a crystalline structure. Other members of this limited family include:
We need to be careful not to confuse Coral with Fossil Coral. Coral or more correctly, Precious Coral, is a gemstone quality variety of natural coral - very much like the coral you see in tropical reefs - but a deep water version which grows at depth of over 500 feet in dark environments.
Fossil Coral is formed over millions of years as the skeletons of natural coral is replaced by agate under very unique geological conditions and is considered a type of chalcedony rather than precious coral.
Precious coral is typically a pink to red colored gemstone with a few salmon or orange variations also found. Certain waters can create gold, white, blue or black coral but this is incredibly rare and the trade in these gemstones is very regulated so buying should be approached with care.
Coral colors can fade over time if exposed to heat or direct sunlight so should be kept tucked away when not being worn.
Read more about gemstones colors here
Coral is formed over a long period of time - often growing at a rate of just 1 millimeter per year - by tiny marine animals known as polyps. These very small creatures are soft bodied with hard shells that accumulate as a colony grows in complex branches.
These structures are composed of hardened calcium carbonate and colored by carotenoid pigments and can range in size from a few inches across to enormous coral reefs.
What are the spiritual benefits of Coral?
Coral was one of mankind's first decorative gemstones and was undoubtedly endowed with spiritual powers soon after.
Its most important power is that of protection - ancient Gauls used coral to adorn their weapons and helmets as a safeguard in battle, Egyptians placed coral into tombs to protect the dead from evil spirits and the Romans would make pendants from coral for their children to keep them safe.
Other strengths include:
- Absorbs Negative Energy
- Keeps you safe when traveling at sea
- Encourages Friendship
- Inspires Enthusiasm and Passion
See our detailed article on gemstone meaning and uses
Red Coral is called Moonga in Hindi and is a very important gemstone in Jyotish astrology.
See our Jyotish Gemstone article here
Coral and the Chakras
The Chakras are centers of energy situated throughout the body which can influence us both emotionally and physically. Each Chakra has an associated color and a gemstone of a similar color can be used to clear a blocked Chakra.
The color of the coral will determine the associated Chakra:
- Pink Coral - The Heart Chakra
- Red Coral - The Root Chakra
- Orange Coral - The Sacral Chakra
Find more details on Chakra gemstones here
Color is the most important factor when pricing Coral, as with nearly all gemstones, and bright red colors are preferred over pale examples. Whether they are red, pink or orange a deep even color is the most admired.
Another factor to remember is the surface - a smooth finish, free of pits or blemishes, is much preferred.
Large Coral gemstones of the finest quality are hard to find so as they increase in carat weight, the price per carat will rise rapidly.
Large, red blemish free Coral gemstones can easily reach $200 per carat if they are above 2 or 3 carats in weight and even smaller gemstones will still be above $100 per carat.
Coral gemstone carvings are very popular and can be found in larger sizes sometimes at great prices because a skilled artist can cut out any flaws or marks that would be seen in a smooth cabochon. These carvings can range from $15 or $20 per carat up to a few hundred dollars.
Coral gemstones that are not as evenly colored can make very interesting items, with intriguing patterns and markings plus splashes of color. They are ideal for one-off jewelry pieces for anyone looking for something unique or curious. These can be snapped up for just a few dollars per carat.
Coral is not usually treated except for the cutting, polishing and occasionally carving into the lovely gems you see on our website.
Coral can be bleached, dyed, waxed or stabilized but, although these treatments are permanent, this will lessen the value of your coral compared to totally natural examples.
We will always disclose any treatments our gemstones receive.
Coral is a natural and relatively soft material with some stunning colors so it is no wonder it is one of our earliest gemstones or adornments. Our ancestors would have collected coral washed up on the beach after a storm and the more imaginative would have created pendants or bracelets.
As red coral amulets have been discovered in Neolithic graves in Switzerland, miles from any ocean, dating back 10,000 years, they were obviously traded too.
Where is Coral found?
Italy has historically been the source of the finest red Coral for centuries and is still a major supplier. Other sources include Australia, Egypt, Indonesia, Taiwan, Japan and Hawaii.
What jewelry is Coral suitable for?
Precious Coral is rated at 3 to 4 Mohs hardness scale which makes it quite soft for use in jewelry, however necklaces, pendants, brooches and earrings will be no problem as these are usually not subject to knocks and bumps.
Rings could be a problem unless they have very protective settings and just worn every now and then.