Coral jewelry was the rage during the Victorian era and is still popular today, even as it has become more and more scarce as many coral reefs have come under governmental protection. So a piece of coral jewelry that has been passed down through the generations is a precious item indeed.
How Coral Is Created
Coral, like pearl, is an animal product and not a stone or mineral.
The animal is a polyp with a frankly odd and complicated life cycle that forms large colonies, which sometimes branch out like trees or antlers.
Eventually, the animal constructs a limestone skeleton from calcium that it has extracted from the sea.
Because coral is very soft, it has to be treated with great care. It should be cleaned with a soft, clean cloth, and then rinsed in warm, soapy water.
It should never be soaked, nor put in an ultrasonic cleaner, nor subjected to a jewelry dip.
If the coral is dusty, the dust can be blown off with a can of compressed air, which can be bought at an office supply store.
The coral can also be rinsed in the sink, and then dried thoroughly with a soft cloth.
How to Store Coral
Coral jewelry should be stored in its own soft fabric pouch (here’s one model that is popular) or in its own till in the jewelry box so that it’s not scratched.
Larger pieces of coral jewelry should be wrapped in tissue so they don’t scratch other objects beside them.
Wearing Coral Jewelry
Coral jewelry should only be worn after the person has put on their perfume and make-up and needs to be taken off when they go swimming, wash the dishes, clean, or cook with vinegar.
Coral Color and Value
Coral can come in a variety of colors, from soft pink to red to black, which is the color of the precious coral found in the Great Barrier Reef off Australia.
Gemologists believe that the more even the color of a coral, the greater its value.
Coral Used in Jewelry
Coral was often cut into beads to form necklaces, cameos or flowers for brooches.
The coral that’s used for jewelry is called precious coral. It has a hard core or internal skeleton that can take a high polish.
Precious coral comes from the Mediterranean, the Sea of Japan and the Great Barrier Reef.