Coral is the gem for the 35th wedding anniversary.
Coral is formed by living organisms, like pearls. Coral polyps grow in tropical and subtropical ocean waters, forming branching, antler-like structures. When the polyps die they leave hardened skeletal remains and this material is used as a gemstone. It has been harvested for decorative use since ancient times.
Coral is believed to be one of the oldest forms of gemstone jewellery, having been found in ancient Egyptian and prehistoric European Burials. Some pieces have been dated as far back as 23,000BC. Red Coral has been highly regarded since early civilizations for its colour, lustre and texture. It was especially popular during the Victorian age.
Most coral is white, but the type that is most used in jewellery, known as “Precious Coral” occurs as warm orange to reddish pink colours from pale pink to deep red. In fact, the colour known as coral is derived from this gem material. Coral gemstones can be all one solid uniform colour or display zones or swirls of pale to darker tones.
Coral is is naturally matte, but can be polished to a glassy shine. Coral gemstones can be either solid or porous, depending on the polyp formation. Coral is mainly made into cabochons and beads, plain domed or carved in floral patterns. It is occasionally confused with Carnelian which is much harder.
Despite Coral’s pretty colours, it is very soft and brittle and does not make a durable gemstone. It is prone to both scratches and chipping. Due to environmental protection laws worldwide, production of Coral for the gemstone trade is on the decline.
Coral grows in the Red Sea, the Midway Islands, the Canary Islands, the Taiwan and Malaysian Coast, the coast of Australia, Italy, (Sardinia), and Hawaii.