Habitat and Anatomy
- Red corals grow on rocky seabottom with low sedimentation.
- They are typically found in dark environments, either in the depths or in dark caverns or crevices.
- The original species, C. rubrum, is mainly found in the Mediterranean Sea.
- It grows at depths from 10 to 300 meters below sea level.
- Other Corallium species are native to the western Pacific, notably around Japan and Taiwan.
- Red corals have the shape of small leafless bushes and can grow up to a meter in height.
- Their valuable skeleton is composed of intermeshed spicules of hard calcium carbonate.
- The skeletal branches are overlaid with soft bright red integument.
- The polyps exhibit octameric radial symmetry.
- The hard skeleton of red coral branches can be polished to a glassy shine.
History of Trade and Cultural Significance
- Coral was highly prized as a substance believed to have mysterious sacred properties.
- It was traded between the Mediterranean and India at the beginning of the 1st millennium.
- The belief in coral's charm and medicinal virtues continued throughout the Middle Ages.
- The securing of coral fisheries off the African coasts was the object of rivalry among Mediterranean communities.
- The coral trade flourished in the town of Torre del Greco in Italy.
- Greek mythology explains the origin of coral through the story of Perseus and Medusa.
- Coral is associated with the planet Mars in Hindu astrology.
- Red coral is prominently featured in the civic coat of arms of the town of Alghero, Italy.
- Coral is mentioned as one of the gems in paradise in Islam.
- Red precious coral jewelry is a signifier of high social rank among the Yoruba and Bini peoples of West Africa.
- Intensive fishing, particularly in shallow waters, has damaged red coral populations along the Mediterranean coastline.
- Fishing and climate change threaten the persistence of red corals.
- Marine protected areas have helped in the conservation of red coral colonies.
- Banyuls, Carry-le-Rouet, and Scandola, all host substantial populations of C. rubrum.
- Since protection was established, colonies have grown in size and number at shallow and deeper depths.
- The establishment of marine protected areas has contributed to the conservation of red coral and other marine species.
- Sustainable harvesting practices and regulations are necessary to prevent overexploitation of coral resources.
- Climate change and ocean acidification pose significant threats to coral reefs worldwide.
- Collaboration between scientists, policymakers, and local communities is crucial for the long-term conservation of coral and the sustainability of marine ecosystems.
Historical Significance of Precious Coral
- Precious coral has been used for jewelry and decorative purposes for centuries.
- It has been mentioned in ancient texts, such as Ovid's Metamorphoses.
- Coral fishing and the creation of coral artifacts have a long history, particularly in places like Malta.
- The significance of coral goes beyond its aesthetic value, as it has been considered apotropaic, medical, and symbolic.
- The use of coral in jewelry became popular during the Victorian era.
Coral as a Natural Resource and Coral in Jewelry and Fashion
- Precious coral is found in various parts of the world, including the Mediterranean Sea.
- It is a marine invertebrate that forms colonies and builds complex structures.
- The harvesting of coral for commercial purposes can have negative ecological impacts.
- Marine protected areas have been established to conserve red coral and other long-lived marine invertebrates.
- The conservation of coral is important for maintaining biodiversity and the health of marine ecosystems.
- Coral has cultural significance in different societies and has been used in traditional jewelry and adornments.
- In some cultures, it is believed to have protective and healing properties.
- Coral has been associated with fertility, prosperity, and good luck in certain traditions.
- It has been used in religious ceremonies and as a symbol of wealth and social status.
- The color of coral, particularly red coral, is often associated with passion, energy, and vitality.
- Precious coral is highly valued for its vibrant colors and unique texture, making it a popular choice for jewelry.
- Coral jewelry can range from delicate pieces to bold statement accessories.
- The use of coral in fashion has evolved over time, reflecting changing trends and styles.
- Coral beads, cabochons, and carvings are commonly used in jewelry design.
- Coral can be paired with other gemstones and metals to create stunning and versatile pieces.
Precious coral Data Sources