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Article: Precious coral

Precious coral

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

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