Precious Coral comes from the Greek Korallion which means “hard skeleton.”

Precious coral forms in deep rocky seabed waters typically in the shadows of crevices and sea caverns.

Coral is formed by a marine animal called coral polyps. These white, small, soft body sea animals create shell skeletons from their secretions of calcium carbonate. Over the years these complex skeletal structures, coloured in shades of red by carotenoid pigments, begin to branch out into colonies. These beautiful coral structures grow 1 millimeter per year. As colonies grow over hundreds and thousands of years, they join with other colonies and become reefs that can be hundreds of miles long.

The coral gemstone that we know today comes from the species “corallium rubrum,” a red to pink colored species of the coral genus. They are commonly known as Red or Precious Corals.

Corallium rubrum is also called “noble coral.” The premier of this species is the red "oxblood" coral. The other valuable one, almost as prized as the "oxblood", is the "angel skin coral" which is a pink to salmon colored coral.

Coral is organic material and therefore its hardness is only 3 to 4 on Mohs scale. This means that it is not as durable as diamonds or other gemstones whose hardness is above 7. Due to its softness, coral is usually cut in cabochon form.

Corals are commonly named after their appearance, for example, Brain Coral, Cup Coral, Mushroom Coral, Organ Pipe Coral and Star Coral.

Precious coral is typically translucent to opaque and exhibits an attractive vitreous luster.

Coral is found all over the world but those from Italy is the most valued. Corals from Japan, Hawaii and the Red Sea are also considered the finest specimens. Most of the Precious Coral that is on the market today comes from the western Mediterranean Sea, especially in Sardinia. Coral is also obtained from the Red Sea, the Bay of Biscay, the Malaysian Archipelago, the Midway Islands, Japan, Taiwan, Australia and the Hawaiian Islands.

Its colors vary from bright-red to dark-red, orange-red, orange-pink, pink, white, blue or black and gold. Light red is called momo coral, medium red coral is called Sardegna and deep blood red is known as the moro coral.

Precious gold colored coral which comes from Hawaii is very rare and it is much desired for its cat’s eye (chatoyancy) effect. Black and blue coral are rarely used in gems probably because its trade is severely controlled.

Among the Hopi and Zuni natives of the United States, there are four sacred directional stones. These are the JET, ABALONE, TURQUOISE and CORAL.

Surviving Sumerian tablets more than 3000 years ago recorded the use of corals as teethers for their babies. The ancient people believed that corals protect their babies from sickness and would hang corals on their babies' cradles and on the necks of their children to protect them from danger.

Since ancient times, Precious Coral was believed to be endowed with mysterious, sacred, spiritual and very powerful properties. No other gemstone has been used more than the Precious Coral to destroy the first glance of the Evil Eye (of the Serpent headed goddess Medusa).

In Italy Precious Coral was called the Witch Stone, because it was believed that it protects women from sorcerers and men from female witches.

It also protected men and women from the Incubi and Succubi demons that come to them when they are asleep. It was believed that these demons fear Red Corals but that Brown Corals attract them.

Furthermore, the ancient Egyptians deposited precious coral in tombs of the departed to protect them against evil spirits. It was believed, just as in ancient Greece, that Coral contained sacred blood of a god or a goddess.

In Hindu astrology red coral is associated with the planet Mars or Graha-Mangala and used for pleasing Mars. Therefore, Hindu gurus warn against wearing discolored, dirty or dull precious coral specimens. If we are to wear precious coral, it must be pure with no blemishes.

Shivanetra or Rudrakhsha, is the reddish yellow coral which today is used to make the sacred mala beads. [Note, the garden of eternity or the Jennet el-Khuld of Islam is also of yellow coral.]

Today coral is still used widely for protection against the evil eye and black magic.

It also helps to overcome depression and boosts self-esteem. It purifies blood and protects against cuts, bruises, wounds n injuries.

Coral is very sensitive to acid and heat. Consequently, remember to take off your coral jewelry during house cleaning as bleach, acids and other chemicals can damage the luster of your coral. Perfumes and hairspray should not come into contact with corals too. Color is also known to fade away when worn throughout the years.

Care has to be taken not to keep corals with other gemstones. Due to its relative softness, it scratches easily.

References of Precious Coral in literature:

From: Metamorphoses by Ovid
Translated by Sir Samuel Garth, John Dryden, et al

Mean-time, on shore triumphant Perseus stood,
And purg'd his hands, smear'd with the monster's blood:
Then in the windings of a sandy bed
Compos'd Medusa's execrable head.
But to prevent the roughness, leafs he threw,
And young, green twigs, which soft in waters grew,
There soft, and full of sap; but here, when lay'd,
Touch'd by the head, that softness soon decay'd.
The wonted flexibility quite gone,
The tender scyons harden'd into stone.
Fresh, juicy twigs, surpriz'd, the Nereids brought,
Fresh, juicy twigs the same contagion caught.
The nymphs the petrifying seeds still keep,
And propagate the wonder thro' the deep.
The pliant sprays of coral yet declare
Their stiff'ning Nature, when expos'd to air.
Those sprays, which did, like bending osiers, move,
Snatch'd from their element, obdurate prove,
And shrubs beneath the waves, grow stones above.

From: Paracelsus And The Substance Of His Teachings by Franz Hartmann

"Over whom -they can, gain power. There are a great
many kinds of such spirits, goc>3 as well as evil ones,
and they love to be near man. In this they are com-
parable to dogs, who are also fond of the company of
men. But man can profit nothing from their company.
They are empty shadows (shells), and are only an encum-
brance to him. They are afraid of red corals, as dogs
are afraid of a whip ; but the brown corals attract them " *
(Herbarius Theophrasti : De Corallis).

1 Paracelsus recommends the wearing of red corals as a remedy against melancholy. They are said to be ruled by the influence of the sun, while those of brown colour are under the influence of the moon. The red ones are disagreeable not only to Phantasmata, but also to Monsters, Incubi, Snccubi, and other evil spirits ; but the brown, corals are agreeable to and
attract them.


For every day gentlewomen of England do ask for such trifles from stall to stall:
And you must bring more, as amber, jet, coral, crystal, and every
such babble,
That is slight, pretty and pleasant: they care not to have it profitable.
And if they demand wherefore your wares and merchandise agree,
You must say jet will take up a straw: amber will make one fat:
Coral will look pale, when you be sick, and crystal staunch blood.
So with lying, flattering and glosing you must utter your ware,
And you shall win me to your will, if you can deceitfully swear.