Coral Meaning and Properties

Coral History

Coral jewelry has been found in ancient Egyptian and prehistoric European burials and was especially popular during the Victorian age. Ancient Egyptians used coral pieces in tombs as protection against evil spirits in the afterworld, as it is believed to contain a drop of divine blood. There was significant trade in coral between the Mediterranean and India at the beginning of the first millennium.

The Gauls often used coral as ornamentation for their helmets and weapons in the belief that it was a protective stone. The Romans hung branches of coral around the necks of their children to protect them from danger. In the early 20th century, the people of Italy used coral for protection from the "evil eye" and for infertility.

Precious coral or red coral is the common name given to Corallium rubrum and several related species of marine coral. In the trade, Corallium rubrum is sometimes referred to as "noble coral" and is considered to be the most desirable type of coral for jewelry.


Dive deeper into the magic of coral gemstones. Explore coral’s intriguing organic nature, far reaching historical wake, and breadth of metaphysical benefits to discover what makes this undersea treasure so unique.

Coral Metaphysical Properties

Coral is highly-prized as a substance believed to be endowed with mysterious sacred properties. It is a symbol of modesty, wisdom, happiness and immortality. It is commonly known to remedy spasms of intestines, sleeplessness, and bladder stones.

Coral can reduce stress and fears and combats foolishness, nervousness, fear, depression, panic and nightmares. Coral is used to attract success and wealth and strengthens foresight. Coral is a good aid for meditation or visualization.

Coral Geological Properties

Coral has been called the "garden of the sea" because it was once believed to be a plant. Instead, coral belongs to a small, but important group of organic gemstones. Coral is formed through a biological process rather than being a mineral with a crystalline structure like most colored stones. Precious coral is a deep water coral that forms in rocky seabeds with low levels of sedimentation, typically in dark environments over 500-feet deep. Coral is slowly built by very small marine animals known as coral polyps. These tiny, soft-bodied creatures form with small, hard shells that accumulate as the colony grows. Over time, the colony begins to form complex branches and skeletal structures composed of hardened calcium carbonate, and colored by carotenoid pigments. These formations grow very slowly, often as little as just one millimeter per year, ranging in size from small, hand-sized structures to enormous coral reefs.

Coral is an organic material and is not an especially hard or durable gemstone with a hardness rating of 3 to 4 on the Mohs scale. Precious coral is found throughout the world but Torre del Greco (near Naples, Italy) has been the top coral trading center for over 200 years, processing nearly 75% of the entire world's supply of coral. Most coral is harvested from the western Mediterranean Sea, especially in Sardinia. Notable deposits are found in the Red Sea, Bay of Biscay, Malaysian Archipelago, Midway Islands, Japan, Taiwan, Australia and the Hawaiian Islands.

Mineral Information Calcium carbonate, magnesia and organic substance
Chemical Composition SaCO3
Color Deep red to soft pink
Hardness 3 to 4 (Mohs)
Specific Gravity 2.6 - 2.7
Refractive Index 1.486 - 1.658

Proper Care of Coral

Coral is very sensitive to acid and heat. Coral's color is known to fade with wear and tear. To prevent color loss, avoid exposing coral to direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time and avoid temperature extremes. Do not clean coral with harsh household cleaners, such as bleach or acid and avoid spraying perfumes or hairspray on the stones.

Clean coral with a soft cloth and mild soap or detergent if needed. To prevent scratches, avoid wearing other gems in close contact with your coral jewelry. Store coral jewelry in a fabric-lined jewelry box or wrap in a soft cloth.

To learn more about coral and other gemstones, order your copy of Walter Schumann's revised and expanded edition of Gemstones of the World.

Designing with Coral

Coral is beautifully complemented by sterling silver beads and components. Pair with turquoise or amber for statement pieces and enjoy the style power of wearing red. Mix with similar shades of crystal beads for a magical look.

View more resources featuring coral, including Design Ideas, Videos, Tutorials and more!

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