Coral jewelry art
Coral is a material of the skeleton of the colony of coral polyps (“bioherm”). Large concentrations of corals form coral reefs and coral islands. The usual and ordinary corals are used as raw materials to produce lime, but some rare species are a precious raw material for the manufacture of jewelry. Among the variety of marine resources in nature, there are real deep water treasures – pink, black, “gold”, blue and bamboo coral. In the Mediterranean Sea and off the coast of Japan live red or precious corals – gorgonians. From their calcareous skeleton of red and pink, purified from polyps, even in ancient times, at least 25 thousand years ago, produced expensive necklaces, bracelets, brooches, cameos, and other products.
Coral – one of the most ancient jewelry materials; archaeologists found beads of pink coral of Mediterranean origin, among the remains of Paleolithic man in a cave Vildsheyer (Germany), which age – 35-10 thousand years BC. The literature describes the Sumerian five-thousand-year-old vase of decorated corals.
The ancient Greeks considered pink coral a symbol of immortality, believed that it could protect the wearer from the “evil eye”, poisoning, cure for gout and other diseases. In ancient times, coral jewelry finally entered the vocabulary. Ancient Greek legend tells that when Perseus with the severed head of Medusa the Gorgon was flying over the sea, in those places where the drops of blood fell into the water, rose red corals, called gorgonian.
One can say that in fashion coral jewelry exists more than two thousand years, and it did not pass a single epoch, a single state. In the jewelry art of medieval Russia coral found the widest application as inlaid material. In the era of European Renaissance developed glyptic tradition of carving on corals that in our time is largely extinct, at least in Europe.
Pnk coral was highly prized in ancient China. In the famous Kurkatsk tombs on the banks of the river Shirinsu in Tajikistan, where 1.5 thousand years ago, was the legendary city Kiropol, archaeologists along with gold bracteats (thin gold plates with the image of a human face) and jewelry from Badakhshan rubies found coral beads and raw coral branches.
These gemstones sea composed of calcite (88%) doped with magnesium compounds and organic iron compounds. Black coral from the gorgonian kind has black or brown skeleton of gorgonina – hornlike substance. Its colony have a tree, bushy or fan shape and can reach 3.5 m in height with a thickness at the base up to 25-30 cm. Patchy black coral fishery are the Mediterranean and Red seas, ocean coast of Sri Lanka and the islands of the Malay Archipelago. In hardness and strength, it is similar to pearls and ivory, products from it since ancient times were known in the East.
The palette of corals consists of up to 350 colors. Most often, they are white, but people have learned to dye them in different colors and use in jewelry. In Oceania there are eight lagoons full of “sun coral” which has cobalt blue color which gradually fades in sunlight. Precious Hawaiian “golden” Hexacorallia has the rare golden color. From it are made expensive necklaces, pendants, brooches and cabochon inserts for rings.
Color of coral depends on the content of organic matter, illumination and impurities trapped in the process of growth. Black coral coloration is due to the presence of the substance – conchiolin. There are also yellow, yellow-brown, the most rare – blue corals. It is worth noting that jewelers use corals of all shades – red and pink and black. Regarding the black coral, there is a great myth about their expensive cost. If an inexperienced trader happens to meet with an experienced Cuban, he will be happy to tell you about the amazing noble and valuable black coral. The truth is that the prices of the best varieties of red corals differ from the price of black, which is really cheaper.
In the seas and oceans live over 6,000 species of corals. In the equatorial zone of the Pacific and Indian oceans are composed many thousands of coral islands, atolls and reefs. One of them – the Great Barrier Reef, which stretches along the northeast coast of Australia in the Coral Sea more than 2,300 km., or the Barrier Reef with a total length of about 1,800 km. along the coast of New Caledonia in the Pacific. At the eastern coast of Australia was established the world’s first nature reserve of coral reefs. In its composition includes the stunning area of the underwater kingdom, as well as some areas of the Great Barrier Reef.
For the normal life of a coral colony typically need water of specific salinity – 27-40%, the optimum temperature – 18-32 ° C and a depth of not more than 200 m. Although some modern coral banks are thriving in deep and cold conditions of the seabed. Coral skeletons are in the form of branches, on which settle polyps. Some die, and in their place colonize new generations, which in turn give way “under the sun” to the following. It is found that the pink coral grows at a speed of approximately 75 mm per year.
In jewelry most often is used Corallium rubrum, growing at depths of 20 – 200 m, and Corallium japonicum, growing in the Atlantic and the Pacific, mostly at depths from 100 to 1500 m. “Noble” varieties include corals painted in pink, red, orange, pink and brown, also appreciated dark brown, blue, black corals (akabar). The most valuable is red coral, to which are often compared lips of beauties.
In the jewelry business is also used coral fossil. In Florida (USA) in the river bed near White Springs, and on the shore of beautiful Tampa Bay were found silicified corals of red, yellow and white colors, reaching 7-10 cm In diameter. The corals were used for creating original jewelry and souvenirs.
In the 13-18 centuries Russian masters widely used corals to decorate clothing. Thanks to the close consonance of words “coral” and “king” (koral – korol) in the old Russia the treated beads of red coral were called korolek. Almost forgotten now quite old Russian name of red coral – Dragon. According to Greek and Roman legends of dragons – the stone was found in the brain of certain dragons (possibly large reptiles or snakes). Clear information about why the so called red coral in Russia, has not survived, but the name is alive and can be found in a lot of sources.