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How to Keep Coral in Good State

Coral is organic material basically consisting of calcium carbonate. It is subject to corrosion by chemical agents such as perfumes, soaps, some creams and, in the long run, also human sweat. So we recommend that you should:

  • rub your product with a dry or partially-wet cotton cloth, without using any kind of soap (some even suggest that the cloth be just wet with liquid wax)
  • carefully avoid direct contact with the above-mentioned substances; it is better to spray perfume on your body prior to wearing a coral jewel
  • keep your product away from heat sources, such as shop-window lights; exposition to intense heat can alter shades and even colours.

How to Clean or Polish Coral

Coral can be cleaned or polished in several ways. The only operation that can be carried out at home is rubbing it with a dry or partially-wet cotton cloth. In case you wish to clean it any more accurately, which would require some soap, it is better to use neutral detergents, such as washing-up liquid. However, we recommend that you should rinse the jewel right away, to avoid colour fading. So, for best results, operate as follows: a) soap the jewel, b) rub it with a sofá cotton cloth, c) rinse it immediately afterwards with running water, d) dry it accurately. Should the coral jewel not recover its natural colour and shades, bring it to qualified service assistants.

How to Assay Coral

There are various factors contributing to the price of coral; first of all, rarity and size (the larger the piece, the higher the price per gramme); another important factor is its origin, which is its typologically most distinctive feature. Other factors contributing to its specific value are its pores, veins and vortices. These three factors actually contribute to lowering its price. The last factor influencing the value of coral positively or negatively is the carving, which can be precious or defective. In the case of cameos or sculpures carved from raw coral, the artist's hand can bring the product a considerable additional value. .


Owing to obvious environmental reasons, at present, coral fishing is subject to specific regulations. Few fishermen in Italy have coral fishing permits. Corals are collected manually, one branch at a time. Only larger branches are collected, and the rest of them are let grow. The town of Torre del Greco continues its coral processing tradition with the same tenaciousness as has enabled it to resurge from nine Vesuvius eruptions. Coral carving in Torre del Greco has been going on for two centuries. Earlier on, the Torre del Greco people's main activities were fishing and commerce. A large Latin sail boat called Corallina was used for coral fishing. This sailboat used to pull a large wooden equal-armed cross and a stone ballast; the cross was called Saint Andrew's Cross or engine, i.e. "tool") and had old hemp nets attached to it, which were used to detach coral branches while retaining those branches that the cross had managed to tear off. The sailboat chief was able to perceive the presence of a coral bank by the jolting of a rope that had caught on it. This method, however, was not very effective, as the coral collected was too little compared to all the coral that the cross had managed to tear off. During that time, though, it was the only system through which coral could be collected even at a depth of 150 metres. A similar system was used in China and Japan as well, the only difference being a stone and nets in lieu of the cross.

Material - WHAT ARE CORALS? - A brief introduction to the origins of coral

Coral comes from colonial celenterates consisting of polyps which build a protective and securing calcium carbonate skeleton as they grow. There are two kinds of polyps, with six tentacles and with eight tentacles. The latter are used in jewellery; the former, which are also called hexacorals and can be found in reefs, are too soft to be used in jewellery. Corals used for carving are essentially collected from the Japanese and Mediterrranean Seas. Their most common color is red, and its shades up to white are commercially distinguished as follows: maroon, red, pink, angel skin and white.

Mediterranean Coral

Collected off the coasts of Italy (Calabria, Campania, Latium, Tuscany, Liguria, Sicily, Sardinia), Greece, Yugoslavia, Corsica, France, Spain, Morocco, it was the most carved coral in the 19th century. Of the Corallium Rubrum species, it is generally red with dark or scarlet shades. Very rarely can it be light pink. It consists of trunks of an average height of 20-25cm and a width of 10-15cm. The diametre of the branches ranges from 1mm to 15mm. The weight of each trunk ranges from 100-150g to 1.5kg, as is the case with 60cm-tall pieces. Mediterranean Coral can be found at depths ranging from 30/50m (of usually low quality) to even over 150m. Some of the above-mentioned Mediterranean zones are no longer productive.

Sciacca Coral

It used to be collected on an intensive basis from 1875 to 1887 in Sicily, approximately 30 miles off the coast of Sciacca (in the Agrigento area), at depths ranging from 150m to 200m. It has a salmon pink shade, from intense to light, at times with yellow spots shifting towards dark or even black, owing to the oxidating action of some bacteria which attack the ferrous components of coral and burnish it. This coral used to lie heaped in conspicuous quantities on muddish sea bottoms and had wide fuse-shaped branches approximately 7mm in breadth.

Japanese Coral

It was the most used raw material for Italian production. It was mainly produced in Torre del Greco (in the Naples area) from late 19th to early 20th century. Of the Corallium Japonicus, Elatius, Secundum, Kanojoi species, its main colours and shades are white (shiro), pinkish white, light pink or angel skin (bochè), scarlet red or cerise (momo); dark red or 'maroon' (aka); a white vein is always present in red corals, a pink vein in light corals. It is collected at a depth of over 200m and consists of trunks set to form a handheld fan on a single plain. Its average height is 30-40cm (except cerise coral which can be one metre high) and its branches are approximately 160mm in diametre. It is collected off the coast of Tosa Bay, the Island of Hachijo, the Isle of Goto, the Isle of Ogasawara in Japan, and the Pescadores Islands in Thaiwan.

Pacific Corals

They were discovered in various parts of the Pacific Ocean between 1965 and 1979 and collected since then. Midway (1965): white or pink with red dots or stripes. It is found at a depth of 300-400m. It consists of médium-size trunks set to form a handheld fan. Garnet (1970): very intense pink shifting towards yellow. It is found at a depth of 500-700 metres. It consists of flat branches and trunks similar to those of Mediterranean coral. Miss (1976): pink shifting towards violet. It has handheld-fan-set trunks and flat 5-10mm-wide branches. DEEP Sea (1979): it has small red branches which go lighter as they grow in width. Its trunks, generally flat and 50-70cm-wide, are set side by side or so as to form a handheld fan. It is found at a depth of 800-1500 metres.



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