It’s official: Pantone’s 2019 Color of the Year is “Living Coral”. In their words: “Living Coral embraces us with warmth and nourishment to provide comfort and buoyancy in our continually shifting environment.” We love coral for its many variations and how beautiful it looks set into jewelry. Not only is coral flattering to every skin tone, it pairs perfectly with classic yellow gold, which brings out its warmth and richness.
Precious coral is gemstone grade coral, related to the reef-building “stony” coral most people are familiar with. It is formed by living polyps in saltwater. When the polyps dies, the coral skeleton is what is harvested and cut into gems. This organic formation gives the coral a unique identifier that is visible even when polished into a cabochon. Look closely at coral and you will see a grain, not unlike woodgrain, running along the gem. This is a clue that the coral is natural and not a glass imitation.
The vertical grain of the coral is visible even when polished into a cabochon.
Coral is rather soft compared to other gems, ranging 3 to 4 on the Mohs hardness scale. However, it’s ability to be polished into sleek cabochons makes it highly desirable for use in jewelry. Coral forms in a variety of colors, including red, pink, gold, black, and blue. However only the pink to red varieties are typically used in jewelry, as the rarer colors are strictly regulated. A whitish pink to salmon colored coral is known as “angel skin”, because its milky hue is so ethereal compared to other shades. Besides cabochons, coral is also used in its branch form, often used as beads on necklaces and bracelets.
Coral has been used since ancient times for protection against danger and evil. Everyone from the Ancient Egyptians, to the Gauls, to the Pueblo and Zuni tribes of America have used coral as sacred ornamentation. Red coral is associated with the planet Mars, as well as the zodiac signs of Pisces, Scorpio, Capricorn, and Taurus. In metaphysical practices, coral is used to reduce stress, foolishness, and anxiety, and amplify the positive qualities of success, wisdom, and wealth. Whether you wear coral for its metaphysical properties, or simply as a fashion statement, there’s no denying it makes excellent jewelry! Click here to shop Market Square Jewelers’ vintage and antique coral jewelry collection.