Coral has been called the ‘garden of the sea’. It was believed to prevent ill fortune and offer protection from skin disease. Dreams about Coral are believed to foretell recovery from a long time illness. Ancient civilizations believed that Mars was composed of Red Coral. Coral is a good aid for meditation or visualization, as it symbolizes life and blood-force energy.
Red coral is the most valuable form of coral. The deeper the red, the more it is prized. Skeletons of coral vary in color; from bright to dark red, to slightly orange-red, to pink, black, blue, and white. Each variety of coral has a different amount of translucency. Red, pink, white, and blue (also known as Akori) varieties of coral consist of a substance similar to that of pearls, called calcium carbonate. Akori, or blue coral, is mostly used to make beads. Black coral (also known as Akabar) and golden coral are made out of a mineral called Conchiolin, an organic hornlike substance. Coral is relatively soft, rating only a 3 on the hardness scale, which makes it extremely easy to carve. In general, coral is dull at first, but when polished, it has a lovely vitreous luster. Coral is sensitive to acids and heat however, so its shine may fade with time.
There have been many beliefs throughout history as to the positive attributes of coral. It has always been thought to have the power to protect the wearer against evil and enchantments, as well as the power to cure madness. In the 16th century, many people thought a sprig of red or white coral could calm a raging tempest. The Romans believed that red Mediterranean coral had magical and medicinal properties and Roman children wore coral necklaces to protect them from danger and keep them healthy. Victorian babies from wealthy families had teething rings made of coral. And Native American artisans also created fine jewelry from coral.
Since the Mediterranean is now protected from Coral harvesting, the contemporary Coral we are familiar with is more than often dyed in order to mimic the beautiful natural colors of ancient Corals. You will find amazing color diversity in ancient Corals that you just can't find in modernly harvested selections.
Mosaic Coral is a way of making use of every little scrap of this precious material. Beginning with irregular shapes of Coral beads, they filled in the gaps and holes with a wax and pitch mixture called lakh and then inserted pieces of Coral in the same shade as the incomplete bead. After extensive polishing and finishing what's left is a beautifully unique composite Coral bead. While less expensive than regularly shaped beads, the primitive look of such Mosaic Coral is in some ways more interesting.