SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION: CaCo3, or calcium carbonate in the form of
calcite, is the main constituent of calcareous corals; minor con-
stituents are MgCo3, or magnesium carbonate and proteinaceous organic
substances, which act as binding agents. At 2.5 to 4, the hardness is
slightly higher than that of calcite. The skeletons of corals vary in
color: from bright to dark red, slightly orange-red, pink and white.
ENVIRONMENT: In all cases, coral consists of the branching skeletons of
animals which live in colonies planted on the seabed at depths varying
from tens to hundreds of meters. They are typical of warmish to very
OCCURENCE: The most famous of these organisms is Corallium rubrum, which
lives in the waters of the Mediterranean and, despite its name,provides
not only red, but orange, pink, and white coral. Similar to this are
Corallium elatius, C. japonicum, and C. secundum, which maily live off
the coasts of Japan, China, Indochina, the Philippines, and other
archipelagos of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Coral colonies occupy
large areas especially in the Pacific, but also near the coast of South
Africa, in the Red Sea, and to the east of Australia. These latter
colonies, however, consist of madrepore, which has little in common with
the corals used as ornaments.
GEMSTONE INFORMATION: Most of the coral used since antiquity as an
ornamental material comes from the calcareous skeletons of colonies of
marine organisms of the phylum Cnidaria, order Corgonacea, genus
Corallium. Corals take a good polish. They also have a certain degree of
elasticity and can be heated and bent into bangles. Thin brancehes were
and still are polished, pierced, and threaded, unaltered, into neck-
laces. Larger pieces are cut into spherical or faceted necklace beads,
pear shapes for pendant jewelry, or cabochons. It is also used for
carved pieces and small figurines, in both oriental and western
art styles. The most highly prized varities of coral are those that are
a uniform, strong bright red.
NAME: The name is derived from the Latin [corallium,] related to the
LEGEND and LORE: The oldest known findings of red coral date from the
Mesopotamian civilization, i.e. from about 3000 BC. For centuries, this
was the coral par excellence, and at the time of Pliny the Elder it was
apparently much appreciated in India, even more than in Europe.Red coral
has traditionally been used as a protection from the “evil eye” and as
a cure for sterility. One of the Greek names for Coral was Gorgeia,
from the tradition that blood dripped from the Head of Medea, which
Perseus had deposited on some branches near the sea-shore; which blood,
becoming hard, was taken by the Sea Nymps, and planted in the sea. (8)
MAGICAL PROPERTIES: Coral is associated with Venus, Isis and Water. It
has been used as a form of protective magic for children for hundreds of
years. Cunningham recommends it as a luck-attractor for living
areas.Sailors use it as a protection from bad weather while at sea.
Red-orange coral is one of the four element gemstones of the Pueblo
Indians. It is one of the four colors used for the directions in the
Hopi/Zuni Road of Life. Coral is considered a representative of the warm
energy of the Sun, and the southern direction.
HEALING: Coral’s healing properties are mostly associated with Women,
young children and the elderly. For women it is said to increase
fertility and regulate menstration. For young children, it is recom-
mended to ease teething and to prevent epilepsy. For the elderly, it is
used as a cure for arthritis.
1. Scientific, Environment, Occurence and Name are from (or paraphrased
from) “Simon & Schuster’s Guide to Gems and Precious Stones”.
2. Precious and semi-precious gemstone information may come from
“Gemstones” by E. H. Rutland.
3. Other Precious and semi-precious gemstone information may come from
“Gem Cutting”, sec. ed., by John Sinkankas.
4. Legends and Lore, Magical Properties are from “Cunningham’s En-
cyclopedia of Crystal, Gem & Metal Magic”, by Scott Cunningham.
5. Some of the healing information may come from “Color and Crystals, A
Journey Through the Chakras” by Joy Gardner.
6. Some of the healing information may come from “A Journey Through the
Chakras” by Joy Gardner.
7. Some occult lore is from “The Occult and Curative Powers of Precious
Stones” by William T. Fernie, M.D.