Thursday, June 9, 2011

Rock Review: Red Coral

The lovely warm weather has everyone thinking about the beach. So it’s the perfect time to review Red Coral which is one of the loveliest and most treasured gems from our oceans. Coral is a biogenic gem, meaning it’s developed through a biological process. Some other familiar biogenic gemstones are Pearls, Amber and Ivory. Red Coral is a unique living creature, part polyp and part skeleton, that grows slowly over many years as a result of calcium carbonate deposited by marine invertebrates after they die. Carotenoid pigments account for its beautiful red to pink color.
Coral has been used as jewelry and decoration for many centuries not only for its vibrant color but also because of cultural beliefs in its magical and medicinal qualities. Greek, Roman, Native American and even a few ancient barbarian tribes, such as the Gauls used the gem for protection, healing and ceremonial rituals. The Romans used it on pendants worn by children as talisman to ward off sickness and other dangers. Coral can often still be seen in Native American and southwest jewelry design, often paired with Turquoise, ever since the Spanish introduced the material to native peoples in the eighteenth century through trade.
The ethical use of Coral has been a hot topic in recent years. Because of its “slow grow” process, harvesting Coral from the oceans in unregulated quantities has become unsustainable because the Coral cannot grow quickly enough to meet human demand for it. This leaves jewelers and jewelry lovers with a dilemma. Is it ok to use and wear Coral? How can this be done in an ethical way? Layne Designs believes that it is important to be good stewards of our natural resources and only uses ethically traded materials in all of our work. In the case of coral, this means that we use vintage coral harvested prior to 1970 in our jewelry. Reusing existing resources through repurposing is a clever and creative way to enjoy the beauty of Coral without endangering its future. Check out one of Layne’s showpiece necklaces in Red Coral below.

Fabulous Red Coral Necklace by Layne Designs! Price Upon Request

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