Rich, lustrous coral is beautiful set in silver!
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Coral is a natural organic gemstone. It is actually composed of the calcium rich skeletons of microscopic sea animals that live in "colonies". Over time, they build up layer after layer to form large pieces which can be cut or carved and then polished to a high luster.
Most coral comes from warm water climates like the Mediterranean. Coral is also found in the warm waters of the Caribbean and in the South Pacific.
The most valuable coral is a deep "oxblood" red color, but it is found in many shades including pink, white, and even black.
Many years of harvesting have depleted supplies of the best material, and the price has risen accordingly. Conservation is very important, and some reefs are now off limits to collecting.
There are now processes which make it possible to permanently dye unattractive gray coral a very desirable shade of red; this coral is OK for jewelry and looks great. Unless you are buying your coral jewelry from a reputable source, you should ask if the coral you are buying is natural or dyed. Dyed coral is inexpensive.
Coral Jewelry Care Tips
Coral ranges from a 2 1/2 - 4 on the Mohs hardness scale, so it can be easily scratched. Its color can be affected by absorbing impurities, so you should not wash dishes while wearing coral jewelry.
Coral can actually dissolve in some household cleaning chemicals. Although the process is slow, repeated exposure to these chemicals will ruin the lustrous appearance.
Jewelry containing coral should never be dipped or soaked in solutions that remove tarnish from silver or gold. Ultrasonic or steam cleaning is not recommended ... ever!
It is best to wash it in water with a light scrubbing using an old, soft toothbrush - no soap, just water. The jewelry can then be polished using a commercially available rouge cloth. The best coral care tip is to be gentle with it ...
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