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Coral on a vintage jewel

Coral on a vintage jewel

Coral, from antiquity to the present day

Coral has been known and used in jewelry and ornaments since Antiquity. In Ovid's Metamorphoses, its origin would be explained by the blood of Medusa decapitated by Perseus which would have frozen and transformed into coral on contact with algae. It then symbolizes blood and also becomes a talisman against witchcraft.

In the 19th century, it was particularly appreciated, including during the Art Nouveau period, as well as during Art Deco, where it was associated with ornamental stones such as onyx or lapis lazuli.

Contrary to the common idea that we have of a red coral, the coral can take different colors, white, pink, orange and even black. The “blood red” color is one of the most sought after.

Pendants in coral cameos

What is coral?

Coral is an organic material: it corresponds to the “exoskeleton” secreted by marine micro-organisms, the polyps. The degradation of their environment (these animals are particularly sensitive to the quality and temperature of the water), as well as overfishing, have endangered many of these reefs, the most important of which are today in Australia, in Florida, New Caledonia and Belize. 

Where does the coral on vintage jewelry come from?

During antiquity, fishing was practiced in the Mediterranean and this industry was very developed in Italy (notably in Torre del Greco, where the Liverino coral collection can be found since 1986, or in Sicily in Trapani) and in the south of France (Marseille, Cassis) in the 19th century. In the 20th century, Japan became an important supplier of coral.

Currently, coral is protected by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).


Discover the variety and beauty of our antique and vintage coral jewelry !

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