Coral, especially the red to pink type, has been used as an ornamental gemstone both in jewelry and intricate carvings. Strangely, the word “coral” does not have an established taxonomic meaning but is instead broadly used to define for any organism that grows while attached to the sea floor. In fact, gem coral is the skeletal remains of the coral polyps. It was also a confusing creature to early scientists because it possesses both animal and plant features, therefore its proper identification as an animal species was made in the 17th century, much later than many other known species. While the most known and popular types are red, black and golden coral are appreciated as even rarer types.
Historically, red coral comes from the Mediterranean Sea and has been known as precious coral in traditional jewelry trade. Italy has a particular position in the market for fishing and manufacturing red coral and has for centuries. The most exquisite examples found in jewelry are from this source. Today, Japan and China are also important manufacturers of red coral, as it is fished in Asian waters too. CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is dedicated to protecting animal and plant species survival as and when affected by international trade.
There are many legends surrounding this fiery stone. The Indians have given this red stone a great deal of importance. Its powder and even coral ash has the power to heal and is used in many Ayurvedic medicines. In Indian Astrology, wearing the stone as a ring or a bracelet or even as a necklace is said to ward of the negative influence of the Mangal graha (or the Planet Mars), which leads to weak constitution, high blood pressure etc. It is believed the wearer of the coral stone will be bestowed with physical and mental energy, increased lifespan, marital happiness and youth. Indian Astrologers believe that Yellow rays can regenerate cells of the body. The Coral has a very high number of Yellow rays (which are visible under a Prism) and thus, it can heal maladies of the flesh- rheumatism, genital problems and even mental disorders. Wearing a Mangal (Coral) stone is recommended if your astrological charts show a weak Mangal graha.
Even the Greeks have a legend about corals. It is believed that the stone gets it red color from the blood of the head of the slain, snake haired Medusa – who turned men into stone. The Romans wore it as an amulet around their necks during wars as protection. The Tibetans believe that deep red coral is a healing stone. Carved coral Buddha’s, Jewellery and prayer beads are highly valued and used even today. You may have heard about the Oracles in Greek mythology- the Oracle lived in a dark cave and foretold the future- specially at important events. Kings and Queens sought the decision of the Oracles, who used corals to forecast the future. Discovery of corals on ancient Crucifixes, statues, caskets and many other articles have proved that coral has enchanted man for millions of years.