Used for adornment since prehistoric times, coral inlays and ornaments have been found in Celtic tombs from the Iron Age. An organic gemstone from the sea, coral was believed to bestow wisdom, protect from evil, heal wounds and calm the soul. A semi-translucent to opaque gemstone, coral is formed from a colony of marine invertebrates and primarily made of calcium carbonate.
White is the most common color in coral, but a variety of other shades can be found, including pink, orange, red and black. The rarest color is a deep red.
Coral is commonly enhanced to improve its color and durability. White coral is bleached. Pink coral is permeated with a colorless wax and orange coral is stabilized with plastic. Black coral is sometimes bleached to create gold coral. Occasionally, red coral is dyed to deepen or uniform its color. All commonly used forms of coral enhancement are stable.
Special care is required for coral regardless of whether or not it is enhanced. A soft and porous gemstone, coral scratches and abrades easily and chlorine, alcohol, ammonia, nail polish remover and other chemicals can damage it. Remove coral rings when washing and moisturizing your hands. Avoid exposing your coral to extreme temperatures.