Native American Jewelry Materials – Coral

Could you please tell me the meaning of the red bracelet?

Does it symbolize protection? Lorry

Coral, Red Coral (also called Red Branch Coral)

Coral Bracelet by Navajo artist Eugene Hale

Coral Bracelet by Navajo artist Eugene Hale

Red Coral is the common name given to Corallium Rubrum and several related species of marine coral. The distinguishing characteristic of precious corals is their durable and intensely colored red skeleton, which is used for making jewelry. Other names for Red Coral are Precious Coral, Ox Blood Coral, and Fire Coral.

Red coral is a collection of hundreds of tiny animals living together in a colonies that resemble small leafless bushes growing on dark, rocky sea bottoms. The arms of red coral, like other branching corals, wave in the tides and currents to collect microscopic plankton upon which they feed.

The original species is found mainly in the Mediterranean Sea, while other species are native to the western Pacific, around Japan and Taiwan. Most of the deep red coral is Italian Coral.

The coral skeleton is composed hard calcium carbonate, colored in shades of red from pale pink to deep red. It can be semi-translucent to opaque. It is naturally matte, but can be polished to a glassy shine. Red coral is frequently dyed to enhance color and it can also be impregnated with resins or epoxies to fill surface fissures and flaws. Reconstituted coral is made from natural solid material, or coral fragments that have been pulverized into a powder, soaked in binding agents, then pressed into a solid mass to be re-cut.

Coral jewelry has been found in ancient Egyptian and prehistoric European burials. The Romans believed coral could protect children from harm, as well as cure bites from snakes and scorpions and diagnose diseases. Coral is the color of blood, the life force which protects from illness.

Coral bracelet by Navajo artist Wallace Yazzie Jr.

Coral bracelet by Navajo artist Wallace Yazzie Jr.

9 thoughts on “Native American Jewelry Materials – Coral

  1. Pingback: Native American Jewelry Materials – Coral History « Native American Jewelry Tips

  2. Pingback: Native American Materials – Spiny Oyster « Native American Jewelry Tips

  3. How does one tell the difference between dyed red coral and red or dyed red spiny oyster in more recent (the past 20 years) Native American jewelry ?

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