What is Coral?
While most stones used in jewelry are mined from the earth, coral hails from the sea. Coral is formed by colonies of sea invertebrates. It is mostly skeletal calcium carbonate and is opaque to semi-translucent. Buyers should be aware that glass and plastic copies are sometimes substituted for coral, so take care to purchase only from reputable dealers.
Coral Ring Color
Coral’s hues work well year round, with the harvest colors of autumn styles as well as the dark clothes of winter and the cheerful shades of spring and summer. While most associate coral with orange, it can also be found in shades of pink, black, white and red. Angel-skin coral is whitish with hints of peach, while blood, or noble, coral, the most costly form, is deep red. Different shades of coral are found in different parts of the world. The black coral you see in the jewelry case probably came from Mexico or Hawaii, while the white forms grew in Japan and some of the best red coral originated in Italian waters.
Types of Coral Rings
Coral can be relatively inexpensive and is found in both fine and fun jewelry. Sterling silver coral rings are quite common and easily found in gift shops, department stores and online. Gold coral rings are less common, but also quite beautiful and easily found online. Coral is frequently paired with stones like turquoise, onyx or diamond.
Coral in rings is most often cabochon cut, or domed, but sometimes it is carved or left in its natural, uncut shape.
Coral comes in at a 3.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness. The Mohs scale is a tool used to rate the hardness of different gems with diamond, the hardest known natural substance, given a 10. At 3.5, coral is one of the softer gems.
Care of Coral Rings
Because coral is one of the softer gems, coral ring wearers should remove the ring before cleaning or taking part in sports that might knock the coral around, causing scratching or other damage. Also remove the coral ring before cleaning and subjecting it to harsh chemicals that could damage it. Acids found in common household items like vinegar can damage coral, so be sure to remove the coral ring when mixing a vinaigrette or using vinegar to remove scale from the sink.