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The name coral however comes from the Greek 'korallion', which denotes the hard, calcareous skeleton of the coral animals, or from 'kura-halos', for 'mermaid', as the fine branches of the coral sometimes look like small figures. Coral is made up of skeletal remains of marine animals called coral polyps. These tiny creatures live in colonies which form branching structures as they grow, eventually forming coral reefs. Corals live at depths of between three and 300 metres in the waters around Japan, Taiwan and in the Malaysian Archipelago, in the Red Sea, in the Bay of Biscay and around the Canary Islands, as well as in north- east Australia and the Midway Islands. In the Mediterranean, there are coral banks in the Tyrrhenian Sea, off the coast of Sardinia, off Tunisia and Algeria, former Yugoslavia and Turkey. The surface of these coral branches has a distinctive patterning made by original skeleton, either striped or like wood grain. Most corals are made up of calcium carbonate.Dull at first, all corals have a vitreous luster when polished. Like the pearls, these are also organic jewelry materials. It certainly is an interesting fact that both of these are products of the water, chemically closely related with each other. Both consist of more than 90 per cent calcium carbonate. And it really is a miraculous thing that Nature has created both the scarlet coral and the pearl from the same, unprepossessing raw material. Corals are sensitive to heat and acids and may fade with wear.

Corals have a hardness of only 3.5 they are much softer than any other gemstone material. Their beauty can easily be impaired by the wrong treatment, for example cosmetics, hot water or bright light. Coral jewelry should be kept in a safe place and from time to timecleaned with a soft, damp towel. If the surface of the coral does get scratched, the jeweler can have it re-polished. Coral has been used for decorative purposes and esteemed as a protective stone since time immemorial. Even today, red corals are still worn as a talisman to protect the wearer against evil spirits in many cultures. Modern gemstone therapists too highly esteem its positive effects. Coral, it is said, relieves tension and fear and promotes positive forms of social life.


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