Coral has been prized and desired in jewellery since the Roman era and until the discovery of coral in the South China Sea, the main source for coral was of the coast of Italy. Coral is found in a variety of colours and shades from white to red. The lighter shades come from shallow waters and the dark reds from deeper waters. Italian coral can be distinguished from the South China Sea coral by its uniformity of colour. The South China Sea coral has white flecks in the structure. Many intricate items were produced from coral and it has also been used as a medium for cameo work.
The most prized coral is the very dark red and so care has to be taken to ensure that the coral hasn’t been treated and dyed.
Today the harvesting of coral has been banned to protect the marine environment. This is a good thing and is fully supported by the Klepner’s team. However this doesn’t detract from the beauty of antique coral items.
As coral is an organic product it is soft and has to be treated with care. It is porous and will absorb oils and soaps which permanently damage the colour.