Bloody Corals !

28th January 2019

Flaming reddish orange, this historical and mysterious gemstone hides many secrets in the sea depth. Mostly fished in the West and North Pacific Ocean as well as the Mediterranean Sea (especially in Sardinia), the red coral can grow up to 300m below sea level. This organic stone, originally appears as exoskeleton branches, having an amorphous shape; it can be either porous or solid depending on its calcium formation. Furthermore, it is naturally dull and matt this is why polishing is needed in order to create a shiny and smooth surface for jewels. Because of its low hardness level (3-4 on Mohs Scale), the stone is subject to scratches and requires special care to be well maintained.

Madonna Casini by Masacchio, 1426 Coral.
Medusa Brooch Coral
coral natural.jpg

1. Madonna Casini by Masacchio, 1420s'. Coral Cross Necklace.

2. Medusa Brooch, Carved Coral.

3.Natural Red Coral.

Red Coral Natural

Natural Red Coral

The use of Corallium Rubrum goes back up to thousands of years BC and can be seen in ancestral jewels as well as in decorative objects. It also has a key role in sea legends: Red coral is famous for being born from the blood of the Greek mythical character, Medusa. From this story, the gemstone is known for its healing power and for bringing luck to who wears it (and believes in it!).

In jewellery, we mainly consider the Precious Corals, which cover the light and strong pink, orange and red corals’ colors. These are the rarest and most sought after gemstones, while the white and black corals are rather common and unused.  
The cabochon or beads are the most usual shape for coral. However, we will see in the following examples that jewellers also carve and sculpt this organic gemstone giving it all kind of forms. Below, Cartier, David Webb and Van Cleef & Arpels show great example of coral jewels. 

Cartier dedicates a complete fine jewellery collection to this burning organic stone. Inspired by Art Déco and Egyptian styles, the Calame jewels are made of coral from Sardinia, 100% natural and ethically fished. No coral beads have the same color tune, as these are unique and non-treated stones. The bright orange colors perfectly match with the pink gold mounting, and vibrate through diamonds and black onyxes. The following jewels show an interesting contrast of colors, textures and brilliance, which are amplified by the architectural lines, geometrical forms and perfect symmetry.

The collection offers 3 types of necklaces, 1 ring, 2 types of bracelets and 1 pair of earrings.

Calame, Cartier Fine Jewellery Collection, 2018. Coral, Onyx, Diamonds and Yellow Gold.

Futhermore, Cartier is a recurrent coral jeweler, in its previous High Jewellery Collections, the following outstanding creations have been under the spotlight. As we can notice, Cartier most often associates coral with onyx and emeralds in order to create a color and texture balance. 

Cartier High Jewellery Collections. Legends on image.

The extravagant Art Déco jeweler, David Webb, is internationally renowned for his eye for details, combination of bright colors and big volume creations. His jewels are mainly inspired by exotic animals, nature’s curiosities and fantastic world, such as seashells, frogs and dragons. His high skills in crafts allows him to modulate coral into spectacular pieces. In fact, red coral is a key stone for lots of his designs, which give us the pleasure to discover new shapes: Each of these 6 bracelets present an important pieces of carved orange coral that where sculpted with extreme precision. The bracelets are made of yellow gold, diamonds and emeralds, which contrast perfectly with the bright coral.

Horse Coral Bangle David Webb
Bull Coral Bangle David Webb
Dragon Coral Bangle David Webb
Monkey Coral Bangle David Webb
Snake Coral Bangle David Webb
Lion Coral Bangle David Webb

Horse, Bull, Monkey, Dragon, Snake & Lion Bangle. Carved Red Coral, Diamonds, Emeralds and Yellow Gold, 1960s'. 

Van Cleef & Arpels, the enchanting high jewellery brand, is also using corals to tell its fairytale. In its creations, corals appear in different esthetic, with various shapes and volumes. Through Van Cleef & Arpels' imagination, coral also expresses its colours’ variation: ivory, pink, orange and red. Wings, petals and buds are represented by slices, beads and carvings, that bring to life the splendid creations.

Piou Piou Brooch, Peau d'Ane, Van Cleef & Arpels
Paperdolls Flowers Rose de Noel Brooch, Van Cleef & Arpels
Flamant, Seven Seas, Van Cleef & Arpels, 2015
Paperdolls Flowers Rose de Noel Set, Van Cleef & Arpels
Horse, Arche de Noé, Van Cleef & Arpels, 2016
Parrots, Arche de Noé, Van Cleef & Arpels, 2016
Paperdolls Flowers Rose de Noel Brooch, Van Cleef & Arpels

Van Cleef & Arpels Creations: from left to right: 

1. Piou Piou Brooch, Peau d'Ane Collection, 2014.
2. Flamant, Seven Seas Collection, 2015.

3. Paperdolls Flowers Rose de Noel Necklace & Earrings, 1970s'.

4. Paperdolls Flowers Rose de Noel Brooch, 1970s'.

5. Flying Horse Brooch, Arche de Noé Collection, 2016.

6. Parrots Brooch, Arche de Noé Collection, 2016.

7. Paperdolls Flowers Rose de Noel Brooch, 1970s'.