Apprising old red coral

Good Day

I have inherited 23grams of red coral that comes from an old
rockshop. The package was labeled "Coral Red - Red Sea - 1964 23g"
Consisting of 5 branches 2 to 3 inches in length with at least two
some have three branches on them.

I have been a scuba instructor for over 25 years and have seen
almost every coral out there, but they have all been living,
including red coral (viewed it in a cave mouth off of Italy 15 years
ago) - though I have an 8inch branch- fan of blue gorgonian soft
coral - great colour. Found it on a beach after a storm. So - how do
i tell if its real red coral. I have sawed one branch at a branch
junction and its red all they way through, which indicates to me no
dye. No dark spots in pits- consistent color (as coral goes), some
have their membrane still on then and sea detris that is the
original foot. They are dense and glassy sounding when tapped
together gently.

I understand that Red Coral is extinct basically. And my attitude to
ripping stuff off the sea bottom has always been " MEET MY FRIEND
THE “friendly” 15 FOOT MORREY EEL HE LOOKS HUNGRY - Don’t worry he
doesn’t bite".

So using it, if its real has some issues for me as a diver, but as a
new jeweler I am not sure what is PC? what is it worth? Do we
jewelers us it? Will people freak (customers and other Jewelers) if
I us it? Do I even want it?

Tim J

Hi Tim,

Even though it may not be politically correct I have always loved
coral jewelry (at least some styles of it). Maui Divers is a well
known maker of Hawaiian coral jewelry. I have always been sadden by
the loss of a black coral ring I bought many years ago of theirs
while on vacation in HI (style no longer available…sigh; I think
my ring ended up in the garbage can). But if you go to their website
( you can do a search and compare the difference
in cost between something made in the different kind/color of coral
and that may help you in knowing what it is worth. I don’t know
about other jewelers but Maui Divers is known for its uses of coral.
I can understand your feelings about the taking of coral now…but
since you inherited it and it was harvested so long ago it seems a
shame to just have it sit there or throw it away.

Terry Binnion
General Manager
James Binnion Metal Arts

Tim…you have a treasure!!!

If it is from the red sea it is probably corallium rubrum which is,
indeed, very hard to come by. Red coral is not ‘extinct’…but over
harvesting has depleted stocks both in the Med and in the Pacific. In
the 70’s I used to see whole boatloads come into Taiwan harbors which
were snatched up by the Italian buyers (if not the Taiwan carvers). I
stillhave several small trees of the angle skin (delicate orange).
Recently I needed to replace a piece for a client and was in
communication with a gentleman in Italy who has some Sardinia red
coral that looks pretty good. He wants EURO 10 a gram!

Cheers from Don at the Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry!

Currently red coral, or dyed coral is popular. an ounce or close to
it as you have is probably worth about 30-40 dollars US, no real
fortune there! Being from the Red Sea and collected before any
moratoriums were even considered makes it legal- if not perfectly
all right to use in designs and perhaps a point of sale for someone
interested in the components of a piece of jewelry …As far as being
PC…art is art is art - Political correctness is a moot point when
you are creating something…particularly using common materials.If a
customer likes what you design great- if not that person won’t buy
it and another may… Quite a straightforward proposition. Don’t worry
about what others think -design what you conceptualize and if your
jewelry making is done for all or part of your livelihood what you
think may sell well in your market to your target clientele! Just
stay away from using “new” ivory,eagle feathers, and other clearly/
known-to-be protected flora and fauna if you intend to sell your
designs! rer

Several years ago, we saw red coral selling from 100 to 500 an oz in
Indian Jewelry Supply in Albuquerque. If it is the real thing, it is
very valuable since it has illegal to dive for it for some years

If it is from the red sea it is probably corallium rubrum which
is, indeed, very hard to come by. Red coral is not 'extinct'....but

I’ve stayed out of this because I’m no longer in touch with the coral
business - was a time I was, somewhat. Also because there is coral,
and there is coral, and an appraisal can’t be done by email. Don
mentions the orange angelskin - fine pieces of that can get up in
price pretty high. If you have a big, old branch that was before
stocks got thin, and if it is the finest red and if it’s the finest
quality, a big cab of it could easily fetch the mid-4 figures. But
that’s lots of if’s. It’s definitely into some hundreds if it’s of
any quality, and it’s large, as you say. I believe coral that’s dyed
is done after cutting, though I could be wrong. That would indicate
that your branch is likely natural, though. Also, there are many,
many dealers who’ll take it off your hands in a heartbeat, if it’s at
all nice material.

I have no knowledge of the value of red coral, but reading this
latest subject line has jogged my memory. Twenty years ago at an
auction, I purchased the contents of a small lapidary company
workshop that had ceased trading after 100 years. At the time I was
only interested in their small machinery which was a slab saw, a
trim saw and a cabbing machine, but along with my purchases came some
crates of uncut mineral stock, among these was a box of red and pink
coral pieces, the box is about 1 foot cubed and is nearly full of
coral pieces perhaps they have some value now. The lapidary company
had specialised in the manufacture of watch and clock dials, cut
from various minerals, corals and mother of pearls as I also have a
crate of large shells where discs of mother of pearl have been cut
out. I also think there are some blocks of Lapiz Lazuli and other
stones. These crates have been in storage for the past twenty years
perhaps I ought to check them out and see if there are any other
treasures hidden within the boxes.

Peace and good health to all
James miller FIPG.

Maui Divers is a well-known maker of Hawaiian coral jewelry. But
if you go to their website ( Maui Divers is
known for its uses of coral. 

I work for Maui Divers and can promise you that all of our coral is
scrupulously and legally harvested. Black coral cannot be dredged
for. The divers are required by law to go down, measure the size of
the coral and harvest by hand. They are not allowed to drag rakes or
cages, break up the coral beds or damage small trees. Gold, red and
pink corals grow in Hawaiian waters, but they grow in very deep
waters, requiring the use of a minisub with robotic arms. I am not
certain about the current status of gold coral these days. There was
and maybe continues to be a moratorium on its harvesting. In any
event, we are near to depleting our existing stock of gold coral.

Donna Shimazu

PS When I said “In any event, we are near to depleting our existing
stock of gold coral.”, I meant our inventory of gold coral at Maui
Divers, NOT the gold coral beds of Hawaii. As far as I know, those
extremely deep sea gold coral beds continue to grow unmolested, out
of the reach of divers.