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Black coral


#1

This follows up a previous post I made on black coral. I omitted to
mention that the bendable black coral is not the Hawaiian deep water
black coral that I am most familiar with. It is the stuff from
shallower waters, like that sold in craft markets in Indonesia. A
colleague of mine recently came back from a vacation in Bali where
she saw and purchased some bent black coral bracelets. The bracelets
were made of thin branch material and the smaller offshoot branches
were bent into little curls and swirls around the main stem.

The company I work for buys pounds and pounds of black coral trees.
It’s sold to us by licensed divers in bundles, including encrusted
oyster shells, ocean floor rock. It’s not completely dry (automatic
water weight loss) so you have to be very knowledgeable of judging
how much usable material vs drek and scrap you’ll have when the
material is cured/dried enough for cutting. Besides the obvious drek
material (rocks, shell encrustations), you have to deal with the
thin, unusable tips (useless weight), poor formations(too much
branching and “burling”, ungraceful curves and branching, grooving,
twisting, voids between growth rings, poor graining) and not enough
quality thick pieces.

Even with managed cutting, there is a lot of waste involved. We use
the thin branch material to make “log” beads, diagonal slice beads,
regular round beads, inlays and small cabochons. “y” and “v” branch
pieces are used in brooches and pendants. The best large pieces are
split and cut into large cabochons or carvings. Some of the nice but
smaller branch portions that aren’t usable for jewelry applications
are mounted as display specimens.

Apologies for the previous inaccuracies.

Donna Shimazu
Hawaii