I have a red coral pendant from my grandmother and would like to buy a pair of earrings to match. I have checked everywhere and no one seems to carry coral jewelry anymore. Is it just out of style?
Coral was once a popular organic gem which is formed by tiny animals called polyps. These polyps deposit layers of a limestone skeleton that slowly creates the underwater coral reefs. These coral reefs support 25% of all marine species. Corals growth rate is 0.2-2.0cm per year and takes 7-10 years to reach maturity, however, research shows that it should not be harvested until it is 98 years old in order to sustain a healthy
population. Issues like warming, pollution, fishing, tourism & over harvesting are just a few examples that make the environment for coral growth extremely vulnerable. Nearly 30% of the world’s tropical corals have been destroyed since the ‘80’s.
Some coral species (black & blues) are protected from human harvesting but the red & pinks are not. This has created a global exploitation that has made the Italian, French & Spanish coast no longer commercially viable. While it is still legal to harvest the reds & pinks, a group called SeaWeb has started a campaign to call on jewelers & designers to stop purchasing the gem. I recommend that you call your local antique stores or resale shops in order to locate the earrings. You will also be supporting the Sea Web’s campaign to help protect this precious gem by purchasing something that was pre-owned. The style of an older set of coral earrings will probably be a better match for your grandmothers’ pendant anyway.