There are many varieties of Coral, and all of them have a value that has changed over the years. Today the Coral that in absolute has a value higher than the others is the Aka …
There have been periods in which a type of coral known to all as “Angel skin” with a very delicate pink color, was considered of little value and not considered, while today it is the most valuable – and rare – that exists. Think that our great-grandparents called it “bokè” which in Japanese means stupid, meaningless.
When we speak of coral, we essentially think of red coral. Too many things – we have also seen it from mythology – make coral and red color a whole. Well, when we talk about red coral we speak of Mediterranean Coral, scientific name Corallium rubrum. Present throughout the Mediterranean, with particular concentrations in the seas of Sardinia, Sicily, Calabria, Campania, Lazio, Tuscany, Liguria. In some of these, over-exploitation and pollution later made it rare. In the rest of the Mediterranean we find it in Greece, Yugoslavia, Corsica, France, Spain, and then in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia.
Then there is the Japanese one, that of the Pacific …. But let’s see specifically the various qualities of existing Coral:
From the scientific name: Corallium Iaponicum. Identified and fished in Japan: from bright red to very dark red. It lives at a depth of 200/300 meters. Extremely vitreous, very defective. but the coral in which, when you finally manage to make a piece without imperfections, this is of a unique beauty. It is one of the most red (and expensive) corals in existence. Since, especially what we are fishing today, it is very defective, we can barely do cabochons. It is very difficult to obtain a necklace with spheres of the same color. When you succeed, we are faced with a masterpiece!
Angel Skin or Bokè
In the Pacific waters a type of Corallium elatius grows.
It is the Corallo Bokè, which in Italy we usually call the Coral “Pelle d’Angelo”
This nickname is given by the particularity of its color.
In fact, Corallo Pelle d’Angelo is very similar in quality to Corallo Satsuma but differs from it in its very intense and extraordinarily compact pink color.
Like Cerasuolo, Corallo Pelle d’Angelo is also caught in the coasts near Japan, at a depth of about 250-300 meters.
Identified between 1965 and 1979 and fished in different areas of the peaceful Midway (1965): white or pink, dotted or streaked with red. It lives at a depth of 300-400 meters; presents medium-sized fan-shaped tufts. Garnet (1970): very intense pink tending to yellow. It lives at a depth of 500-700 meters. It has flat and twisted branches and clumps similar to those of the Mediterranean coral. Miss (1976): pink tending to purple. It has a fan-shaped tuft and crushed branches between 5 and 10 mm thick.
Fished in Italy (Calabria, Campania, Lazio, Tuscany, Liguria, Sicily, Sardinia), Greece, Yugoslavia, Corsica, France, Spain, Morocco, it was the most worked coral in the 19th century. Of the species: Corallium Rubrum, it has a generally red color with shades tending to dark or bright red, very rarely can present a pale pink color. It is made up of tufts high on average 20-25 cm and wide from 10 to 15 cm. The diameter of the branches varies from 1 to 15mm. The weight of each head ranges from 100 to 150g, but it can reach 1500g with a height of 60cm. It is caught in the mentioned areas (some no longer productive) at depths ranging from 30 / 50m (usually of poor quality), up to over 150m.
Being compact in color, it is very suitable for the processing of smooth, that is to say necklaces, cabochons, drops, pendants etc.
Intensely fished between 1875 and 1887 in Sicily, about thirty miles from the coast of Sciacca at depths ranging from 150 to 200m. It has a salmon pink color, from intense to very pale, sometimes with yellow to brown and black spots due to the oxidizing action of some bacteria which, by attacking the ferrous components of the coral, cause browning. This coral lay massed in enormous quantities on a muddy bottom and appeared in long and tapered branches with an average thickness of about 7mm.
The coral of Sciacca was worked, about a century ago, to make balls, buttons, spools, canes.
Even today there is a little rough, jealously preserved in the chests of the oldest companies, which keep it as relics.
It was the most commonly used raw material for Italian production, especially practiced in Torre del Greco (Naples), between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. Of the species Corallium Japonicus, Elatius, Secundum, Kanojoi, the main colors and shades in which it can be present are: white (shiro), pinkish white; pale pink or ‘angel skin’ (boche); bright red or ‘cerasuolo’ (momo); dark red or ‘moro’ (aka); The color always has a white vein (soul) in the red corals, pink in the light ones. Fished at over 200 meters deep, it consists of clumps arranged on a single fan-shaped plane. The average height is 30-40 cm (except the cherry which can reach one meter) and the diameter of the branches is about 160 mm. Fishing locations: in Japan: Tosa Bay, Hachijo Island, Goto Island, Ogasawara Island; Formosa; Pescadores islands. Since very little is found, the use is nationalized to the maximum. Especially if they are cabochons for rings and earrings. The necklaces are exceptional. t the most precious coral ever.
DEEP Sea (1979)
Red color for small branches, with shades that tend to lighten as the branch thickens. The tufts are arranged in a fan or in parallel trunks, often crushed, of 50-70cm. It lives at a depth between 800 and 1500 meters.
It produces balls and cabochons with a beautiful pale pink color.
The tufts are large from 20 cm upwards. Like all the corals of the Pacific, the color homogeneity is lost as the branches grow larger. It is therefore impossible to have, beyond 10 mm, a small ball or a cabochon that is homogeneous in color. Being very vitreous, it often has cracks.
Another characteristic is that the polyps are present only on one side of the head. A sign that, given the depth and the strong currents, the polipini seek protection by hiding behind the branches of the colony of corals. It is used in all ways.
Identified and fished in different areas from Japan to the Philippines: from deep pink to bright red depending on the qualities. It lives at a depth of 200/300 meters; the Japanese tufts mostly have branches arranged in a fan shape. Their height is, on average, 30/40 cm, the width is mostly equal to the height. The weight of a head is proportionate to the size. On average, it is around 2/3 kg. It is rare to find any exceptional branch, 70/80 cm in height.
The color of Japanese corals is not compact, so it is not uncommon to find branches whose color starts from the basic red to reach white. Another peculiarity, present in all Japanese corals, is the fact that the whole head, from the base to the smallest peripheral branch, is covered by a white vein (which we call “soul”). This may seem like a flaw, but in reality it is an asset as it helps to recognize the authenticity and provenance of a coral.
It is extraordinarily suitable, due to its color and morphology, to be engraved.
All statues, flowers, etc. they are mostly made of this coral. Cabochons, buttons, almonds and drops are also very beautiful, which, given the very large size of the branches, can reach considerable dimensions. They can be recognized by the fact that they often have the characteristic white vein in the back.
The corals carry them all, rich and poor, lift those below, adorn those above.
Il mercante di coralli, J. Roth