How To Identify Coral Gemstones?

How To Identify Coral Gemstones?

Coral or moonga ratan in Hindi is associated with the massive planet Mars. The color of moonga or coral is vermilion or light red. The coral gemstone is not a mineral, but it is being produced by animals of the sea. Therefore, it is called the gift of the sea to humankind.

The coral gemstone is included in the team of the navratnas due to its fascinating color and extreme luster. The genesis of this stone is acknowledged to be floral.

But, this stone is also found under the deep sea similar to pearl stone which is also an organic gemstone. The coral stone is developed over branches of coral which look identical to the branches of the wood plant.

The coral originates because of the presence of a sea animal, coral or moonga which appear tenacious in appearance. This animal is found close to submerged sea rocks. Gradually, this animal gathers hard material calcium carbonate and stores it in a beehive shape place.

Thereafter, the animal stores calcium carbonate in this beehive shape place for over the years and finally coral are being produced. This overall process takes several years to form a coral stone. However, in a market flooded with imitations and synthetics, identifying genuine coral gemstones can be challenging. In this detailed guide, we will delve into the world of coral gemstones, exploring their types, characteristics, and proven methods for distinguishing real coral from its impostors.

Understanding Coral Gemstones:

Before diving into the identification process, it’s essential to understand the nature and origins of coral gemstones. Coral is a marine organism that belongs to the class Anthozoa, comprising thousands of individual polyps. These polyps secrete calcium carbonate to form skeletal structures, which over time accumulate and create coral reefs. When these structures are harvested and polished, they become the beautiful gemstones we know as coral.

Types of Coral Gemstones:

Coral gemstones come in various colors and types, each with its own unique characteristics and origins. Here are some of the most common types:

Red Coral (Corallium rubrum): Red coral, also known as precious coral, is perhaps the most sought-after variety. It is prized for its deep red or pinkish-red color and is primarily found in the Mediterranean Sea, particularly off the coasts of Italy, Greece, and Spain. Red coral is associated with vitality, passion, and protection, making it highly desirable in jewelry.

Pink Coral (Corallium japonicum): Pink coral, often referred to as angel skin coral, exhibits a delicate pink hue reminiscent of a heavenly glow. It is primarily found in the waters of Japan and Taiwan and is valued for its soft, feminine appearance. Pink coral is commonly used in vintage and antique jewelry designs, adding a touch of elegance and charm.

White Coral (Corallium japonicum): White coral, also known as ivory coral, is characterized by its creamy white color and smooth texture. Like pink coral, it is found in the waters of Japan and Taiwan and is prized for its understated elegance. White coral is versatile and pairs well with various metals and gemstones, making it a popular choice for contemporary jewelry designs.

Blue Coral (Heliopora coerulea): Blue coral is a rare and exotic variety known for its striking blue coloration. Unlike other types of coral, blue coral is not formed by coral polyps but by blue algae. It is found in the Indo-Pacific region, particularly in the waters of Australia and Indonesia. Blue coral is prized for its vibrant hue and unique appearance, making it a coveted addition to any jewelry collection.

Black Coral (Antipatharia): Black coral is one of the rarest and most valuable types of coral gemstones. It is prized for its deep black color and is primarily found in deep-sea environments, such as the waters surrounding Hawaii and the Caribbean. Black coral is highly sought after for its beauty and rarity, but it is also subject to strict conservation measures due to overharvesting.

Identifying Genuine Coral Gemstones:

Now that we’ve covered the different types of coral gemstones let’s explore how to identify genuine coral from imitations and synthetics. Here are some key characteristics to look for:

Color:

Genuine coral gemstones exhibit rich, vibrant hues that are often uneven or mottled in appearance. For example, red coral may display shades of red, pink, and orange, while pink coral may have hints of peach or salmon. Be wary of coral that appears too uniform in color or lacks depth and variation.

Texture:

Authentic coral gemstones have a distinct texture that is smooth to the touch but may feature natural imperfections such as pits, grooves, or irregularities. These imperfections are a hallmark of genuine coral and are not typically found in synthetic or imitation materials.

Hardness:

Coral gemstones are relatively soft compared to other gemstones, with a hardness ranging from 3 to 4 on the Mohs scale. As a result, genuine coral can be easily scratched with a fingernail or sharp object. If a gemstone claiming to be coral is resistant to scratching, it is likely a synthetic or imitation material.

Grain:

When viewed under magnification, genuine coral gemstones exhibit a distinctive grain pattern resembling tiny lines or grooves. This grain is formed by the growth of coral polyps and is a reliable indicator of authenticity. Synthetic and imitation corals may lack this natural grain pattern or display a uniform, artificial texture.

Weight:

Coral gemstones are relatively lightweight compared to other gemstones of similar size. If a coral gemstone feels unusually heavy or dense, it may be a sign that it is composed of synthetic or imitation materials.

Temperature:

Genuine coral gemstones have a unique property known as thermochromism, which causes them to change color in response to changes in temperature. You can test this by gently warming the gemstone with your hands or breath and observing any color changes that occur.

Identifying genuine coral gemstones requires a combination of knowledge, observation, and testing. By familiarizing yourself with the characteristics of authentic coral and employing proven identification methods, you can confidently distinguish real coral from its imitations and synthetics. Whether you’re a collector, jeweler, or admirer of natural beauty, understanding how to identify coral gemstones is essential for making informed purchasing decisions and appreciating these exquisite treasures for generations to come. So, the next time you encounter a coral gemstone, take a closer look and marvel at the wonders of nature’s artistry that lie within its delicate structure.

Read Also: How to Wear Coral Gemstone

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What are the most common types of coral gemstones?

The most common types of coral gemstones include red coral (Corallium rubrum), pink coral (Corallium japonicum), white coral (Corallium japonicum), blue coral (Heliopora coerulea), and black coral (Antipatharia).

  • How can I distinguish genuine coral from imitations?

Genuine coral gemstones have certain characteristics such as rich, vibrant colors with natural variations, a distinct texture with imperfections, relatively soft hardness (3-4 on the Mohs scale), a visible grain pattern under magnification, lightweight compared to other gemstones, and a unique property known as thermochromism.

  • What are some common imitations of coral gemstones?

Common imitations of coral gemstones include dyed shells, plastic, glass, ceramic, and synthetic materials made to mimic the appearance of natural coral.

  • Where can I find genuine coral gemstones?

Genuine coral gemstones are typically found in jewelry stores specializing in gemstones and fine jewelry. They may also be available from reputable online retailers or at gem and jewelry shows.

  • How should I care for and clean coral gemstone jewelry?

To care for coral gemstone jewelry, avoid exposing it to harsh chemicals, extreme temperatures, or prolonged sunlight, as these can cause damage or discoloration. Clean coral jewelry gently with a soft, damp cloth and store it separately from other jewelry to prevent scratches and damage. 

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