From Celtic times to the Piazzetta in Capri, coral is always the Made in Italy stone. Here, we talk about its meaning through four keywords: Curiosity, Costume, Character and Care
There are so many stories and legends surrounding coral, used by man since prehistoric times. Coral jewels have been found in Celtic tombs from the Iron Age, while a document signed by Arab geogra- pher al-Idrisi mentioned the beauty of coral from Trapani. Perhaps he had heard the Greek legend about Medusa’s (who was decapitated by Perseus) blood petrified seaweed, turning it red to be transformed into coral. Of course, He well known that, in Trapani, between the XV and XVI centuries, the Corporazione dei Pescatori della Marina Pic- cola del Palazzo (fisherman’s association) was formed. The fisherman lived in and around the street known as Via Corallari today. This is where true works of art, including sacred and profane objects, came to life. Some of these masterpieces can be seen today at the Museo Regionale Agostino Pepoli in Trapani, one of the most important of its kind in the world. At Torre del Greco, there is the Museo del Corallo and the Istituto Statale d’Arte Francesco Degni, founded by Royal Decree in 1878 as a school for working with coral.
When Bar Refaeli walked the red car- pet at Cannes in 2015, everyone commented on her earrings in angel-skin coral. It was an unusual choice because less ostentatious than large emeralds, diamonds or sapphires, but it was incredibly refined, in tone with the romantic look of the Israeli top model. But if we think of the glamorous allure of fine jewelry, Capri comes to mind, and the link to coral is just as direct. Jet setters still come to the island, won over by its beauty as well as by precious creations in the boutiques around the Piazzetta. This is exactly where, in June 2016, a three-day wedding celebrations took place for Giovanna Battaglia and Oscar Engelbert, that allowed guests to enjoy the atmospheres of the 1960s. This thanks as well to the bride’s outfits, who wore a pair of earrings with coral. White, of course.
The mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms come together in that strange life form known as coral. The “tree of the sea” has a hard skeleton made up of calcium carbonate and is formed by polyps that live in colonies deep in the abysses, up to about 200 meters in depth. Here they are well protected from the currents and the light of the sun. There are many variations in color, ranging from transparent white to light pink, all the way to the darkest reds and blacks. The Japanese variety is especially beautiful, with a “Misu” version with white-pink hues, and “Boke,” with a more intense pink color. “Satsuma” is a very intense red while “Aka” is one of the most famous dark red corals in the world because it is so rare and complicated to work with. The “Deep Sea” variety of Hawaii is known for its shades of pink and reds, while the “Midway” in the Pacific Ocean, offers delicate hues from white to pink to red nuances.
The Oceanographic Museum of Monte Carlo and the Università Federico II of Naples have come together with a single objective: sav- ing coral species in the Mediterranean Sea. The corallium rubrum fished off the coast of northern Sardinia near Alghero, and off of Sciacca near Agrigento, where it takes on orange hues like the coral found on the sea floors of Greece, Spain, France, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. The researchers are especially interested in challenging issues like traceability and blockchain technology, and they have managed to identify 100% of all precious species and geolocalize all sub-species of “our” coral. These initiatives have been promoted and carried out in collaboration with CIBJO, which created the Coral Commission in 2014 and a Coral Book in 2017 to keep the focus on the health of this stone.