Life,  Tech

Unveiling the Mystique of Red Coral: From Ancient Gemstone to Modern Treasure

  Coral is one of the oldest marine organisms on earth, with a history of nearly 500 million years. Corals look like plants from the outside, but from a biological point of view, corals are a type of marine cylindrical coelenterate called “coral polyps”. Red coral is known as the only living spiritual creature in jewelry for thousands of years. It is charming, lustrous, crystal clear, warm and pleasant, and has won the love of many collectors.
  The unique connotation of the great beauty of “red”
  Coral, the English name is Coral, comes from Greek, meaning “bright colored stone”. Red coral is a type of coral. As the name suggests, red coral refers to red coral. There are many names of red corals on the market. They are called by their scientific names, such as Mediterranean red coral, Japanese red coral, elongated red coral, etc.; depending on the species, they are commonly known as deep-water coral, momo coral, sardine coral, akka coral, etc., among which , Aka coral is the most valuable.
  Red coral is one of the earliest gemstones recognized and utilized by people. Throughout history at home and abroad, red coral has a lofty status and a long history and culture. According to the latest records, the Sumerians were using red coral to make jewelry in 3000 BC, and red coral amulets were found in Neolithic tombs in Switzerland.
  The famous ancient Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder mentioned red coral many times in “Natural History”. The ancient Romans believed that red coral had the function of preventing disasters and giving wisdom, so they often hung red coral branches around children’s necks to pray for peace. The Romans called it “red gold”, which cast a mysterious layer on red coral. color.
  The Indians believed that “precious coral is the mother of the earth.” Ancient Gallic soldiers decorated their armor, shirts and weapons with red coral to pray for good luck and the protection of the God of War. Red coral is also the national stone of Italy, Algeria and other countries, symbolizing composure, bravery and courage.
  Our country’s folk have regarded red coral as a treasure since ancient times, and we are the first country to develop and use red coral. As early as before the Qin Dynasty, red coral had been widely popular as furnishings and decorations. “The Classic of Mountains and Seas” contains records of people organizing together to salvage red corals. The book describes in detail the regret of not being able to salvage the entire red coral. At that time, red corals were mainly used for furnishings and decorations.
  In the Qing Dynasty, red coral was regarded as a treasure by the royal family. The clothing system stipulated that many accessories must be made of red coral. For example, the emperor must wear red coral beads during the pilgrimage ceremony, and the second-rank civil and military ministers and auxiliary generals must wear red coral court crowns. , Jifu crowns are all made of red coral, which shows the important position of red coral in our country’s traditional history and culture.
  Animal or plant?
  Coral is made up of countless tiny coral polyps. These small insects are exquisite in shape, beautiful in color, and very delicate.
  Coral polyps in their white larval stage are automatically fixed on the calcareous remains of their ancestors. Corals rely on their tentacles to capture food and secrete a type of lime (the mineral component is calcite) to build their shells. During the growth process, in order to capture more food and absorb sunlight, corals not only grow upward, but also expand forward, backward, left, and right, forming a branch-like biological group in a three-dimensional space.
  Coral polyps are very small, usually only a few millimeters, and are very delicate. They can only live in waters where the water temperature is maintained at 22°C to 28°C throughout the year. The water quality must be clean, highly transparent, and exposed to sufficient sunlight. They cannot be exposed to water for a long time at low tide. above the water. Only when these harsh conditions are met can coral polyps flourish and build coral reefs.
  Coral polyps absorb calcium carbonate dissolved in seawater and use it to make their own skeletons. Therefore, the chemical composition of corals is mainly calcium carbonate, which exists in the form of microcrystalline calcite aggregates and a certain amount of organic matter. The cross section of each single coral has concentric circles and radial stripes, and the color is often white, with a small amount of blue and black.
  In the formation process of red coral, it is necessary to rely on submarine volcanic activities to produce a large amount of iron, manganese, magnesium, zinc and other trace elements. Only by naturally absorbing these precious trace elements can the brilliant colors be finally formed. The growth environment of red corals determines the characteristics of red corals. These characteristics are an important basis for identifying true and false red corals. One of the significant characteristics is that red corals have pressure lines, which are deep or shallow cracks on red corals.
  How are pressure lines on red coral formed? This can start with deep-sea fish. The body of a deep-sea fish will burst as soon as it reaches the shore. This is because the pressure of the sea water is several times greater than the atmospheric pressure. In order to balance the internal and external pressures of the deep-sea fish in the sea water, the inside of the body cavity is also high pressure, so once it reaches the shore, its internal pressure is higher than the external pressure. If it is much larger, it will burst. The same principle applies to the formation of pressure marks on red corals. Since red corals grow in the deep sea, they are always under a lot of pressure, which in turn produces stress that resists external pressure. After the red coral was salvaged, the external pressure was reduced and the internal stress was released, resulting in deep or shallow cracks.
  There is no problem with shallower pressure lines on red coral. You should still be careful with deeper pressure lines, but there is no need to talk about the discoloration of the “marks”. Many gemstones – jade, ruby, etc. will have pressure lines, and red coral also has Stress lines become more delicate. In addition to pressure marks, red corals often have attachments, which are like inclusions in gems and are marine shellfish and other organisms that are parasitic or symbiotic in the interior and surface of red corals, thus forming irregular holes, grooves or The raised part is an inevitable phenomenon in the formation of natural red coral, and it is also one of the important features of natural red coral.
  The distribution of coral
  reefs is restricted by the conditions required for the survival of corals. Any sea area with coral reefs must have all the necessary conditions for the survival and reproduction of corals.
  The top coral is Aka, whose full name is red coral. Aka coral grows in the waters of Japan and part of the waters near Taiwan, China. It sells well all over the world and is loved by many collectors.
  The biggest feature of Aka coral is its white core. The white core is the ivory-like white part in the center of the original branch. This is one of the important features that distinguishes Aka from other precious corals. Aka corals are generally not perfectly round, but look a bit like turtles – the front is slightly flat, but the back is quite curved.
  Judging from the color, Aka coral is true red, commonly known as “ox blood” coral. The concentration of red varies, and commonly seen are orange, vermilion, true red, deep red, and black red. The darker the color, the more expensive it is. Of course, Aka coral also comes in pink, peach or orange-pink colors, but it’s not often encountered. Akha is ruddy in color and has glass luster. It has front and back sides. The front side is ruddy and the back side has a white core. It is generally used to make ring faces. Aka coral beads exceeding 10 mm are relatively rare, and if they exceed 20 mm, they are highly collectible.
  The second-level coral is called “Sardine”, which is mainly produced in the waters near Sardinia Island in the European Mediterranean. Because most of them are operated by Italians, it is also called “Italian coral”.
  Sardine corals are deep-water corals that generally grow 50 to 20 meters below the sea surface. Among noble corals, they grow relatively shallowly. Because it grows in waters that are not deep enough, sardine corals have almost no pressure marks on their surface.
  Sardine coral is a bright red grade, commonly known as “pepper red” coral, and its price is basically more than 300 yuan per gram. Sardine red coral has a uniform ruddy color and no white core. Common coral jewelry products such as bracelets and necklaces on the market are mostly made of sardine coral. The color of sardine coral is similar to that of Akha, with orange, orange-red, vermilion, true red, and deep red being common. However, it can reach the deepest color of Akha coral—that is, it is so red that it turns completely black, which is basically difficult to encounter.
  Both Akko coral and Sardine coral can reach a very conspicuous red color, but the value of the former is still many times higher. There are several reasons: First, the yield of Sardine coral is much higher than that of Akko coral, so things are rare. It’s expensive. Secondly, the density of sardine coral is lower than that of Aka coral. The low density also leads to the decline of its quality. If you look carefully at sardine coral, you can easily see the thick red coral fingerprint-like lines on the surface. Third, the texture of sardine coral is not as jewel-like as Akha coral.
  What is the third level? The main production area is the waters near Taiwan, China. The Momo family is a large and complex classification among corals. Except for Aka and Sardine, almost all others can be classified into the Momo family. The texture of Meme coral is between Akha and Sardin, closer to Akha, and it also has a white core.
  Take the surface of the ring as an example. If it is Akha and Momo with the same redness, at first glance, it seems to be the same, but if you look closely, you can see the difference in texture: Akha coral has a slightly translucent texture like glass. And texture, it looks crystal clear and slightly translucent. The unique fingerprint-like pattern of coral cannot be clearly seen on the surface of Aka coral. Momo coral has a porcelain texture similar to porcelain. Compared with Aka coral, the unique fingerprint-like texture on the coral surface is clearer.
  In recent years, with the increasing enthusiasm for collecting from all walks of life, the mining of red coral has become increasingly frequent, which has accelerated the depletion of already scarce red coral resources and caused the price to continue to rise.
  In the 20th century, the auction price of red coral was not high. After entering the 21st century, red coral began to be favored by some collectors, and the auction price increased significantly. At Christie’s spring auction in Hong Kong, China, in 2000, a large Qing Dynasty coral-carved Kuifeng ornament was sold for more than 370,000 yuan. At an auction in 2007, a large-scale coral sculpture from the Qing Dynasty achieved a high price of 572,000 yuan, making it the most expensive red coral sculpture in the red coral art market at that time. After the earthquake in Japan, the price of red coral soared again. In 2013, the price of this red coral sculpture exceeded one million yuan.

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