Coral is the precious material from the sea which is becoming increasingly endangered due to a loss of the pristine water conditions and natural ecosystem that allows it to grow. If we were to take better care of our environment and minimise pollution, we would all be better off, but that is all for another blog.
Coral has been used in orisha necklaces across the Atlantic. It is a material that has captivated many and is imbued with many sacred properties. Coral is indispensable in the initiations of priests of Yemaya and Erinle. The wearing of coral is called for in many odd, especially Oshe and it is said to purify the blood when worn, and also attracts prosperity. Who wouldn’t want that?! There are many different forms of coral and a variety of colours. One of the most well known is red-coral, sometimes called ox-blood. Mediterranean red coral has been prized over the centuries and Southern Italian red coral is consistently in high demand. There are Italian museums dedicated to the stuff, filled with exquisite art and jewellery in the fiery material. The Yoruba are not the only group that wear coral for its properties. Have a look at Indian astrology. According to your chart you may be told to have a piece of jewellery made with specific stones including coral to wear. You’d better believe that millions of people spend a lot of money to buy the highest grade of stones for their personal vedic astro-jewellery. Imitations just won’t do.
My favourite thing to see is elderly santeros and santeras decked out in their incredible gold and coral jewellery, huge rings with red coral cabochons, strings of spherical coral beads around their neck, and gold and coral earrings are beyond elegant. Coral is meant to be worn. One slightly salty perspiration feeds the coral when in contact with the skin and keeps it and us looking healthy. Real coral is very, VERY expensive. The strands you find for sale that look like coral with the $10-$100 price tag are actually something called bamboo coral, very different, which has then been dyed to make it look like the real thing. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of expensive but artificial coral out there too. When buying coral it is best to do so with a reputable dealer, someone that knows about gems and haute jewellery. You can sometimes find antique pieces for sale, but again, be careful of counterfeits.
One real, small piece of coral that you have invested in is worth all the dyed “coral” out there. Perhaps buy one real red coral bead or cabochon and have it mounted in silver or gold to wear it. You can also have coral (which occurs not just in red but a variety of colours) incorporated into orisha beadwork, namely necklaces and ides. That way you are actually benefitting from the spiritual and health properties that are inherent in the material.It’s a bit like imitation crab meat (krab), it might be tasty but you know it’s not the real thing by the price. The same goes for coral and what we can call “koral”, make a distinction of knowing when koral can be used and when coral should be used.