Diamond from the sea bed - coral in jewellery

Oliwia, 04/08/2021
Diamond from the sea bed - coral in jewellery

Corals, although they look like plants, actually belong to the animal kingdom. These rock-forming cnidaria live in colonies, usually at shallow depths, in waters of the warm and hot zones. When they die, their skeletons are colonized by other polyps that, growing side by side, join together to form colorful coral reefs. Thrown ashore or collected from the sea floor, they are used in jewelry industry. They can have different colors - from red through white, blue, gold and even black! Coral, next to pearls, is one of the most widely used organic materials for producing jewelry.

And this state of affairs has lasted for centuries, because jewelry with coral amulet was worn already by the ancients. More recently this material has appeared in many cultures and works of art - after all, red coral is also an inseparable part of Polish folklore! Considered a talisman, it was attributed with many healing properties. It was believed, for instance, that the fading color of a coral means that its owner is ill. A piece of red coral hung over a newborn's bed chases away evil spirits and protects from the "evil eye". It was also associated with a wide symbolic meaning - the "flower of the sea" was a sign of high status and strength, and jewelry with coral was a common measure of wealth in women's outfits. Therefore, the massive and uncontrolled commercial harvesting of coral was one of the main threats to its existence. But not the only one. Corals are very sensitive creatures, susceptible to any changes in temperature and acidity of the water, so human activity and its impact on environmental changes has a direct impact on the condition of these organisms.

Although coral does not evoke as much emotional response as ivory, the question arises whether its use in jewelry does not have a negative impact on the environment. As with all other gems, the most crucial thing is to buy it from a verified, or certified, source. Awareness that corals were being destroyed and overfished resulted in improved fishing methods and strict regulations that clearly define who, when and in what quantities can extract this valuable material. Certified dealers guarantee that the coral available from them is dead skeleton broken by the tides, harvested by hand from the sea floor or beach shore, and thus in a way that does not damage the sea depths - a bit like shells.

There is another way to responsibly enjoy coral on a daily basis. It's recycling, which means reusing an already commercially available raw material without committing new resources.

This is the path that designer Anna Orska has chosen to follow. Creating a new line of Maris collection she used coral branches which she came across during over 20 years of work in jewellery industry. Brass elements designed and hand-made in ORSKA's workshop embed coral in modernity. Orska combines the traditional, elegant raw material with bold design, so that the resulting jewelry is not just a sigh of the era. The limited edition line was made in only a few pieces - exactly as many as there was enough coral carefully collected over the years. Out of respect for the great blue, the designer decided not to purchase new coral and expand the collection.


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