Man has been using the red corals in the jewellery since ancient times. Romans used to hang pieces of coral around their children’s necks believing that it could prevent and cure diseases. In some parts of Italy, it is still worn to ward off the ‘evil eye’. Indians also use coral pieces as jewels in their rings and other ornaments. But what is a coral?

          Coral is the hard dried skeleton composed mainly of calcium produced by colonies of small animals known as ‘coral polyps’. They are small invertebrate organisms. The polyps of living coral live in tiny cups in the skeleton formed beneath and around their outer body. The polyp first attaches itself to a rock beneath the surface of water. The young ones are born as small buds from its body. When the old polyp dies, the living polyps remain attached to its skeleton and produce more buds. In this way, corals gradually build up into colonies of many millions. As layer upon layer of coral is built up they actually form reefs and islands in the ocean.

          Corals can be found in most seas, but the reef-forming ones prefer warm, shallow water. A coral reef begins as a fringing reef along the shore of a continent or island. Corals are found mainly in the warm tropical waters of the Pacific, the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. We get red and pink corals from polyps found in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Africa and Italy. Corals begin to shine when they are polished. These are mainly used in ornaments.