Precious coral

This is a red colored well known coral, used for jewelry. Precious coral is also durable and hard to imitate. When seen underwater the color is more whitish, as precious coral is covered with small white polyps.

Precious coral is a slow grower

Precious coral will be never larger then one meter high. The growing rate is about one centimeter a year. But nowadays it is hard to find a piece of precious coral that is larger then two decimeter.

Precious coral and its distribution.

Precious coral can be found near the African coast in the Mediterranean Sea to a depth of 200 meter. The precious coral grows on dark places, like caves.

Precious coral for jewelry

Precious coral skeletons have been harvested since antiquity for decorative use in the Mediterranean Sea and Red sea. And before that time it was used as a kind of currency by Paleolithic man. Coral jewellery has been found in ancient Egyptian and the Roman Imperium. Although the precious coral will renew itself, its growing rate is very slow. Because of its high price and as it becomes more rarely, precious coral has been imitated often. Precious coral is easy to distinguish from fake: The precious coral is made of kristals of colored fused cristals.

Precious coral and a octopus.


The red color of precious coral is produced by red algae, they inhibits the the skeletion, together with the polyps. Red algae are specialized in transforming light into energy at great depth. The energy is transported to the polyps. In there turn, they give minerals to the red algae, a form of symbiosis.

Anatomy precious coral
1 stomage with septa
2 mooth
3 polyp with outstreched tentacles or arms
4 retracted polyp
5 attachment for the tentacles
6 retracted tentacles
7 polyp
8 central part.

Precious coral, painted by P. Flanderky, an illustration from Brehms.