The age-old tradition of coral

Published in Jewellery & Watches
05 January 2016

In discovery of red gold and the coral-making tradition of Torre del Greco. A material used to make magnificent artisanal creations that has fascinated people since time immemorial.

A hard material that can be moulded by skilled artisans, coral has fascinated men since pre-historic times. The Greeks held that coral grew from the blood of the gorgon Medusa which hardened on coming into contact with the air; the Arabs thought that coral derived from the tears of Allah; in Medieval times it was thought to represent the blood of Christ; in the East, in the Mediterranean, in West Africa and in Eastern Europe, coral amulets were believed to protect people from evil or illness.

Coral is made out of calcium carbonate that is secreted by organisms known as polyps . To-date, 27 species, living in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, have been discovered. Coral can be red, pink or white.

The cutter studies the branch, frees it from its stony parts, removes the tips that are unusable and separates the fringes used to make necklaces and horn-shaped amulets. He then cuts the large parts and separates the material required from the base to make earrings and rings, using the trunk to make statues, amulets and other artistic objects.   

Coral-making is closely connected to the city of Torre del greco in the province of Naples, where, for centuries, its inhabitants have dedicated themselves  to fishing and trading in coral.

Taken from Cavalluce Digitall www.cavalluce.com