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The perfect summer accessory

Coral — a symbol of summer relaxation. When worn as part of a piece of jewelry, coral almost says, “stress-free and laid-back” as it brings the ocean to your collection of accessories. Although the most popular corals worn are bright hues, there are many different types and colors. Coral is often misunderstood, so here are some fun facts that will help you become more knowledgeable of a common material. Throw some of these facts out the next time you see someone wearing coral at a cocktail party. You’ll impress guests with your knowledge of yet another mystery from the sea.

■ Coral comes in various shades depending upon the type of coral and the region of the ocean.

■ A calcareous secretion, coral is often mistaken as a mineral or a plant.

■ Coral can be compared to the pearl due to its organic structure, its home being the ocean and its makeup being mostly calcium carbonate.

■ The origin of the word “coral” is ultimately unknown, although there are a few theories:

• First, that the word is derived from the Greek word korallion, which reflects its hard skeleton of the coral “animals.”

• Second, that it is derived from kura-halos, or mermaids, because the branches seem to take the form of small beings.

• Third, that it comes from the Hebrew word goral, which is a stone used in the drawing of lots.

Coral can be up to 16 inches in height. Their branches are usually 1.5 inches.

■ The jewelry we see comes from the fork of the coral, which is thicker by nature.

■ Formerly, coral used to be harvested by nets which proved to be destructive. Now, divers are sent down and the branches are carefully cut from the rest of the coral’s body.

■ Although most think coral has a glossy layer naturally, this is not the case. Coral is matte in its original form. After processing and polishing, the coral shines.

■ The best coral is free of cracks and crevices. Some manufacturers will fill the cracks with colored wax. High quality — and more expensive — coral is essentially flawless.

■ Coral comes in various colors including, red, white, blue, brown and black. Blue coral is extremely rare. The most common colors are pink and light shades of red to deep red.

■ Coral is made of a soft material and should be treated with care. Elements, such as hot water can harm, or even destroy, a piece of coral jewelry.

■ According to the International Colored Gemstone Association, red coral is worn still today as a talisman to ward off evil spirits in many different cultures.

■ Other positive results from coral, as stated by the CGA: reduces tension, fear and improves social life.

■ Coral is used for jewelry and creative sculptures.

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