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Coral and Shell Jewelry Information

Coral Coral was very popular in jewelry from 1840 to 1875 when complete sets of jewelry were fashioned from these underwater treasures.  Coral, like jet, is relatively soft so it can be easily carved. Cameos, rings, brooches, bracelets and strands of polished beads were made in abundance, especially from the coral found in the water off the Mediterranean Sea. Children’s jewelry, baby rattles and teething rings were also fashioned from coral since it was believed to ward off evil.

In the 19th century many of the motifs were of nature, and coral took the form of flowers, twigs, branches and leaves. Coral in its natural state looks like little tree branches. Most of the material was combined with intricate gold work and sometimes enamel. Gem-quality coral is found in several of the seven seas. The most highly prized is the dark red variety found off the coasts of Tunisia and Algeria. A black coral and a less valuable pink variety come from the ocean around Hawaii, and a blue coral is found in the Indian Ocean as well as parts of the Pacific Ocean. Coral in its raw form is the many-branched remains of colonies of tiny sea creatures.

  Examples of Coral Jewelry Perlin Jewelry has sold. - Click Pictures below for more information.
  Coral Oval Tear Drop

Shell jewelry is made from the hard, smooth iridescent inner lining of the shell of certain mollusks (pearl, oyster, abalone, nautilus, river mussel), consisting chiefly of plates of calcium carbonate (in the form of aragonite or calcite). It is secreted by the mantle in thin overlapping plates and cemented together with an organic substance from the iridescent substance known as Nacre. This is called mother-of pearl. This substance has been used for making cameos, carved pendants and buttons.


  The advice on about coral jewelry Information and shell jewelry Information antique to vintage comes from jewelry experts Linda and Perry, as well as from our frequent visitors. If you'd like to add anything to this page, or have us add a topic of interest for you, email us at

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