Marvels under water.
By Kusum Mehta
Coral has been popular for thousands of years. Its curative powers were strongly believed by the ancient Romans. A piece of red coral was supposed to change colour according to the state of the wearer’s health. Coral held a treasured place among the inhabitants of Persia, Tibet, India and Africa. Strings of coral were considered royal gifts in some parts of Africa, and coral was sacred in India two millennia ago.
Corals sometimes are mistaken as minerals and sometimes mistaken as plants under the sea. However, they are a kind of micro-worms distant relatives of jelly-fish, swimming freely under the sea. Until they are grown-up worms, they fix themselves on the boxes of their ancestors. Their touching hands stay inside their castle, and only stretch out to prey on micro-creatures under the sea. They also secrete a kind of shine, making their accomodating facilities even more consolidated. They keep on reproducing themselves by way of their division.
Other new coral worms also swim towards the grown-up and strengthened corals, growing adherently. By doing so the corals accumulated will be growing by increasing for the sake of seeking food and sunshine, the corals will branch out upwards and sidewards like a growing tree, forming a branching foliage, strange and queer in various shapes and forms. Eventually, they thus become surprising artistic items, known as “Princess in the shallow sea”.
Coral worms are classified as hard, soft picking corals and hard coral plants. Their comples and synthesized inter-action forms the resultant grand coral reefs. In the underwater world, like chrysanthmum flowers satiny balls, pine tree, stars, deer-horse flowers, making the viewers dizzy.
The main components of corals are calcium corbonate, their degree of hardness is 3.5, while relative density is 27. The corals used by us as ornaments are the minerals secreted by microcoral worms, the bone residues left by the decomposed coral worms. So, corals are not only used in the the field of jewellery but also widely applied in industry. Even some coarse corals are used as construction materials.
Corals usually are grown ten-150 ft below the sea surface. They are found under the shallow sea coasts of Red Sea, Australian coast, Taiwan, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Sardima and Italy.
There are many varieties and colours of coral. White coral is the most common. Other colours include pink, orange, pink orange, blue, red precious corals and black (“King’s corals”). Among a great variety of corals red corals are valued most.
As corals have once been live, so among many kinds of lifeless precious stones synthesised from minerals, they show outstandingly and are praised as the symbol of life.
As science corals have pleasing colours and well-shaped bodies, so they have been used as expensive desk decorations since the ancient times, or cut into artistic ornaments treated by ancient emperors as strange and rare items existing immortally. Although corals today cannot be treated being as valuable as gold in the ancient times, they are still regarded as ornaments of rarity by people. To pick a piece of good coral requires courage, care and perseverance, because the rocks of the coral-reefs at the bottom of the sea are so irregular and sharp. It is liable to get hurt or bruised if one is careless. Moreover, you will find breathing difficult under the sea. But when you see the glittering and colourful corals, you will cheer up.
Gem-quality coral is uniform in colour and dense enough to take a high finish. The value of any particular colour is a matter of local fashion, but the deep red variety, sometimes called “Ox-blood coral”, generally commands higher prices. Pink and pale-coloured coral, sometimes called “angel’s skin”, can be even more expensive, and a fine well-matched stand of leads may cost several thousand dollars. The finest coral gems come from Italy.