By Chinelo Eze
April 25, 2022 | 11:32 am
Deep in the sea, mother nature gives rise to corals known as the guardians of the sea. Coral beads, also called precious jewels of Africa, have been used for thousands of years until today. . They are a staple fashion piece used by most brides at their traditional wedding. This may be the only time their neck is…
Deep in the sea, mother nature gives birth to corals known as guardians of the sea.
Coral beads, also called precious gems of Africa, have been used for thousands of years until today. They are a staple fashion piece used by most brides at their traditional wedding. This may be the only time their necks are adorned with bright orange strings, as they show royalty.
Where do coral beads come from?
Unlike other stones formed by minerals, corals come from the depths of the sea and grow in colonies. Basically, coral beads are the hard skeletal remains of sea creatures called coral polyps. Corals are naturally dull in appearance but achieve their shine and luster when polished. When obtained from these coral polyps, they are used as beads, carvings and engravings like flies and on brooches.
Although orange corals are the most popular and sought after, corals come in different colors such as white, gray, pink, orange, purple, scarlet, and vermilion. It is also in black and rarely in blue. Red colored corals are found in the Mediterranean Sea and it is the most valuable of all coral stones.
In the heyday of the first millennium, coral was highly prized because it was believed to have mysterious sacred properties. In Italy, coral stones were won by women with infertility problems believing in their healing powers and they are also used to ward off the evil eye.
In India, red coral is a symbol of wealth given its prized value by human society. So the next time you adorn your aura with coral bead necklaces, know that it’s not just about being adorned with beautiful, expensive jewelry, but a chain of positivity. While in Russia and Poland, coral rings are considered a status symbol. In the Middle East, for wealthy people, it is traditional to produce “Tasbish”, the normal Islamic rosaries, in red coral.
Red corals, also called precious corals, are found only in tropical and subtropical saltwater environments. These places include Taiwan, the Malaysian coast. The Canary Islands, Hawaii, the Australian coast, Italy (Sardinia) and Japan. However, the production of coral gems decreases as it harms the sea.
The value of corals is instructed by hue, size, their cuts, weight, saturation and artistic skills.
Dyeing and bleaching are some of the aspects used to enhance or modify a coral. Which means since dyed, it may fade.
The use of corals began before history could even record it. Corals were used not only to adorn women’s necks, but also as decorative elements with spiritual affiliations to weapons and helmets. And this is due to the protective power and spiritual feelings that surround corals.
Corals were popular in the Victorian era and discovered by archaeologists at burial sites in prehistoric Europe of ancient Egypt. These were used by Egyptians in burial tombs to protect against evil spirits from the afterlife, much like the idea that a drop of divine blood gave it color.
Similarly, the people of Benin in Nigeria have deeply bonded with coral beads and use it to bury an Oba.
They even take it a step further with a special “Ivie” festival to celebrate coral beads. This festival is believed to rejuvenate the spiritual powers of pearls given that they are of marine origin.
In Beninese culture, if a pearl is sent to a woman, it implies that she is betrothed to the Oba when given to a man, it means that the man becomes a leader.
Generally called the garden of the sea, in South Africa it is called the African star. Symbolically, corals evoke modesty, immortality, wisdom and happiness. Along with its spiritual abilities, corals are used to attract wealth, success, strength and foresight.
With its production dwindling, how would you know if your coral beads are dyed? A simple turmeric test will tell. Using turmeric to rub coral, if the color of turmeric seems to pop out or absorb a red mark after rubbing, what do you think?