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Antique Coral Beads
For hundreds of years coral has been harvested and collected by populations of peoples worldwide. Since the Mediterranean is now protected from coral harvesting, the contemporary coral we are familiar with is more than often dyed in order to mimic the beautiful natural colors of ancient corals. The corals shown below are 100% natural, showing the amazing color diversity in ancient corals that you just can't find in modernly harvested selections.
No, there are no coral bearing seas in Tibet, BUT these beads of natural rich red were grown in the Mediterranean and traveled to the Silk Road, passing through the hands of many different traders on their way, well before Marco Polo traveled in the 13th century. Smooth, ox blood colored, unblemished beads are the most desired and command the highest per gram prices.
Coral, being a material that was obtained in oceans far away from the Himalayas, was so greatly prized by the Tibetans that they attempted to make use of every piece. Mosaic coral (shown above) is a way of making use of every little scrap of this precious material. Beginning with irregular shapes of fine pieces of coral, they filled in the gaps with a wax and pitch mixture called lakh. The result is a beautifully unique composite bead. While less expensive than regularly shaped beads, the primitive look of such mosaic coral is in some ways more interesting.
Grown in the Mediterranean at least 100 years ago, the pink coral was not considered as desirable as the dark red, but was still traded and sold into North Africa, Arabia and the Near East for centuries.
Another natural colored coral from the Mediterranean, the Straits of Malacca and the Red Sea, it was cut into beads between 1775 and 1925. Referred to as 'white coral' for it's most dominate color, it is not unusual to find beautiful streaks of natural burnt orange throughout the beads. Although Tibetans value the darkest red most highly, all coral is good coral and you will see it included in many of their designs.
Originally grown in the Mediterranean, this version of white coral is more dense, producing a much shinier polish. The newest of beads are at least 300 years old, and were traded into the Near East and North Africa. These white corals have patches of a very soft pink blush, mostly found around the hole.
These pale coral strands originally came out of the Mediterranean Sea, but were traded into Afghanistan because their particular color was highly desired in the region. These coral beads are as new as 100 years old, but some older beads are mixed in among the strands.
Prices mentioned in Lost Cities' emails, blogs, handouts, websites, etc. are effective the date of publication. They are subject to market conditions and availability and may be modified as necessary at Lost Cities' discretion. Lost Cities Beads 2802 Juan St. #14 San Diego, CA 92110 (619) 692-1114 Monday-Saturday 10am - 6pm Sunday 10am - 5pm Closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day Questions, comments? Contact us either by phone during business hours, or email us at email@example.com. Copyright Lost Cities 2009