Mediterranean Coral has been used by the Native American Tribes since the Spanish arrived with trade goods. It was highly valued and rarely used in jewelry pieces.
At Lantern I'll tell you how we have been sourcing this gem from the Mediterranean directly, and how we think it can add uniqueness to your Southwestern collection; it's not traditional, how we are using it, but it is traditional all at the same time.
The hard skeleton of red coral branches is naturally matte, but can be polished to a glossy shine. It exhibits a range of warm reddish pink colors from pale pink to deep red. Owing to its intense and permanent coloration and glossiness, coral has been harvested since antiquity for decorative use. Coral jewelry has been found in ancient Egyptian and prehistoric European burials, Copy written 2010 Lantern Dancer.
Above is pictured a unique piece designed and created by Leigha Cleveland, a 5th generation Navajo artist. (Leigha is passing on her craft to the next generation) Shop her daughters Navajo Pearls here. We used high grade Golden Hills Turquoise with some massive Mediterranean vintage coral branches. Coral is like glass in it's fragility. It has a ting ting ting type sound when tapped, unlike turquoise which is more earthy and like a thud thud thud.
Here (above) we used coral for a turquoise cactus pendant, but mostly kept the 2 favorite stones separated while layered with Navajo Pearls and handmade chain. Shop our handmade Native Made chain here.
This gorgeous vintage jocla Santo Domingo necklace is phenomenal and separated by delicate heishi white shell beads with a traditional sky blue sleeping beauty turquoise beaded center. We love the marrying of the land and the sea. It shows that the union of these two has been around for a time even though we are having fun with a more contemporary placement. Since the 60's coral cabochons were widely used in Native Jewelry designs.
A couple years ago, I needed a vintage cabochon replaced. A small piece for a client in a much loved Native Made vintage watch. I was surprised that for a 4mm long by 3mm wide piece it was going to cost the client roughly $200 dollars. Coral can be a pricey bit. That's why we have since been direct sourcing our coral from ethical harvesters in Italy. It truly is the best Italian coral on the market and we love seeing it pop up in our designs.
Before the 60's it was mainly used in heishi work by the Santo Domingo tribes. And it was a prized and highly valuable heirloom, meant to be passed from generation to generation. These family heirlooms are forbidden to be sold except on the cause of sickness or hunger by many Native Tribes.
We know here at Lantern that jewelry is meant to last a lifetime and then some. We love how well our clients near and far cherish these beautiful coral designs. If you haven't yet added coral to your collection shop our's here.
All pictures were taken by Lantern Dancer of Pieces we have made or sourced-all rights reserved.