Deep-water coral displays bright, rich reds and delicate pinks. With a rich history of lapidary use, corals are among the oldest known gem materials. Unfortunately, due to changing climate and over-harvesting, these gems are becoming quite rare. Since they’re made of colonies of tiny marine creatures, corals are very susceptible to damage. Learn about precious coral buying factors before purchasing beads, cabochons, or carved coral items.

Precious Coral Buying and the Four Cs

The IGS coral value listing has price guidelines for light pink, deep pink, and red coral cabochons.


Red to pink hues of calcareous precious coral hold the most value. (These primarily consist of calcite). Most notably, Corallium rubrum is traditionally harvested in the Mediterranean Sea. Since this area has produced coral since ancient times, the color range in these organisms sets the standard for precious corals. These gems exhibit hues of “ox blood” red to light, peach-pink “angel skin.”

However, prevalent orange secondary hues will reduce prices somewhat. Red-hued corals are the most valuable. Due to increased demand from China, the value of these gems is rising.

Conchiolin corals (made primarily of conchiolin) grow in concentric circles, like tree rings. These can show…