Sciacca coral tells a story of discovery and beauty. Here we explore the fascinating origins of this beautiful gem, and discover why it is so rare, and so prized…
What is Sciacca coral?
Sciacca coral is an antique, fossilised coral.
Celebrated for its rarity and colour, Sciacca coral is known for its unique hues. The coral is found in a distinct orange shade, intense salmon, or black with yellow markings.
The colour tells us how old the coral is. A lighter orange is relatively young, dating from around 2000 BC, while a lot of black tell us it is from around 10,000 BC.
This coral enjoys a romantic and mysterious origin story. Discovered quite by chance on a Sicilian seabed, this ‘red gold’ created a stir in the late nineteenth century. The mystery of its origin provided rich inspiration for art and poetry.
Where does Sciacca coral come from?
Sciacca coral is named for its origin. In 1875, a large deposit of fossilised coral was found near the coast of Sciacca in Sicily.
The discovery was made in the Bay of Sciacca after the last appearance of the infamous Isola Ferdinandea, or Ferdinandea Island. In the nineteenth-century this volcanic island became famous for emerging from the sea and, within months, sinking back into the depths.
The coral was a breathtaking find. Bringing geologists in to examine their discovery, the Sicilians learned its fascinating story. Hundreds and even thousands of years ago, small pieces of coral were introduced to the sea by volcanic eruptions, from the submerged Isola Ferdinandea.
Recent studies confirm Sciacca coral is fossilized Corallium rubrum, or red coral. Every time the underwater volcano near Sciacca erupted, it boiled all the living organisms including red coral. The action of volcanic mud during thousands of years preserved this coral, creating its unprecedented shades.
Thanks to the strong Mediterranean currents, these pieces of fossilised coral swept along the seabed and gathered together. Over the centuries, this collection of coral became a huge (almost 30 meters deep) deposit. This was what our nineteenth-century fishermen found, beginning a ‘red gold’ rush to harvest the coral lasting nearly twenty years.
Is Sciacca coral rare?
This coral is incredibly rare, for two reasons.
Sciacca coral is an antique, fossilised coral. The coral dates from thousands of years ago, although the first deposits were only found in 1875.
Before the 19th century came to a close, most of the material had been harvested. No more of this material will be found, so the only sources we have are antique supplies from centuries ago.
Second, the skill and knowledge required to create Sciacca coral jewellery is an uncommon art. There are very few artisans left in the world who know how to work with this precious material.
This is why we are so proud to offer Sciacca coral in our jewellery. There is something so magical about owning a piece of jewellery made from such a rare and beautiful natural material. It is a true piece of history.
Why is Sciacca coral so wonderful for jewellery?
The first thing you will notice about Sciacca coral is its stunning colour.
Sciacca coral comes in a beautiful range of hues, including a distinct orange shade, salmon pink, and sometimes black or grey. The shades are not quite like any other coral, so are not replicated in any other kind of gemstone.
With the right skills and knowledge, this natural material can be transformed into a beautiful gem. When cut and polished, the material takes on a beautiful, glossy appearance. Its tactile surface is a nod to its natural origins.
Sciacca coral was formed by small pieces breaking off the reef, so most of the individual deposits were very small. Large pieces of the material are a rare find, so jewellery made with large beads and cabochons is very special.
Is Sciacca coral an environmental choice?
Sciacca coral is a perfect choice for anyone considerate of our world’s natural recourses.
Now many centuries old, the use of Sciacca coral has absolutely no impact on live coral. This coral is antique, or vintage. Every piece currently in circulation was collected from the original deposit back in the nineteenth century.
At Clara Stones, we respect our natural world and only use sustainable sources for our coral. We adore using Sciacca coral. Rare, precious, and beautiful – everything we love about jewellery!