Our journey of discovery into the art of coral processing starts from one of the most beautiful and charming places in Italy.
Torre del Greco, on the slopes of Vesuvius, a land of fishermen and craftsmen, seafarers and artists, is famous worldwide for the art of coral working. For over 200 years, this small town, in the region of Campania and not far from Naples, has been a highly specialised centre of the so-called 'red gold', with a production district comprised of around 200 companies and over 2,000 employees, with 70% of total production for the international market.
Over the years, the coral produced in this specific area of Italy has received increasing attention from the greatest designers of some of the world's most prestigious jewellery brands like Bulgari, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, as well as Leo Pizzo and Crivelli.
Today, 'red gold' is synonymous with style, fashion, and lifestyle on an international level.
We need to clarify what is meant by "red gold", focusing on its sustainability.
Coral is a biogenic gemstone, varying in colour from pinkish-white to red, consisting in various species of marine anthozoan coelenterates.
Only 8 species are defined as precious worldwide, to distinguish them from the common ones or from the over 7,000 coral reef barriers. Coral from the coral reefs lives in shallow waters and therefore is an easy a victim of various forms of pollution and defacement that can never be equated with the world of jewellery.
Instead, the Mediterranean coral, known as Rubrum, lives at much greater depths and is much stronger and more resistant. Thanks to its hardness, it can be worked, unlike reef coral that, for this very reason, has no commercial value.
The Cibjo Coral Commission has carried out very thorough work on coral in recent years, involving the scientific and university authorities with whom it has developed a series of projects: from aspects linked to nomenclature and taxonomy to the identification of precious coral species using the DNA barcoding technique so as to certify that coral jewellery is not produced using reef corals.
A sustainable and nature-friendly red gold.
For all these reasons, coral is the product of a workmanship with a great historical connection but, at the same time, open to the trends of the future. Especially in the United States, a market at the forefront of the rediscovery of original, sustainable products with a strong nature.
Contamination and new trends, continue to write the history of red gold in the years to come.