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Black Coral Jewelry Review

By Edited Mar 3, 2016 2 3

Let a piece of black coral jewelry be your vacation souvenir.

Black Coral Jewelry

Black coral jewelry is the answer if you are looking for a lasting and meaningful memento of your Cayman Islands vacation. Black coral jewelry is not cheap, but in the end, it is a far better keepsake than a pile of T-shirts and a dinky magnet or two. Actually, like diamonds, emeralds, and other precious gems, black coral jewelry will appreciate, making it as much an investment as wearable jewels. Also, many of the handcrafted pieces of black coral jewelry, you will find and purchase in the Cayman Islands, are often considered artwork because of their uniqueness.

What is black coral jewelry?

To answer this question, let’s first define some terms. In the simplest meaning, black coral jewelry is made from corals of a particular species—that species being Antipatharia or black-corals. Black-corals, of course, are one type of corals found in the sea.

Wikipedia defines corals, in general, as “marine organisms…” And specifically, it defines black-corals, “as a group of deep water, tree-like corals related to sea anemones which normally occur in the tropics although they are also found in shallow water non-tropical areas…”[1]

[[1]Tazioli, S., Bo, M., Boyer, M., Rotinsulu, H. & Bavestrello, G., 2007. Ecology of some common antipatharians from the Marine Park of Bunaken (North Sulawesi, Indonesia). Zoological Studies, 46, 227–241]

As for its name, ‘black-coral,’ Wikipedia says:  “Though black-coral's living tissue is brilliantly colored, it takes its name from the distinctive black-or-dark-brown color of its skeleton.”

In terms of jewels, black coral jewelry takes many forms. Craftsman who work with black-coral are both jewelers and artists, and they design and physically create black coral jewelry that include earrings, necklaces, pendants, beads, bracelets, rings, cufflinks, etc. Think of all the treasures you see in a jeweler’s display cabinet, and imagine them fashioned with, or containing some amount of, black-coral. The creative possibilities are endless. Also, black-coral is just as often made into sculptural art pieces, just with a much higher price tag!

Where do you find quality black coral jewelry, and why are the Cayman Islands significant?

As we established before, black-coral, like all forms of sea corals, are living beings. Therefore, we want to be careful in how we approach using this precious and beautiful life form. It is a gift to us from Mother Nature, and while we may enjoy it, we must also protect it.

Black-coral is endangered, and it is also a slow grower. Check out these interesting facts from Wikipedia:

“In March 2009, scientists released the results of their research on deep-sea (depths of ~300 to 3,000 m) corals throughout the world. They discovered a subdivision of Black-Coral, A. Leiopathes sp. specimens, to be among the oldest continuously living organisms on the planet; around 4,265 years old. They show that the "radial growth rates are as low as 4 to 35 micrometers per year and that individual colony longevities are on the order of thousands of years.”[2] [3]

[2Roark EB, Guilderson TP, Dunbar RB, Fallon SJ, Mucciarone DA (2009-02-10). "Extreme longevity in proteinaceous deep-sea corals". Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 10.1073/pnas.0810875106 (13): 5204–8. doi:10.1073/pnas.0810875106. PMID 19307564. PMC 2663997]

[3Graczyk, Michael (2009-03-25). "Scientists ID living corals as 4,265 years old". The Associated Press.]

You must purchase your black coral jewelry ONLY from responsible people and/or businesses that specialize in fine jewels. The reason? These people and entities care about protecting black-coral and other forms of sea life. And they acquire their black-coral in an ethical, environmentally friendly way that abides with current conservation laws. In other words, these craftsman and businesses will not abuse the privilege of using this precious, beautiful gift from the sea. They are as passionate about protecting black-coral as they are about making exquisite pieces of black coral jewelry and sculpture.

As for why the Cayman Islands have become a destination for finding quality black coral jewelry? Two of the most talented black-coral artists were based in Grand Cayman, the largest island of the three that comprise the Cayman Islands.

Who are these black coral jewelry artists?

Richard, of ‘Richard’s Black Coral Jewelry and Gallery,’ is the artisan from whom my parents and I have purchased all our black coral jewelry. All of his work comes signed and carries with it a certificate of authenticity. In terms of black coral jewelry, my mom, dad, and I each have rings. My mom has a turtle pendant, with a gold chain, and heart earrings, and I have a matching heart necklace.

Black Coral Jewelry Two

Black Coral Jewelry Three

Unfortunately, Richard is no longer living, and his shop is no longer open. Richard’s black-coral pieces are now sold at ‘Diamonds International’ in George Town. (George Town, on Grand Cayman, is the capital of the Cayman Islands.). ‘Diamonds International, with boutique(s) in the Caribbean, the Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Key West, and New York City, is a well known, reputable business from which to purchase your black coral jewelry.

While in George Town, another excellent shop to visit, for black coral jewelry, is ‘Bernard K. Passman Galleries.’ Like Richard, of ‘Richard’s Black Coral Jewelry and Gallery,’ Mr. Passman, who is also deceased, was both a jeweler and a sculptor of black-coral. In addition to the two galleries in Cayman, there are also galleries in Alaska, Las Vegas, Hawaii, and St. Thomas.

Where else can you find certified black coral jewelry?

If you are not vacationing in, or cruising to, any of the above spots, but you would still like to own a quality piece of black coral jewelry, then check out the jewels offered by Maui Divers, sold on Amazon. Maui Divers, with location(s) in California, Guam, and throughout Hawaii, make their black coral jewelry using black-coral from the Hawaiian waters.

Why purchase black coral jewelry?

As a proud American, I hope, when people from other nations vacation in my country, that they take home a souvenir made here, from our craftsman, which reflects the American culture, history, or spirit. And when I travel to another country, I want to do the same. I want a keepsake made by a proud member of their country, which reflects their culture, history, or spirit. Therefore, when you are traveling in the tropics, and you buy a piece of black coral jewelry, fashioned from local black-coral, then you are taking home a piece of that special place.

Since black coral jewelry is beautiful, wearable, and art, which will only appreciate, you are choosing a truly timeless memento of your vacation. Always remember, though, buy your black coral jewelry ONLY from certified dealers.

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Feb 27, 2011 7:46pm
Mar 15, 2011 6:19pm
What beautiful jewelry can be made from black coral. Thanks for the article and the wonderful photos!
Jul 22, 2011 6:10pm
I have a really nice artpiece that I purchased from Richards Gallery in 1998. Does anybody have any suggestions or contacts for me to get this valued by somebody or company that deals with Black Corral and/or any of Richard's work? Please contact me at kristiemueller@yahoo.com. I live in the MidWest and nobody around here has much experience with this stuff.
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