13 June 2011

spotlight on...coral

I'm loving the coral trend in home decorating right now, but it got me thinking. Isn't coral endangered? Is the stuff we see in home stores the real deal or replicas? Who came up with the idea of using coral as accessories? Well, here is the scoop, along with great ideas on how to use coral as decoration and where to find it. 

Corals are a living animal, and are considered gems - gems that have been prized by artisans and craftsmen throughout history. Ancient civilizations used to make ornaments of them, often with gold as an accent. Greeks, and then Romans, became skilled in carving cameos from it. Ancient Hindus in India used red coral as a charm against disease and danger.The Chinese believed in coral's ability to calm storms, protect sailors and diminish thunder and lightning. Coral is one of the Buddha's "Five Sacred Stones" that symbolize the energy of the life force (the remaining four being crystal, for light; turquoise, for infinity of sea and sky; gold, for the golden ray of the sun; and silver, for the light of the moon). Ancient civilizations in Mexico used coral in elaborate masks and necklaces. And the Navajo used ground coral to create their sacred sand paintings to bring rain. 

Red is considered to be the most sought after coral colour, but it also comes in white, black, yellow and pink (you know, the colour coral).  Red coral is a symbol of life and longevity, and pink shades are said to restore harmony to the heart.  

Unfortunately, due to pollution from unethical fishing techniques along with an increase in harvesting coral for commercial use, most coral varieties are now on the endangered species list. Coral for use in jewellery, aquariums and now home decoration is very trendy, but I for one don't want to contribute to the endangerment of a species. Fortunately, most of the coral decorations sold at home and craft stores is fake, but good enough to look like the real thing. Just to be sure though, I always check it out before purchasing. 

Lately I've seen coral used in artwork, as lampbases and bowls, on pillows and fabrics, and as ornaments themselves. They can be found in high end home stores and in discount gift shops alike. You can find great ones on Etsy and e-bay.  Another great source, of course, is fish and aquarium stores. Just make sure to buy the replicas. There are some great finds at great prices. 

Here are some great examples of using coral as decorative accessories and art. 
bowl from Alessi

spotted at Crate and Barrel for $300

and at HomeSense for $50

found at Bed Bath and Beyond

  great inspiration board from Simplified Bee
So do you like this trend? Do you make sure to purchase only replicas of coral? Send me your thoughts.

OK, off to watch Nemo...


  1. What a lovely post about coral. Why not bring the sea to your home as opposed to wishing your home was closer to the sea.

  2. Exactly Tracey! It is pretty easy these days to find things to inspire a sea shore feel. Thanks for reading!


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