The mystique of precious coral, dating back over 20,000 years, has made it one of the most exclusive and desirable of all gemstones. Throughout history coral has possessed its own special intrigue, captivating cultures from the earliest times.
Coral originated on the Mediterranean Sea coast where it was revered during Greek and Roman times as a talisman of good fortune, well-being and protection. As word of its alluring properties spread, Mediterranean coral was exported all around the world, finding its way along the Silk Roads to Japan. There it adorned the crowns of emperors and was highly regarded in religious ceremonies. When Europeans arrived in the New World, they introduced “blood coral” coral to the Native Americans who used it in necklaces and as trade beads. In its long and illustrious journey through history coral has never ceased to enthrall and inspire. Today coral’s tantalizing beauty and renowned history as a gem to be treasured continue to hold sway over the world’s most elegant women.
Precious corals grow in a dark, secret world at the very bottom of the ocean. Found in the Pacific waters of Japan and Taiwan, as well as the China and Mediterranean Seas, coral is known as “the hidden gem of the sea”. It is formed when tiny, soft-bodied marine organisms called coral polyps form minute hard shells made of calcium carbonate, a material chemically identical to that of pearls. Deep-water corals grow very slowly and can live for thousands of years.
The sea around Kochi, Japan is the only source of the world’s rarest and most sought-after precious coral. The exceptional quality of Pacific coral is the main focus of Kawamura’s magnificent collections. This most noble species grows over very long periods of time and must be harvested at far greater depths than other corals. Some of the most stunning coral gardens can be found tucked away in dark, submarine caves. Unlike a pearl, precious coral does not emerge from the sea shimmering with translucence. With a deep reverence for Japanese tradition, Kawamura’s gifted artisans carefully polish and carve our exceptional coral in order to elicit its true beauty. When it is finally brought to its full flourish there is no other coral on earth that can vie for its its splendor.
The sublime rainbow of colorations native to Pacific coral, which compliment any skin tone and never fail to delight the eye, are the main source of inspiration for the Kawamura Collection. Pacific corals possess a unique white core, an exclusive feature that determines their provenance, demanding the greatest dexterity in the design process.
Precious coral is often confused with reef coral which is soft and porous and not suitable for making jewelry. Coral reefs are found around the world in shallow tropical waters where there is often sunlight. Their massive colonies teem with diverse marine ecosystems unlike precious coral which do not grow in large enough quantities to serve as thriving habitats for ocean life. In recent years pollution and climate change have altered ocean pH levels around the world. This causes stress to shallow coral reefs and creates coral bleaching, which has elicited global concern for the future of these reefs.
The unparalleled attributes of Pacific Oxblood coral leave no doubt as to its superiority to red corals found in the Mediterranean. Widely regarded as the “truest” of its coloring, Pacific Oxblood is unique to the warm currents of Japan, especially Kochi. It varies in hues from stunning crimson to a rich purple-red color. Adding to its rarity and value is the length of time it takes for Oxblood coral to grow which is slower than any other coral in existence.
The more commonly known Mediterranean coral exhibits a range of colors from salmon to a deep red similar to the Oxblood variety, but Japanese Oxblood reigns supreme in both quality and value.
Momo Coral casts its spell in a lush array of hues from pink to orange-red and grows at a faster rate than Oxblood.
Angelskin or Bokeh Coral is a rare variety of whispery light-pink hues. While the colors that count as "Bokeh" can be found in different kinds of coral, the highest value is the "Hon-Bokeh", or "True Bokeh", which is only found in Japanese Momo corals. When it comes to rareity and value, Hon-Bokeh coral can rival even the best Oxbloods corals.
Hime or Princess Coral is visually similar to Angelskin. Sourced from Taiwan, Hime possesses a beauty all its own in entrancing shades from periwinkle pink to white. Shina Coral is very similar to Hime but sourced from The China Sea.
Scaccii Coral is a rare variety of Momo Coral that evokes the mysteries of the sea with its unusual white and pink marble pattern.
White Coral, the quickest-growing precious coral, conjures a world of beauty and light in shades from ivory to purest white. Deep Sea ivory white coral is delicately enhanced with dapples of bright orange pink.
Precious coral is chemically identical to pearls and requires the same care. In order to maintain the beauty of your coral, avoid contact with perfume, skin lotion, soap, perspiration or jewelry cleaning solutions. Remove coral jewelry before bathing and performing skincare and makeup routines. Authentic natural coral will not change color, but can lose its luster or become cloudy if not cleaned regularly. The best way to clean your coral is to gently wipe it with a soft, dry cloth.