There are many coral imitations out there but this is the real thing. You can tell by the vivid colour, the lustrous finish and the unmistakable “fingerprint” pattern, visible under a 10x loupe. Precious coral, or corallium rubrum, native to the Mediterranean, has been harvested since antiquity and has been cherished by many civilisations for its beauty.
Unfortunately, precious coral has also been over-harvested and sold illegally. As a result it is now listed as a threatened species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Fishermen and marine biologists have been working together to prevent over-finishing, to maintain coral populations and to develop techniques to preserve the seabed flora and fauna.
Today, corallium rubrum harvesting is strictly regulated in the Mediterranean. In Italy, there are 100 licensed scuba divers who are only allowed to fish in rotating sea beds from May through September.
Nevertheless, our humble coral supply here at Fi Atelier comes mainly from second-hand sources, which is still a very rare find.