Then I remembered Don and I snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef in 1994
during our travels around Southeast Asia when Don was managing the area for
National Semiconductor and I accompanied him on his business trips. After
business in Melbourne, we traveled to Cairns with snorkeling on our minds.
We found someone to take us and spent a lovely afternoon.
Everything was colorful, abundant, vibrant and full of the orangey coral I
loved. But I noticed a few sections of white coral and didn’t understand
it. I came to understand it is bleached coral and I subsequently invented
my own story: true coral was becoming more extinct and bleached, so they
started dying it. I made that up because all I ever saw at bead shows was
“dyed red coral”. It’s a lovely color when dyed well-if not, white shows
It turns out there is a bit of truth in my story, so I decided to update
myself and my dear readers on this subject.
Coral clusters form a reef barrier, very important to ecosystems, beach
protection, fishing, and tourism, not to mention coral’s own subsistence
since red algae attaching itself to coral gives it its natural color. If
the temperature or the salinity of the water change, coral reacts by
expelling the algae, revealing its white skeleton. This is bleaching.
Using Australia as an example, they made the Great Barrier Reef into a
protected reserve. Voila, no coral for jewelry. The very happy news is
they are discovering coral is able to adapt and acclimate to changes and it
is believed it will survive.
Dyed red coral are pieces of skeletal coral dyed. Nothing can replace the
beauty of natural coral, but I can live with dyed red.
That said, this necklace is natural! These coral beads came from a
multi-strand necklace I found in my travels and promptly cut up. It has
supplied me with coral for years!
The sterling silver sea scallop shell with a piece of coral is beautifully
made with great-and realistic-details. I have a clear memory of buying it
in an ethnic-type shop in Palo Alto after returning from Hong Kong. It
measures 3″ by 3″.
The necklace is 22″ long with a sterling silver clasp. Wear it with your
silver earrings. $115.