Guide to Coral - From Polyps to Reefs to Jewelry - Maui Divers Jewelry

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Guide to Precious Corals


To our valued international customers. Due to US federal regulations and requirements, we are unable to ship coral items internationally. We apologize for the inconvenience. 


Corals are formed deep undersea by microscopic animals called coral polyps. These tiny, soft-bodied creatures form minute, hard shells. As a colony grows, it takes on complex branching, tree-like forms which allows the maximum number of polyps to be fed by the nutrients in the water. Over time, colonies can form structures ranging from a hand-sized fan to a continent-wide reef.

Precious Coralwas used in the oldest form of gemstone jewelry with pieces dating back 25,000 years showcased in museums. The use of coral, whose distinctive feature is that it can take a perfect polish, even predates the use of another ancient favorite, the pearl.

Each coral gemstone color has its own distinct quality. Black Coral is exotic and dramatic and has long been considered to guard against misfortune. Pink Coral is delicate and is said to bring good health. Red Coral is best described as rich and romantic.  And Gold Coral with its mysterious inner light, is the rarest of all corals.  


Black Coral: (Antipathes Grandis) The first new Black Coral bed found in centuries was discovered by Maui Divers in deep waters off Lahaina, Maui in 1958. Today, Hawaiian Black Coral -- the world's finest deep sea precious coral and the Hawaii State Gemstone -- is carefully collected by hand by our divers at depths that exceed 200 feet.

Mature colonies may take 50 years to grow, so to ensure the future of Hawaiian Black Coral, Maui Divers strictly adheres to both federal and state regulations that the company helped to establish, prohibiting the harvesting of immature colonies. In this way, not only sustainability, but also growth of precious Hawaiian Black Coral is supported.

Black Coral is rare and, when polished, it shines with such luster you can almost see your own reflection in it. Its stunning contrast against yellow gold makes it a wonderful gift as well as a beautiful keepsake to treasure forever. Our popular Paradise Ring features an ocean wave shaped by a graceful cut of polished black coral, gold maile leaves representing Hawaiian royalty, and diamonds that shine like the evening stars over paradise; a perfect reminder of a trip to the Islands.



Pink Coral: (Corrallium Secundum) Pink Coral was first discovered off Makapu`u Point, Oahu, in 1,200 feet of water in 1966, and we began making jewelry from it the same year. Now it is found over the entire length of the Hawaiian chain from Oahu in the east to beyond Midway Island in the west.

A very dense and hard gemstone, its color runs the entire spectrum of pink, from almost white to hibiscus pink to salmon red. The marbled and shaded colorings in some larger pink corals are natural qualities of the gem. The value of Pink Coral gemstones vary according to rarity, but all shades of this coral are highly prized. Maui Divers hand selects only the highest quality stones that meet our rigorous standards of excellence.

Our Pink Coral designs reflect the beautiful and fragrant blossoms of the Islands, such as the pikake flowers, which may well have been fashioned into the lei you received during a visit to Hawaii. Our Princess Ka`iulani ring was named after the most beautiful princess of Hawai`i; when you turn it to the side, it looks like a crown.


Red Coral: (Corallium Japonicum) With a history predating the ancient glories of Rome, precious Red Coral has been revered since early civilizations for its color, luster and texture. Found in ocean depths of approximately 500 to 1,000 feet, Red Coral grows only about 1/4 inch per year, making it a highly treasured gemstone. Our Red Coral is harvested in waters off the island chains of Ogasawara and Ryuku, as well as the Mediterranean. We also hand select both rough material and cut stones of the highest quality from markets around the world.



Hawaiian Gold Coral: (Gerardia Species) Hawaiian Gold Coral was discovered in small amounts in 1971 by Dr. Richard Grigg using Star II submarine in the same general area as the pink coral discovery area off Makapu`u Point in 1,200 feet of water. In the year 2000, two new beds of Hawaiian Gold Coral were discovered; one atop an ancient underwater volcano called Cross Seamount, 100 miles south of Oahu, the other off Keahole Point on the Big Island of Hawai`i. Both beds were at a depth of 400 meters (about 1,300 feet). The beds off Makapuu were the only commercially harvested beds in the world. 

Hawaiian Gold Coral grew at a rate of approximately 3 inches per year, and only about 3% of the bed could be harvested annually. Both State and Federal laws strictly regulated the harvest. Of all gem corals, Hawaiian Gold Coral was by far the rarest.   

The color of Hawaiian Gold Coral varied widely and displayed many interesting patterns, unlike Pink and Black Corals. Its color ranged from a sandy beige to almost black. Hawaiian Gold Coral has a special characteristic called “Chatoyance,” from the French word for “cats eye,” which describes a mysterious moving inner light.