Have you heard? Coral is chic again—and not just because Gucci featured it in its spring 2018 runway show! Coral is coming back thanks to sustainable farming methods of precious jewelry-specific coral. Not surprisingly, Assael is leading the pack in terms of jewelry offerings. Sustainable coral comes from locations all over the world, including the Mediterranean Sea, and is not the same as the endangered, non-precious coral reef species that made headlines more than 10 years ago. Assael is a proud member of the Confédération Internationale de La Bijouterie or CIBJO, a highly respected organization that works with the UN globally to improve conditions for workers and lessen environmental impact. According to CIBJO, precious coral grows more than 100 meters below the water’s surface, unlike reef corals that live from 30 meters on up. Most precious coral in jewelry is also often treated to enhance its colors; however, the beautiful Sardinian precious deep red coral (from the waters around the Italian island of Sardinia) that Assael offers is naturally perfect! Ditto for Assael’s rare soft pink Angel Skin coral, which is only sold if stock is at least 50 years old due to strict environmental regulations.
“Christina Lang Assael loves coral but is a lifelong environmentalist,” explains Peggy Grosz, director of development. “Our coral is sustainable, ethical, and will only increase in value. Much of Assael’s exquisite coral inventory comes from the very finest sources, who will only partner with an esteemed brand like Assael because they know we genuinely appreciate its rarity, beauty and legacy. They trust us to share the tale of its responsible acquisition.”
“We’re not just using it as an element—coral is now a permanent part of our collection. We have a depth and quality of inventory that is unsurpassed in North America,” adds Grosz. “In Angel Skin and Sardinian coral, we have a full variety of sizes and forms, from luscious strands to drop shapes and cabochons that we set into earrings, pendants and rings.”
With Sardinian coral, the richer and deeper the red, the more valuable it is; whereas with Angel Skin coral, the palest pink—almost a blush color or tinted white—is the most valuable. Assael’s selections start with the exceedingly rare to the very fine qualities, though all are considered gem quality. The brand’s rarest offering? An enormous super-pale pink color Angel Skin coral bead necklace. The piece is so special that the most prestigious gemological laboratory in jewelry, the GIA (Gemological Institute of America), requested to ink a monograph about it. To wit, GIA’s team of gemologists, scientists, and specialized writers set to work on the tome, all agreeing that had never before seen a strand so fine. The monograph was completed in January.
“When you have something in the gem world that is exceptionally rare and fine, receiving a monograph is a mark of total legitimacy for it,” says Grosz excitedly. “A monograph from GIA means that in the context of all like material available, the featured piece is in a class of its own.”