Theophrastus, Aristotle’s successor, was the first to take an interest in coral stone which he considered to be a petrified plant. Until the 17th century, the stone is perceived as a strange underwater shrub whose milky sap was observed in 1613 by a gentleman from Lyon. In 1706, the Count of Marsigli mentioned coral’s flowers, coral stone was recognized as a kind of animal close to the octopus by Jean André de Peysonnel, in his memoir of 1744. Over the centuries, the knowledge of the stone has been refined. Réaumur and Jussieu, who initially contradicted the idea of the stone being an animal, finally recognized this thesis as soon as they learned of Tremblay’s work on the freshwater hydra. In 1863, studies by Lacaze-Dythier researchers demonstrated the validity of this thesis.
Raising many questions, L’Oréal Recherche wished to carry out a study by scientific researchers to verify the action of UV filters on corals. As sun creams have been criticized for years for their potential harmful impact on corals, the aim was to find a result that could reveal the real consequences of sun creams on biodiversity. The source of problems is notably zinc oxide and titanium oxide which cause the spread of infection. The result of this work reveals an absence of the harmful impact of UV filters on the photosynthetic activity of corals. L’Oréal’s biodiversity group and the impact that their products can have on biodiversity have taken into account coral reef bleaching to evaluate this scientific test, as coral bleaching is synonymous with coral die-off. Even when exposed to higher levels of bleaching than in the marine environment, corals retain their photosynthetic capacity. Finally, corals are animals found in the oceans and are characterized by a calcareous skeleton.
The body of each polypier is about 2 mm long, similar to a tubular bag with 8 inner compartments, and a hole with 8 finely serrated tentacles. This bag is inserted into a connective tissue, the so-called coenorsarc, in which it can fully retract like sea anemones. All the individuals of the colony or superorganism are interconnected by a system of vessels running parallel to the axis of its « branches » and carrying a whitish fluid. When danger approaches, the entire colony is enclosed within the coernosarc. This explains Marsigli’s interpretation of a blooming of « flowers » when the individuals reappear after the danger has passed. The foot of the polyps and the base of the coenosarc secrete calcareous spicules whose successive deposits form an external skeleton to the superorganism. The latter thus resembles a leafless shrub, whose petrified branches have a kind of gelatinous bark.
In the same superorganism, all individuals are of the same sex. However, some branches of a « tree » may carry « individuals » of different sexes. Coral superorganisms multiply and spread by sexual reproduction. Each egg matures at the end of a stalk in the stomach cavity of a female polyp. It is there that sperm spread into the water by the male polyps comes to fertilize it. The result is an elongated microscopic larva that in the ocean becomes a kind of small jellyfish. Coral is found in a coral reef. The Great Barrier Reef is the best known ecosystem. Coral stone’s chemical composition is as follows: Calcium carbonate, CaCO3, with magnesia and organic substances. Hardness: 3-4. Density: 2.6 to 2.7. All over the world, deposits are found in the Malaysian Archipelago, in the Bay of Biscay, in the Canary Islands, in Japan, in the Mediterranean, in the Red Sea and in the North of Australia.
Being an unusual marine animal, this species is enveloped in mysteries. In Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”, the Latin poet relates the origin of coral stone, in the story of Perseus and Andromeda. After saving Andromeda, Perseus places the head of the Gorgon Medusa on a bed of seaweed, his eyes towards the ground, so as not to endanger the population. The gorgon’s gaze petrified the algae and gave birth to this stone. This is why in Greek the stone is called “Gorgeia”, in relation to the gorgonians. Symbolically, the stone, according to cultures and times, has several meanings. All over the world, corals have been sources of beliefs and the different existing species help to maintain the magic. The Romans made children wear coral necklaces to protect them from injury. The tradition lasted for years until the medieval period. The use still persists in Italy, especially to treat infertility problems. Symbol of fertility, it is always recommended to women who wish to become pregnant to wear a small coral horn around their neck.
In China, coral stone was a symbol of wealth and high social status. The Amerindians, on the other hand, considered it to be a sacred stone, a symbol of life force energy and protection against the evil eye. In Greek mythology, it was a gift to mankind from the demigod Perseus. Legend has it that after killing Medusa, he threw her head into the sea, and her blood turned into red algae which then formed corals. Among the Romans, this stone holds an important place in literature. Pliny the Elder advised people to wear this stone to repel people capable of offering all kinds of temptations. The Gauls were reputed to use coral stone in the manufacture of their shields, helmets and weapons in order to gain courage on the battlefield.
First of all, it is an excellent first stone for children. Indeed, according to many legends the comforting aspect of the stone would protect children during their adventures and games as well as in their daily life. On an emotional level, corals are beneficial because they help with visualisation and the circulation of vital energy. In addition, they would be of great comfort thanks to its calming effects with people suffering from sadness. Coral stone would also have the quality of repairing the aura after certain traumas. It is nevertheless important to specify that in case of excessive sadness or any other physical or psychological problem, this stone (or any other) cannot be used at any time as the only treatment. However, corals cannot interfere with your recovery and can be used in conjunction with the approval of a health professional.
Psychologically, the following benefits are attributed to the stone :
Stone of protection, it is considered powerful. It is said that it can help to relax, to overcome inner and emotional conflicts. From a more symbolic point of view, the stone has the reputation of protecting against enemies, the evil eye, spells and curses. If you think you are the target of malevolence, the coral is therefore a stone to have on you. Black or purplish-black coral is the coral stone of the subconscious and dreams. It protects from negative energies and helps to get out of states of sadness. Pink corals help to overcome emotional conflicts, states of panic, feelings of fear, and to protect oneself from one’s fears (Heart Chakra). It can also be used as an aid in all meditation techniques. In lithotherapy, this stone is used for its contribution in energy, vitality and joy of life.
In lithotherapy, many benefits are attributed to corals. For example, they repair deficiency disorders due to poor nutrition by facilitating the assimilation of minerals. They strengthen the spine. In case of bone and enamel disorders, they strengthen the teeth. In the same way, they help to fight against joint pain. They are also particularly indicated in cases of decalcification, fractures and bone problems. This is why it is strongly advised to the elderly to wear this stone. Coral is a general tonic organic stone, ideal for women because it relieves painful periods in particular. As an elixir, it strengthens the heart and circulatory system. It acts on the metabolism by activating the thyroid gland and thus releasing toxins, the quality of the blood would then be improved. Coral stone can also help combat cold feet and varicose veins.