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You are here: Home > dZi & other Ancient, Antique & Rare Collectible Beads > Coral



Coral has been a prized material in Tibet and the Himalayan regions for many centuries. In fact Tibetans have come to regard red coral as being more precious than gold (the most prized beads can sell for as much as $200 per gram in Tibet). Salmon orange to deep red beads are always the most valuable. Round beads are also more sought after than other shapes because they can easily be strung as prayer beads or used in necklace compositions. Coral is also used to mount gold and silver jewellery such as amulets boxes, rings and ornate hair ornaments. It is also an important ingredient in Tibetan medicine and is believed to be an antidote to poison. In the Tibetan culture, red coral is also seen as an efficacious amulet for warding off negativity. It is often heirloomed from mother to daughter or given as part of a dowry. Sometimes an entire families wealth may be invested in coral and other precious beads such as amber, turquoise or dZi. Coral cabachons (usually beads or fragments of beads) are also used to decorate statues, prayer wheels, stupas and ritual items such as mandala sets and metal tormas. Here it is seen as a precious offerings to the enlightened ones and enhances the overall beauty of the work. It is particularly favoured as a material for malas because it is believed to magnify or enhance the activity of the Dharma practitioner. It would be hard to find a jewel that holds quite the same allure.

The majority of antique 'Tibetan' red coral actually originated from the Mediterranean Sea. It travelled along the silk trade route via Iran, Samarkand, Ladakh and then finally ended up in the markets of Lhasa. It was also traded to India by a direct sea route from the end of the 15th Century. This made it much easier for Tibetan traders to get a more regular supply. Mediterranean coral is now rightly protected from harvesting, so it is difficult to find undyed beads. The marketplace offers many fake coral beads and dyed alternatives, however, they can never be a substitute for the real thing!

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15 Antique Red Coral Beads
15 Antique Red Coral Beads
Our Price: £200.00

A lovely group of antique red coral tube beads that were sourced in Nepal.

Age of beads: 100 to 300 years
weight 13 grams
smallest 12 mm
largest 24.5 mm
Condition: Very good
Large Antique Coral Bead ~ 19 mm
Large Antique Coral Bead ~ 19 mm
Our Price: £168.00

A large natural barrel shaped coral bead.

Collected in the 1980s
19 mm x 15 mm
Age: 100 years old +
Condition: Mostly very good with natural pitting

Antique Coral Bead ~ 19 mm
Antique Coral Bead ~ 19 mm
Our Price: £108.00

A lovely antique coral bead with a great patina from many years of being worn on the body.

Origin: Tibet/Nepal
Natural untreated coral
19 mm x 15 mm
5.9 grams
Age: 300 years old
Condition: Very good with natural pitting and surface fissures.

Huge Antique Mosaic Coral Bead ~ 22 mm
Huge Antique Mosaic Coral Bead ~ 22 mm
Our Price: £84.00

A huge antique mosaic coral bead. Coral is so highly prized in the Himalayan regions that even beads with surface fissures and holes are very sought after. Not a piece of coral was wasted! Gaps were often filled with a wax and pitch mixture that is called lakh. Sometimes smaller pieces of coral were also added to give the appearance of a complete and much more uniform shaped bead. The result is that each bead has its own unique character.

Collected in the 1980s
22 mm x 16 mm
Age: 100 to 300 years old
Condition: Mostly good with natural pitting and surface fissures.

Antique Mosaic Coral Bead ~ 19 mm
Antique Mosaic Coral Bead ~ 19 mm
Our Price: £55.00

A lovely antique mosaic coral bead. Coral is so highly prized in the Himalayan regions that even beads with surface fissures and holes are very sought after. Not a piece of coral was wasted! Gaps were often filled with a wax and pitch mixture that is called lakh. Sometimes smaller pieces of coral were also added to give the appearance of a complete and much more uniform shaped bead. The result is that each bead has its own unique character.

Collected in the 1980s
19 mm x 15 mm
Age: 100 to 300 years old
Condition: Mostly very good with natural pitting and surface fissures.

Imitation Coral Bead
Imitation Coral Bead
Our Price: £0.45

A large plastic imitation coral bead. If you require more than one bead please add more to your cart.

approx 22 mm
Sourced in Nepal
Condition: Excellent
Antique Red Coral and Turquoise Bead Necklace
Antique Red Coral and Turquoise Bead Necklace

SOLD!

A wonderful Tibetan necklace comprised of antique natural red coral and round turquoise. The beads display a desirable usage patina and weathering commensurate with age.

Recently re-strung on strong braided cord.

Collected in Tibet in the 1980s
Age of Beads = 100 to 300 years old.
weight 66.6 grams
Condition: Mostly very good.
approx length of necklace = 32 inches
turquoise = 8 mm
largest coral = 9.5 mm smallest coral = 5 mm