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You are here: Home > dZi & Rare Collectible Beads > Coral

Coral has been a prized material in Tibet and the Himalayan regions for many centuries. Indeed, the majority of Tibetans now regard natural red coral to be 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 collectible than other shapes because they can easily be strung as prayer beads or used in necklace compositions. Coral beads are also mounted or set into gold and silver jewellery, such as earrings and saddle rings. Along with amber and turquoise, coral is also sought after to create ornate hair ornaments or headdresses.

Coral is also an important ingredient in Tibetan medicine and is believed to act as an antidote to poison and treats problems related to the liver. In the Tibetan culture, red coral is regarded as an efficacious amulet for giving protection and warding off negativity for the wearer. 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 as this can easily be traded in the marketplace. Due to the scarcity of these beads prices continue to rise and so coral is regarded as a very sound investment. Coral cabochons (usually mounted beads or fragments of beads) are also used to decorate statues, gaus, prayer wheels, stupas and ritual items such as mandala sets and metal tormas. In this way it is seen as a precious offering to the enlightened ones or 'Three Jewels' and enhances the overall beauty of the object.
It is particularly favoured as a material for Buddhist malas (prayer beads) because it is believed to magnify the power of mantra recitations and thus enhance the spiritual activity of the Dharma practitioner. Worn by both men and women, from the most humble monk to the highest ranking officials,
it is hard to find a jewel that holds quite the same allure and power.




The majority of antique 'Tibetan' red coral 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 of this material. Today, Mediterranean coral is now rightly protected from harvesting, so it has become very difficult to find genuine beads. The marketplace offers many fake coral beads and dyed alternatives from China, however, they can never be a substitute for the real thing!

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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
Large Natural Red Coral Bead ~  19 mm x 18 mm
Large Natural Red Coral Bead ~ 19 mm x 18 mm

SOLD!

A large antique natural red coral bead. Extremely difficult to find in this size and very sought after colour! This bead has remained in a private collection since the 1980s

Condition: Very good with natural pitting and fissures inherent in the coral.
No breaks or repairs
approx 19 mm x 18 mm
Age: 100 years plus
10 grams
Large Natural Red Coral Beads ~ 13 mm to 14 mm
A group of 3 Large Natural Red Coral Beads ~ 13 mm to 14 mm

SOLD!

A wonderful group of three antique natural red coral beads. Extremely difficult to find in this size and very sought after colour! These bead have remained in a private collection since the 1980s

Condition: Very good with natural pitting inherent in the coral.
No breaks or repairs
approx 13 mm to 14 mm in length approx 12 mm to 13 mm width
Age: 100 years plus
9.6 grams
A group of 4 Large Natural Red Coral Beads ~ 13 mm to 15 mm
A group of 4 Large Natural Red Coral Beads ~ 13 mm to 16 mm

SOLD!

A wonderful group of four antique natural red coral beads. Extremely difficult to find in this size and very sought after colour! These bead have remained in a private collection since the 1980s

Condition: Very good with natural pitting. No breaks or repairs
approx 13 mm to 15 mm in length
approx 11.5 mm to 13 mm width
Age: 100 years plus
14.6 grams
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