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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. Indeed, most Tibetans now regard natural 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 beads are also mounted or set into gold and silver jewellery, such as earrings and saddle rings. Along with amber and turquoise, coral beads are also sought after to create ornate hair ornaments or headdresses.

It is also an important ingredient in Tibetan medicine and is believed to act as an antidote to poison. In the Tibetan culture, red coral is also seen as an efficacious amulet for warding off negativity and bringing protection to 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. Coral cabachons (usually beads or fragments of beads) are also used to decorate statues, amulet containers, 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 malas (prayer beads) because it is believed to magnify or enhance the activity of the Dharma practitioner. Worn by both men and women, from the most humble monk to the highest ranking officials,
it would be hard to find a jewel that holds quite the same allure and power.


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 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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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
Our Price: £455.00

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
Large Natural Red Coral Beads ~ 13 mm to 14 mm
A group of 3 Large Natural Red Coral Beads ~ 13 mm to 14 mm
Our Price: £310.00

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
Large Natural Red Coral Bead ~  19 mm x 18 mm
Large Natural Red Coral Bead ~ 19 mm x 18 mm
Our Price: £255.00

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
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 + or -
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