The organic gem coral is the skeleton of coral polyps which live in the sea. Dull when harvested, it can be polished to a high shine. Red and pink varieties are generally found in warm Asian and Mediterranean waters. Coral has been carved in China for 2,000 years and was used medicinally and as an amulet in other ancient cultures. Sea bamboo is a vivid red gem from the coral family. Fossilized coral dates from the Ordovician period of prehistory and displays beautiful colors and a gorgeous starburst pattern when polished.
Malachite is a shining copper ore with swirling islands of rich green color. Used since ancient Egyptian times as pigment for cosmetics, dyes and paints, malachite's primary use today is still ornamental. Popularized in modern times in 19th century Europe, it was worn as protection against the "evil eye." Much of today's fine malachite is mined in the Congo.
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