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.
Royal blue lapis lazuli comes from the silicate mineral lazurite. Polished stones often show gorgeous veins of white calcite and flecks of golden pyrite. Used by ancient civilizations from China to Sumeria, lapis lazuli inlay adorned the mask of ancient Egypt's King Tutankhamun. Lapis lazuli is somewhat rare and much of the deepest blue stone is mined in Afghanistan. Denim lapis has a lighter blue color and Aztec lapis features dramatic veining of black and brown minerals.
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