A pop of coral can instantly take a simple summer item from plain to powerful, just by adding a splash of the fiery hue. From the real deal in jewelry containing the branch-like sea life to the imprint of its skeletal silhouette printed on sandals, mini-dresses and beaded maillots, coral in all forms is hitting stores in various pieces and in a refreshing range of prices.
The use of real red coral in jewelry and accessories has become rare because of over-harvesting of reefs, making it pricey and controversial. On the higher end, Bottega Veneta has made delicate new coral pendants hanging from coral beaded chains that look great layered with other drapey jewelry. For something bolder, John Hardy makes a coral brooch wrapped in diamonds and white gold.
L.A.-based designer Pade Vavra recycles vintage red coral in her jewelry to create nature-inspired pieces such as nests and birds. "I love to use coral in my designs due to its tree-branch silhouette," Vavra says.
Larry Platt, owner of Platt Boutique Jewelry in West Hollywood, sells antique and estate pieces and has seen a spike in the vintage coral trend. "Lately I've been seeing it a lot in pendants from the early-1900s Art Nouveau period and from the '60s and '70s when bold color started showing up in jewelry," Platt says, adding that red coral is also emulated in resin or by using lighter colored (and less endangered) coral and dying it a more intensely red hue.