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Coral makes a splash

With its spiky geometry, understated elegance and sunset glow, the undersea entity is the it adornment for summer.

June 21, 2009|Melissa Magsaysay

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.

"The popularity of coral has grown recently because the aesthetic isn't so serious and people are now looking for ways to tone down the bling in jewelry but still keep an element of fun," he says.

While coral jewelry adds a natural, beachy element to an outfit, items printed with the sinewy coral shape are bold and just scream summertime. A one-piece bathing suit from Milly has an all-over coral print that's sliced down the middle by a plunging V-neck and finished with coral-colored piping and some gold beads at the chest and neck string. If you want to wear the trend in a more understated way, Old Navy has coral-print sandals that give a more subtle hit of the color and print and would look great with a tan and a peachy-pink pedicure.

Felix Rey's line for Target includes an embroidered coral silhouette on a raffia clutch and a coral print on a roomy, white tote bag. For a head-to-toe look, Lilly Pulitzer's teal Brayden dress has a coral print that's finished off with deep coral-colored stones that create a built-in necklace, so you're immediately accessorized and ready for the summer.

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melissa.magsaysay@latimes.com

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