Simulants and Synthetics Of Coral

by Manisha G

synthetic-coralCoral is extensively imitated and by many materials. What is probably the most attractive counterfeit of coral is a suitably stained vegetable ivory, but this may be identified by the dot like cell structure seen when the surface is examined by a lens. Mixtures of rubber and gypsum powdered marble mixed with glass and coloured red with cinnabar or red lead, stained calcined bone coral dust suitably bonded together or even plain sealing wax have all been used in the simu­lation of precious coral. Today the most common substitutes are glass, porcelain and the various plastics.

Coral is sometimes stained, often to a deeper red, or in pink patches so as to resemble ‘angel’s-skin coral’. This can be detected by the dye coming off on to a swab charged with nailpolish remover (amyl acetate). It may be fair to point out that in any repairs or cleaning of coral needs care. Any acid preparations should not be used, for even such a ‘bland’ acid as vinegar has been known to attack some coral; and some of the cleaning detergents will be detrimental to the surface of coral.

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