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Learn About Corals

Natural Decorative Coral for Homes, Parties, Weddings, and More!

Coral come from tropical oceans around the world. Found in a wide variety of shapes, textures, and colors, natural sea coral has been highly prized by collectors for centuries. Today, decorative natural corals add the unforgettable beauty of the ocean to your wedding, event, home, or aquarium.

Once retrieved from the ocean, corals are cleaned and prepared for decorative use, a process called curing. Once cured, corals are suitable for use in home and office decor, for display purposes, or (in most cases) inside saltwater aquariums.

Because the corals are almost always fragile in nature, even a fine specimen may have broken fingers or branches. (Often such breakage occurs due to natural forces in the ocean, before the coral is taken to land for curing.) The curing process often includes trimming broken pieces, but natural corals are still rarely "perfect." Becauseno two pieces of natural coral are ever truly alike, they are the perfect way to express your unique style!

Decorative Coral Comes in Many Colors

Corals are occasionally dyed, but the stunning blue ridge corals and red pipe organ corals sport all-natural color that comes straight from the ocean. Blue ridge corals tend to be heavy; large pieces are sturdy enough to use as bookends or as building blocks in an aquarium display. Their color ranges from light slate to a deep soldier blue. Green fire coral is similar in shape to blueridge, but comes in a bright, light, lime green. Red pipe organ corals weigh much less than they look, being composed of many hollow tubes. Colors range from salmon to a deep, vibrant red that will make your centerpiece or aquarium display stand out in the crowd!

The white corals abound with a vast array of shapes and sizes: delicate branch corals, sturdy brain corals, intricate birdnest corals, compact catspaw, and wavy-ridged rugosa are just a few of the many kinds available. Color ranges from "natural" white (similar to an eggshell) to off-white to rich cream. All natural corals offer head-turning style wherever they are used.

Coral for Your Home, Wedding, or Party

Try a branch coral, a few seashells, and a teal satin cloth backdrop for an easy, elegant ocean-theme display. Tall rugosa, more shells, and some beach sand around the base becomes a reef centerpiece for a party, wedding, or event. For arresting vertical displays, arrange unusual, branching octopus coral pieces with a base of heavier corals or large shells to hold it up. Lace and birdnest coral make intricate, delicate focal points for that small shelf or spotlight corner. They also serve as detailed counterpoints when displayed with bold pieces like blueridge, green fire, and catspaw corals. Elegant elkhorn corals displayed with a ship's lamp or wheel speak of the classic days of travel by sea.Ruffled Poca coral commands attention as a center display, offering boldness and arresting detail in the same piece. Pirate and surf themes look even more authentic with some of nature's treasure from the sea!

For elegant backdrops, don't forget sturdy black seafans. Their delicate looking branches spread far and wide, framing your white or colored corals with a subtle touch that says "ocean" like no other. Black seafans are actually lightweight and quite sturdy, standing up to rigorous handling for displays and considerable abuse from your aquarium residents (marine hermit crabs love to climb them!) For a truly unique wedding favor, glue small seashells or tiny fish ornaments to a small black seafan, and attach a card thanking your guests for participating in your special day.

Red seafans are more delicate and require gentler handling, and come in a rich, all-natural terra cotta color that is sure to enhance your ocean theme decorations. (We do not recommend red seafans for use in aquariums, however.)

Whether you're decorating for a party, adding a touch of the ocean to a corner of your home or planning the wedding of a lifetime, natural sea coral is sure to provide the unique look that sets your home or event apart from all others.

Types of Coral

Poca coral is a very lightweight type of coral that is very popular as a display piece, wedding centerpiece or an aquarium decoration. Poca comes in many shades of white and off white, with tinges of yellow on some pieces. Occasionally some poca have an attached birdnest coral or small encrusted barnacles. The branches often resemble lettuce leaves, flowers, or ruffled skirts. Because of Poca's delicacy it does tend to break easily, so chipped and dinged edges are normal for Poca corals. Any chipped edges can easily be shaped with a small grinder. Even though it is delicate, Poca actually ships very well except for the largest pieces.

Birdnest coral is a moderately lightweight type of coral that --- as the name implies --- resembles a bird's nest. The coral is composed of many needle-like branches that can vary in diameter from 1/8" to 1/4". The range in branch diameter can make this coral's appearance very fine and delicate, or very open and coarse with thicker branches, and everything in between. Most pieces are white, sometimes off-white. Birdnest coral is extremely popular as a nautical-themed wedding centerpiece. Small black or red seafans and a few starfish with each coral complete the look. Birdnest coral is a great shipper, but a few needles will break off during transit no matter how well it is packed. This doesn't affect the way the coral looks.

Branch coral is a moderately lightweight type of coral that can be brittle at times. It has an open structure that resembles the branches of a tree. The branches can be as large as 3/4" or more in diameter, and color ranges from white to off-white. This coral makes an excellent table center piece, especially if the piece has numerous branches. Branch coral is also very popular in larger saltwater aquariums as a decoration. (Remember that all natural coral will break down in fresh water, so natural decorative corals are only suitable for saltwater aquariums.) Branch corals are excellent shippers!

Blueridge coral is a solid, heavy coral that is naturally blue in color. While these pieces may have some delicate projections, they are strong and sturdy in general which makes them suitable for use as building blocks or bases of large coral displays. They are handsome enough for display as focal pieces as well, especially when placed with delicate white branch, lace, or birdnest corals.

Green Fire coral is another solid, heavy coral that is very similar to blueridge in shape, but comes in a natural bright lime-green color.

Elkhorn coral is a another solid coral that is more delicate than the heavy blueridge and catpaw types. The protrusions on this coral are rounded, suggesting the horns of an animal. The unique combination of solid, rounded form with delicate protrusions makes Elkhorn a perfect companion piece to display with both bold, heavy corals or delicate, lacy species.

Lace Corals are one of the most popular decorative corals. They live up to their names with fine intertwining branches. Many lace are white/offwhite; a few have natural rusty brown accents deep in the stems. Lace corals tend to be small compared to branch or poca coral, but they make up for it with delicate, detailed style. Generally compact and rounded in shape, they make excellent counterpoints when displayed with bolder elkhorn, branch, or poca corals.