Pantone Color of the Year 2019: Living Coral

The 2019 Pantone Color of the Year is “Living Coral,” and at Secrète Fine Jewelry in Washington, DC, and Bethesda, MD, we love this happy warm pink hue in jewelry.


Living Coral obviously brings to mind the beautiful jewelry pieces that have been made for millenia out of coral. In fact, according to GIA, coral has been worn in jewelry for over 30,000 years. In addition to the Pantone classic muted red color that was chosen for 2019, coral grows in a range of beautiful colors, from the light peaches-and-cream “Angel’s Skin” to bold black, and deep oxblood red.


The "Allegory of the Treasures of the Sea" is a fun Renaissance take on a naked beach party. The pearls and coral are the only things these party people decided to keep on. Photo credit- Christie's.  

Why we love it:

Coral is an opaque stone with a color that is universally flattering and compliments every skin-tone. It’s smooth, rich composition makes it ideal for beads, bold cabochons, naturally-shaped dangles, and intricate carvings. Coral’s ancient history in jewelry also makes it adaptable to many different styles, so whether your jewelry icon is Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth I, Cher, or Princess Kate, there’s a coral style for you.


What is coral? 
Coral is not a gemstone in the sense that rubies, sapphires, diamonds, amethysts, or topazes are stones-- it’s an organic gem, meaning it grew from a living creature instead of being mined in the ground (other organic gems are pearls from oysters, amber from trees, or bones and horns from animals). Coral is a spineless marine creature that grows in reefs. Because of careless human activity, including over-harvesting, shipping, and pollution, many species of coral are endangered. The coral that is used in jewelry today should comply with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to make sure it didn’t come from an endangered species and that it was harvested responsibly in accordance with international agreements to protect this delicate lifeform.

What should you look for when buying coral?

Some coral has been treated with waxes, dyes, and plastics. Any treatment to coral (or any other treated gem) should be disclosed by your jeweler. Coral is also often faked, unfortunately, with dyed bone or stone or colored glass, or it’s “reconstructed” by gluing little bits of coral together like cardboard. Because of these treatments and imitations of the market, it’s important to go to a trusted jeweler with experience who can assure you that your coral is authentic, natural, and of good quality.

Famous Coral Jewelry


Audrey Hepburn looks cooler than cool in Cartier "coffee bean" earrings in coral, platinum, and diamonds on the cover of Harper's Bazaar in 1956. This iconic moment in coral jewelry looks as relevant today as it did over 60 years ago. Photo Credit-- Bazaar


Reese Witherspoon won the Oscar for Best Actress in 2006 in one of the most classic, iconic Hollywood looks in memory. Her sweet coral earrings were perfect for the occasion-- regal, soft, and elegant. Photo credit- Allure


Brooch in platinum, diamonds, onyx, and coral drop, created by Georges Fouquet, circa 1925. Photo from Art Deco Jewelry by Melissa Gabardi.


This lion bangle by David Webb features coral, gold, emeralds, and diamonds. Designed for Elizabeth Taylor in 1967. Taylor wore this coral bracelet and a matching coral cross brooch for the premier of Dr. Faustus. Photo credit- Vanity Fair.


This portrait by Domenico Ghirlandaio depicts some elegantly layered coral necklaces in 1490 Italy. Photo credit- The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum

Heidi Klum paired statement jewelry in platinum, diamonds, and angel-skin coral from Lorraine Schwartz with her bold red dress for the 2009 Academy Awards. This is one of the top moments in celebrity coral jewelry because of the unexpected combination of such a bold red with the soft pinks of the coral.


This gorgeous coral tiara set in gold with diamonds is an Italian jewelry treasure. Photo credit- Museo del Gioiello di Vicenza


Amal Clooney's coral, onyx, and diamond Cartier earrings from the 2016 Cannes Film Festival were the perfect compliment to her simple, cream-colored gown. Photo credit- Wordpress.


Blake Lively in dramatic coral earrings at the 2016 Met Gala. 


This exquisite beaded coral garment was worn by 19th Century African King , Oba Ovonramwen, whose monarchy was known for his lavish and elaborately designed precious coral jewelry and even clothing. Photo credit- The British Museum

Samara Weaving turned heads at the 2018 Oscars in her bright coral dress with Bvlgari jewelry, including a diamond and coral ring. Photo credit- Daily Mail

Fibula brooch in fluted coral, black enamel, onyx, and diamonds, mounted on gold and platinum. Cartier. 1924. Photo- Sotheby's.


Kate Upton's coral and emerald jewels added a joyful touch to her sexy black lace gown at the 2014 Met Gala. Photo credit- Red Carpet Fashion Awards

Carved coral from the Kochi region of Japan. 

How to care for coral:

Coral is a soft stone, so it should be protected against damage from scratching. Give it a dedicated spot in your jewelry box inside a soft bag so that other gems and metals don’t damage it. It’s also porous, so it’s not suitable for wearing when in a chlorinated swimming pool, in the shower with soaps and astringents, or around harsh cleaning products like ammonia or bleach. To clean it, simply rinse in mild soapy water (we recommend pure, unscented soaps like Dr. Bronner’s Baby soap diluted with lots of water), rinse again in pure water, and dry with a soft cloth.

What other gems can you find in “Living Coral”?

Living Coral is the 2019 color of the year, but there is more than just one way to show it off in jewelry. Consider the coral-like effect of the interplay of yellows and reds in Padpardascha sapphires. Shell cameos feature the orange-creamiscle yumminess of Living Coral. And peachy pink stones from Morganites to topaz and even diamonds can channel the color of the year.

Have Living Coral custom-designed for you:

Whatever your style, taste, or complexion, Living Coral can be a flattering color for you in jewelry. Interested in have a custom-designed piece of jewelry made for you with this gorgeous color of the year? Contact us today or stop by our Bethesda, Maryland, location in the Wildwood Shopping Center or our Washington, DC, location in DuPont CIrcle. Whether you're local to the Washington DC area or located on the other side of the world, our custom designers can work with you (and global shipping services) to delivery the custom creation of your dreams. 

Abigail Bracy