Photo of Corallium rubrum or red coral used for jewelry in ancient times

Corals and shells are viewed as gems of the sea and traded

During Chinese Emperor Yu reign, a high value was given to abalone shells, red corals and oyster pearls. Coral came from Italy and traded on land along the Silk Roads then. Traded between 100 BC to 1000 AD by sea from the Persian Gulf and between 1000 to 1900 across the Indian Ocean to Central Asia. Some corals were also harvested along the coast of Taiwan, Malaysia and Japan.