Group of coral pieces: 16th century
© Museum of London
Full image caption
Seven pieces of red coral. Red coral grows in the Mediterranean Sea and regular consignments were imported to England along with other goods from this region such as spices, glass and Italian textiles. Coral was much sought-after, not only for its beauty and colour, but also for its magical properties. Coral beads and jewellery were worn to ward off all manner of ailments and help overcome sorrow and nightmares. A necklace of coral and lodestone was thought to assist in childbirth, and babies' rattles often had coral incorporated into their design.
1501 AD - 1600 AD