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The Pink Corals of Zlarin

By Anita Palada, Croatian Journey Journal –

In keeping with Greek mythology, pink corals had been made when Perseus beheaded Medusa and threw her head into the ocean. Coated in blood from Medusa’s head, the seaweed on the backside of the ocean became stone and have become the commemorated pink coral.

On the island of Zlarin, within the Adriatic Sea of Croatia, pink corals have at all times had magical energy. Croatian journey author Anita Palada takes us to the underside of the ocean, with Coral Hunter Mirko Milosević, and to the workshop of Coral Jeweller Miro Bešker. Right here, he transforms the unprocessed aquatic gem stones to distinctive and acclaimed items of jewelry. Like a stone carver, Miro senses the power of every uncooked coral and liberates the jewel inside. 

Right here’s the story of The Pink Corals of Zlarin:

Foto by Gojko Vukov Colić


Deep dive for coral harvesting

“Right this moment, I’ll dive as much as 85 m deep, and if crucial a couple of meters deeper,” coral hunter Mirko Milosević thinks out loud whereas strolling in direction of his boat. “Am I capable of harvest coral on the outdated spots, or ought to I’m going and discover the brand new ones? I feel I’ll go to the Kornati Archipelago and Zlarin in the present day, and go to Mažirina and Žirje one of many subsequent” – Mirko decides, lastly turning the bow in direction of the island group of Kornati.

Foto by Gojko Vukov Colić

On the Southern aspect of Kornati, the ocean is useless calm, resembling extra to grease than to water. There isn’t any one round besides a couple of distant sailboats following the wind and a stray seagull cry: peace and silence. Mirko disregards the world that surrounds him; in his thoughts, he’s already on the backside of the ocean, among the many coral colonies.

He will get prepared for yet one more dive. He places on his diving go well with, secures the oxygen bottles on his again and the load belt round his waist. A splash after, and Mirko is already beneath the floor.

His skilled actions take him deeper by the second. 30 m – 40 m – 60 m – 80 m. And there he’s, descending, identical to a sluggish capturing star on an empty sky, after simply 5 minutes to a depth of 85 meters, within the pitch black, surrounded solely by a balloon of sunshine produced by his highly effective scuba diver lamp. He swims among the many corals, which span a number of hundred sq. meters. Right this moment, he gained’t go deeper just like the final time at 118 m, when he broke his file.


Underwater Ecosystem

Foto by Mirela Kelava

Mirko seems to be at his diving laptop; it follows him, measuring each inch of his dive and limiting his time on the ocean flooring. There are solely quarter-hour left for harvesting the corals. He’s cautious to the acute, as a result of ignoring the clock may be deadly at that depth. The thickest coral branches must be harvested rapidly and swiftly, earlier than the decompression dive, which can final two and half hours.

The coral soil is so lovely to see but so difficult to expertise.

Mirko is already aware of the underwater surroundings mendacity on the underside of the Adriatic Sea. The seabed is diversified, lovely, however considerably wild. Completely different organisms cowl it; corals, sponges, seaweed, and different creatures, locked within the everlasting battle for a greater place on the seabed.

Normally, corals develop on the south aspect of the rocks, in holes, sustained by the ocean, which brings them vitamins and plankton within the crystal clear seawater of the Adriatic. Sponges and bivalve mollusks are the coral’s worst enemy, as a result of they attempt to overgrow them, suffocating the colony within the course of and stopping the dear organisms from creating.

The dive involves an finish, and there he’s! Mirko breaches the ocean’s floor carrying round 1,5 kg of valuable corrals in his web.


Safety and sustainability

Foto by Anita Palada

“Corals are a protected species, and the Republic of Croatia strictly regulates fishing,” Mirko tells us; “and so it must be – to guard the underwater world and us divers who fish them. Diving for corals is probably the most tough and harmful type of diving. You understand how harmful it’s, once we coral divers can’t even purchase life insurance coverage from insurance coverage corporations”, explains Mirko, his face nonetheless frowned from the current dive.

“Corals are animals, not vegetation, as many individuals suppose. They stay in communities. Their calcium carbonate skeleton settles and grows, rising coral branches from the bottom. They feed utilizing polyps that seem like flowers. Whereas the polyps are outdoors, coral fields are white, turning pink solely upon their retreat.

I select the branches for jewelry in line with the construction, dimension, and prescribed thickness, not lower than 6-7 mm, taking strict care of the species’ viability. Coral communities should stay various and productive to final sooner or later. It’s necessary if we sooner or later need to present fascinating and acceptable items to jewellers to be fantastically formed,” says Mirko, turning the boat in direction of Zlarin, a small island close to Šibenik, referred to as the Coral Island since historical occasions.


The final coral jeweller of Zlarin

Foto by Gojko Vukov Colić

Mirko’s good friend Miro Bešker processes, grinds, drills and polishes corals within the waterfront store, turning them into distinctive items of fascinating jewelry. Though Zlarin has lengthy been famed for its for corals, Miro Bešker is the final grasp on the island to make jewelry from uncooked corals. “Necklaces, bracelets, brooches, coral rings is his long-standing job and keenness,” says Mirko. “I like to speak to him about work and trade novelties.”

“Miro Bešker is at his work-desk as normal,” Mirko tells me. Clients stroll into the shop, take a look at jewelry, purchase, exit, and Miro doesn’t even discover them. I can see he’s absorbed by the craftsmanship: touching corals, watching them, spinning them underneath his fingers whereas in all probability assessing the form to find out which piece of jewelry they’d finest go well with. Whereas Miro is in his artistic ecstasy, Kristin, his longtime collaborator, is at clients’ service.

Seeing us on the door, he briefly leaves his work and joins us for a small speak about corals and jewelry making.


From Coral to Jewel

Foto by Anita Palada

“Making jewelry is a fragile enterprise. It’s important to really feel the coral at every contact. Once I make jewelry out of thicker elements of coral, I’m in an entire Zen-Way of thinking. These thick items are costly and appreciated. I’m hyper-focused, artistic and cautious in making it, as a result of I’ve to make it look as lovely as doable.
Their worth deserves it. Once I work with metals, gold or silver, I really feel one type of power and fully one other after I work with corals” Miro explains us, drawing us into his coral world.

His ambition is to create unseen, one-of-a-kind items of jewelry; a hoop, a broch, a necklace, continuously trying to find new sources of inspiration. Every bit has its particular power, together with coral. “Generally, inspiration finds me and generally I’ve to attend for days,” he mentioned laughingly. “When my work doesn’t “move,” I depart every part behind and watch for a second of inspiration. Generally, after I’m offended. If it’s steel, I put it within the hearth once more and soften it; if it’s coral, it goes for brand spanking new tearing, grinding, and sharpening. If we’re not in synergy at that second, it’s higher to half for a day or two than to wrestle. Is is identical with a girl,” Miro says, laughing once more.


Inventive inspiration shapes the jewel

Foto by Anita Palada

There are occasions when Miro indulges, working just for himself and his pleasures. “These are creative urges and moments when jewelry virtually creates itself, just like the jewel is already contained in the coral, and I simply take away the superfluous,” he provides jokingly. “No, they don’t at all times should be huge items of jewelry. They are often miniatures. All of it depends upon my present temper and emotions. That’s how artists work; there’s no time or order in our world. When inspiration takes over, I indulge her. It’s all concerning the second. Once I use it, I create a fantastic piece of jewelry; if not, it stays trapped in me.

Whereas he’s working, he by no means thinks about whether or not that piece of jewelry can have industrial worth. It’s purely creating. “Coral leads me in direction of what to make of it. I attempt to depart it as a lot as doable in its unique type. Generally, I have already got a imaginative and prescient of what this piece will finally seem like within the drafting part, however not at all times. Generally it guides me, and it seems what seems to be. It’s typically the very best.” Miro says, he has by no means had a dissatisfied buyer in his lengthy profession, which he regards as a fantastic pleasure and recognition.

Right this moment, many issues are routine, but it surely wasn’t at all times like that. At first, Miro was petrified of destroying one thing. He overcame that concern a very long time in the past, however in the present day he’s in search of new challenges, proclaiming; “What’s an adrenaline-free job? ”


No chemistry. No fakes. Simply nature

Foto by Anita Palada

There’s a protracted strategy to go from uncooked coral to a pleasant piece of jewelry. Uncooked corals are sorted by class, deciding which piece of jewelry they’ll turn out to be. Every a part of the coral array has its function. Fragments of coral must be handled so that there’s as little waste as doable, with a purpose to obtain as a lot worth as doable. For Miro, this isn’t a lot of an issue. As quickly as he takes a bit of uncooked coral in his arms, he is aware of the place it belongs and leaves the aesthetic type to the present creative inspiration.

Miro dreamed about his goldsmith-coral enterprise from a younger age. He ready, little by little, spontaneously, not understanding the place it was taking him. He gave in, permitting his creative soul to wander. And it labored out! Right this moment he maes a residing by doing what he loves most. “The bond between me and my jewelry is indissoluble. And once they depart the shop, a part of me is ceaselessly trapped in them.”

By forming these little coral twigs, “I really feel some particular power flowing by way of my fingers and filling me with pleasure. I can’t watch for a brand new day to daybreak and preserve hanging out with these attention-grabbing sea beings,” Miro beams.
Sharpening is an important and long-lasting stage that lasts as much as a number of days. A number of work is critical to get a pleasant piece of shiny jewelry with pure coloration. First, pure corals are cleaned, and branches are torn to items. Every bit is sanded, formed, drilled, and polished. “When the floor is polished to perfection, the excessive gloss is obtained. There’s no chemistry, no components. Coral colours are totally different, starting from 10 to fifteen shades, from mild to darkish pink,” Miro explains.


Craftsmanship handed down by way of generations

Miro Bešker got here to the island of Zlarin about 20 years in the past. He took over the job from his father-in-law, Vjekoslav Duhović, a wonderful coral artist and well-known jeweller from Cut up. “It is a manufactory enterprise, and, sometimes, it’s a household enterprise. My job was handed to me by my father-in-law. He had religion that I’d proceed his journey. I do my finest, and I imagine that I didn’t and won’t disappoint him. The tangible result’s the patrons who come for jewelry from all around the world.”

Miro is now the one grasp on the island. There have been many events, however they rapidly gave up once they realized how affected person and devoted one needs to be on this line of labor.


Corals for luck

Foto by Anita Palada

Kristin has been promoting the corals Miro makes for 20 years. She was born in Zlarin, and has been bejewelled by corals from beginning. “We, right here on the island, inherit corals from our grandmothers and moms. These beneficial gems are handed down from technology to technology, and are a part of the household treasure. I’m so privileged to work with them.”

Younger ladies on Zlarin are eagerly awaiting the day to get coral jewelry. They typically obtain it as a present already at beginning, at marriage, or another necessary life occasion.
In keeping with the island’s custom, corals are gifted to family members, to carry good luck in life.

I used to be joyful that, by speaking to those fascinating folks, I touched the coral colonies on the backside of the ocean, and loved the divine glow of the pink corals.

Writer: Anota Palada
Transcreation: Sanjin Grandić

About Anita Palada

Anita Palada is a journalist from Croatia,  specialised in journey and tourism. She writes probably the most about her nation Croatia, particularly about totally different picturesque locations alongside the Adriatic coast, like Terra Madre. However not solely from Croatia! She additionally travels, explores, and talks with folks worldwide to convey thrilling tales about attention-grabbing locations, heritage motels, good eating places, conventional meals, and attractive wines, like this text about Croatian Wine. Learn extra on

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