Precious corals are some of the most valuable livingmarine resources, growing and commercially exploited only in limited areas of the world, namely the Mediterranean Sea and the Northern Pacific Ocean. Their skeleton is formed by calcium carbonate crystallized in the form of calcite whereas their color is because of the presence of partially demethylated polyene pigments. Recently, Pacific corals have been included in the appendix II of CITES list, whileMediterranean corals are still excluded. Different Corallium species of Corallidae family (e.g. Coralliumrubrum, Corallium elatius and Coralliumsecundum) collected from different locations of the Mediterranean Sea and the Pacific Ocean were analyzed by Raman spectroscopy for the characterization of the reddish pigment and by X-ray fluorescence (XRF) for the determination of the chemical composition of their skeletons, in order to obtain molecular and elemental data with two relatively easy and non-destructive techniques, which can be used quite steadily for authentication purposes. Raman analysis demonstrated the presence of specific vibrational bands useful to identify the colored pigments as a mixture involving methylated and demethylated polyenes such as carotenoids and parrodienes, characterized by the presence of ―CH3 groups along the polyene chain. The ratio between the Raman signal and fluorescence background was found to vary as a function of the macroscopic color of the coral, but Raman analyses resulted inadequate for distinguishing between corals having similar color but different origins. On the other side, XRF data provided reliable information for an appropriate separation between Pacific and Mediterranean corals at the elemental level. The results of this study will be of great relevance for the authentication and identification of the origin of corals in trade market by means of completely non-destructive techniques.
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