Misty White Sidell, Women’s Wear Daily

Call them the diamonds of the sea. Jewelry made from Mediterranean red coral has found a new, unprecedented level of desirability among Chinese consumers — whose insatiable penchant for the rare marine skeletons and their fortuitous red color has sent their cost skyrocketing by up to 500 percent in the last three years. But a double whammy of human disturbance — direct by overfishing and indirect by climate change — has left the sea’s slow-growing red coral population in a state of decimation.

The CITES induction (to protect red coral) did not pass — a failure that ocean activists blamed on commercial interests. “Italy really pushed the European Union to oppose this listing — they were anxious that high-profit sales to Chinese and others would disappear as a result of international trade restrictions, so the listing did not succeed under this pressure,” said Mark J. Spalding, president of The Ocean Foundation.

Read more about the future of red coral here.