It was widely believed in the sixteenth century that coral could stop wounds from bleeding, cure madness and offer protection against magical enchantments. Travelers carried red or white coral in order to safely cross rivers and quell raging storms. Actual sprigs of coral possessed more power than cut coral, say in jewelry, though children were often given bracelets of coral to safeguard against disaster.

From: The Illustrated Book of Signs & Symbols, 1996