Golden Coral is a league of its own in Natural Coral Variety. It is only available in Hawaii Pacific Ocean and they had been banned from havesting. Because of its rarity, there is a lot of treated coral out in the market that try to imitate golden coral. Cheap porous coral is used and chemical treatment used to add color and then a layer or many layers of laquer applied on the surface to present a glossy finish.
So how do we differentiate between the treated and the untreated ones? A couple methods can be used.
The first will be visual check. As laquer is applied to the treated coral, the glossy finish comes from the layer of laquer. If you observe a treated coral upclose, you will realise that the glossy finish is from a transparent layer on top of the coral face.
The second method is a little more destructive. If you rub a treated coral over a sand paper, you will essentially remove the laquer layer, the glossy finish will be gone and if you try to re-polish the face, you will not get more the glossy finish. However, if you rub a natural coral over the sand paper and then re-polish it, you will still get the glossy finish back.
I have attached two pictures here. Can you tell which is treated and which is untreated?
See the glossy reflection of a transparent layer in the first picture? The first one is treated. The second picture shows an untreated golden coral. It will take some time to enquire the visual skill for this.
There are some on-line sellers selling big bunches of so called “Golden Coral branches” that are basically cedar wood branches sprayed with laquer. So if a seller can offer a bunch of golden coral for $20, be very weary. You are probably just paying $20 for a bunch of wood branches! A bunch of Natural Golden Coral branches would fetch well over $1000 in today’s market as they are just so rare. As this material is no longer in harvest, value will only go up in future. Hope this information helps:)