This Titanic coal thing has been going on for years now.
I remember when you could buy a small piece of coal in a nice black box, with a certificate of origin from RMS Titanic Inc and IFREMER.
From memory, they had a US Supreme Court order for exclusive salvage rights but were only able to sell coal recovered from the seafloor near the wreck, as opposed to taking it directly from Titanics' bunkers, to sell to private collectors.
Back then, last century in fact, Titanic coal could only be purchased directly from them, so questions of authenticity were largely a moot point.
I'm sure there is diverse opinion on here about the merits, or otherwise, of RMS Titanic Inc and thier activities, but I for one gladly paid to visit their exhibition of recovered items when it visited here.
Today, it seems every second eBay store has 'Titanic coal,' or something like a coin or necklace with said material embedded in it.
As a starting position I agree with Tom on this one.
From a personal perspective I find the idea of a coin, necklace or some other trinket containing Titanic wreckage quite debased and opportunistic.
You wouldn't buy a coin containing concrete dust from the World Trade Center site would you?
The only difference between the two events is the passage of time and the associated loss of a living connection to Titanic, which still remains for 9/11
However, in saying that I also understand many people has a fascination with the wreck and the Titanic story.
I'm happy to admit that I own one of those small black boxes of coal, purchased in my youth, which now sits proudly alongside myriad pieces of original White Star items that I'm lucky enough to own.
For many, the purchase of IFREMER recovered coal represented the only feasible opportunity to acquire something from Titanic.
So I suppose it comes down to personal ethics, authenticity and the reason behind the purchase. The original release of 'Titanic coal,' was quite respectful with funds going in part toward the on-going conservation work of RMS Titanic Inc, but I take the point they were a commercial entity.
Anyway, that's just my five cents worth.
Suffice to say I wont be buying my wife a 'Titanic coal necklace' any time soon.