The birthstone of June is pearl. The captivating gemstone originates from rivers, lakes and oceans all around the world. Their timeless natural beauty has become a jewellery staple over the course of several hundreds of years. Pearls are the only gemstones in the world that are created by living organisms. Pearls are adorned with a history full of romance and legend.
Creation of Pearls
Pearls are grown inside the tissue of a living freshwater or saltwater mollusc. They can be natural or cultured. Natural pearls are created when the mollusc stows a substance called nacre around an irritant such as a parasite or a grain of sand that enters its shell. It is the nacre’s lustre that gives pearls their characteristic beauty. They are soft and fragile gemstones, only 2.5 – 4.5 on the Mohs Scale of gem hardness. They are also quite sensitive to acidity and heat.
Cultured pearls are a result of human intervention. A piece of mantle tissue from a donor mollusc is implanted into the freshwater mollusc’s shell, or with saltwater molluscs a mother-of-pearl shell bead is planted. The mollusc will go through the process of covering the irritant with nacre, just like with a natural pearl. This process occurs in a pearl farm, where the molluscs are cleaned and protecting from predators. These pearls are then harvested. They result in stunning pearls in a variety of colours, shapes and sizes. The colours can vary from white to pale pink, brown, purple or black. This depends on the type of mollusc and the type of the water they live in.
The four main types of cultured whole pearls are Akoya, South Sea, Tahitian, and Freshwater. Akoya, South Sea and Tahitian cultured pearls are produced on saltwater pearls farms and the molluscs that produce them are called oysters. In the Japanese language, the common name for the oyster is akoya, so the cultured pearls are also called akoyas. The molluscs that produce freshwater pearls are called mussels. The main producer of these is a mussel that is native to China. China accounts for roughly 10 times more freshwater pearls that all other saltwater and freshwater producers combined. Nowadays cultured pearls hold the lead for pearl sales in the world, ahead of natural pearls.
History of Pearls
There are many different beliefs and stories behind where pearls originally came from. Persian mythology referred to pearls as the “tears of the gods”. Ancient Chinese legend claimed that the pearl was taken from the brain of a dragon. The dragons were believed to be slayed to reclaim the pearls which is symbolic of wisdom. Hindu folklore also told tales that pearls were dewdrops that fell from the moon to the sea.
Cleopatra was famously painted dissolving one of the worlds most priceless pearls in a glass of wine. The Queen of Egypt sat in front of the Roman statesman Mark Anthony holding a pearl between her finger and thumb. According to the legend, when Mark Anthony expressed his shock at the greatness of her banquet, Cleopatra dissolved the priceless pearl in a glass of wine and drank it to demonstrate her indifference to riches.
Spiritual Meanings & Healing Properties
Due to its pale colour and round shape, pearl is associated with the moon and feminine energy. Pearls are known to be peaceful gemstones and are believed to have a calming and centering presence. In ancient times they were used to treat the digestive tract, muscles and the skin. They were also grinded into powder which was used cosmetically in beauty products. This powder was also believed to improve eyesight, ease depression and quiet nervous tremors by Arab physicians in the 19th century.
June birthstones are as varied as they are beautiful. Those born in June will be pleased to know that alongside Pearl, there are two stunning alternative birthstones. Alexandrite and Moonstone are also two birthstones for the month of June.
Alexandrite is a relatively modern gemstone, which was discovered in 1834. It was found in the Emerald mines in the Russian Ural Mountains. It is a rare kind of Chrysoberyl that changes colour from green-blue to purple-red. It has been described as being Emerald by day and Ruby by night. The gemstone has a hardness of 8.5 on the Mohs Scale. Due to it being very scarce it is more valuable than many gemstones including Rubies and Diamonds. This rare gemstone is said to bring good fortune to its owner.
Moonstone is also an alternative birthstone of June, who gained it name from a Roman natural historian. They wrote that the gemstone changed appearance with the phases of the moon. The finest moonstones appear to have a blue sheen across a colourless background. It is said to be associated with the Greek and Roman lunar gods, while Hindu mythology believed that moonstone is made from solidified moonbeams. Similarly to pearls, this gemstone is also associated with new beginnings and feminine energies. It is also believed to bring great luck to its owner.
One of the main reasons that June has three birthstones is due to the fact that some of the older stones are becoming increasingly rare. This makes mining them very difficult and less common, therefore the customer demand cannot be met. With all three birthstones for June in mind you can choose the one that best suits you as a person or the person you are gifting them to. We always recommend wearing a gemstone that you feel a connection to despite what your birthstone is.
Explore our full gemstone range below.