The tradition of birthstones has been around for so long, you could say it’s, um, set in stone. (Really sorry about that, yikes.)
Birthstones have become very popular for gift-givers and gem-lovers for their dazzling array of colors and the personal sentiment they represent. There are 1-3 gemstones representing every month of the year, each with its own history and legends. Birthstones can be found adorning rings, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings.
Behold June’s Birthstone: The Mighty Pearl
What’s In A Name: “Pearl” originates from the Latin word for leg, perna. It’s an imaginative reference to the leg-of-mutton shape of an open mollusk shell.
Some Places Where It’s Found: China, Australia, Philippines, Indonesia
Colors: Iridescent pearls come in soft colors that complement and flatter most complexions, and they are popular for this reason. Colors include a spectrum of neutrals ranging from creamy white to black, all the way to an assortment of hues including pink, yellow, brown, green, purple, blue, and silver.
The Spiritual: Pearls are believed to create a sense of balance and provide emotional healing; and are associated with faithfulness, loyalty, modesty, and purity.
The Physical: Pearls have been used throughout history to help treat the digestive tract, maintain strong bones, and brighten skin in the form of pearl powder.
Ancient Folklore: Greeks believed pearls were tears of the gods. Hindus thought pearls were tears of the moon. Japanese said pearls were created from the tears of mythical creatures like mermaids and nymphs. In China, pearls guaranteed protection from fire and fire-breathing dragons. Others believed golden pearls brought prosperity and luck.
In History: Pearls have long been associated with wealth and status, as well as with brides and weddings. For generations, royal families and the wealthy coveted pearls and passed them down to the next generation. The oldest record dates back to 2206 B.C., found in the writing of a Chinese historian. During the Byzantine Empire, only the emperor was allowed to wear pearls. In the 1890s, Japanese entrepreneur Kokichi Mikimoto successfully created the first cultured pearls.
In Nature: A pearl will form when an irritant gets deep inside the shell of a mollusk. In response, the mollusk coats the irritant with nacre, the shiny substance found on the interior side of its shell. Nacre is created with the mineral aragonite and an organic binder called conchiolin. That is what gives a pearl its surface luster.
Superstitions: The phrase “pearl of wisdom” is often used to describe a wise word or statement. In some cultures, pearls were thought to be bad luck as the gems were stolen from living creatures, but not if given with the meaning of love behind them. Pearls were once used in burials; placed in the mouths of the deceased to assist them on their journey beyond, and also used to decorate burial gifts and clothes.
Care: Pearls should be kept away from sharp or rough objects to avoid scratching. It is best to wipe clean with a damp cloth after wearing and store in a soft pouch or case. Pearl jewelry should be put on last to avoid alcohols and acids in products like perfume and hairspray.
June has alternative birthstones, too!
Alexandrite, a rare variety of the mineral chrysoberyl, is often described as “emerald by day, ruby by night.” The stone changes color depending on the light source. In daylight, it appears as a lovely green or blue-green; under incandescent light, it appears as red or purplish-red.
Moonstone, a variety of the orthoclase feldspar mineral, is associated with love, passion, and fertility, and is thought to bring good luck. During formation, orthoclase and albite separate into alternating layers. When light goes between the layers, it produces a phenomenon called adularescence, which puts off a white reflection on its surface. The moonstone plays a role in many traditional beliefs, but our favorite is the legend that you can see the future if you place a moonstone in your mouth during a full Moon.
Shop June's Birthstone, The Mighty Pearl here.
Shop the rest of our Birthstone collection here.
With info from The Ultimate Guide to Birthstones by Caroline Dweck for The Adventurine