June Birthstones: Pearl, Alexandrite and Moonstone

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June Birthstones: Pearl, Alexandrite and Moonstone

June's birthstone Pearl set in stylish earrings with 'Jun' in the backgroundPearl Symbolism and Meaning

A number of cultures believe pearls were created by mythical creatures. Japanese folktales, for example, say they formed from the tears of nymph-like beings or mermaids. Such gems were said to be cursed and that they would only bring sadness to the wearer. However, other traditions associate pearls with teardrops of the gods, claiming the natural gemstone is a symbol of purity and the perfect gift for a bride on her wedding day.

Pearls figure richly in Chinese mythology, particularly around dragons. Legends say that a pearl can protect one against the great beasts, while other stories involve slaying dragons in order to claim the valuable pearls they carried in their mouths. The victor would gain wisdom by winning the pearl in battle.

Additionally, pearls are associated with good health, wealth and even fertility.

Pearl Color

Pearls are the only gemstones that come from living creatures, though most of the ones sold today are cultured rather than harvested wild. Pearls come in many colors, from snow white to midnight black, as well as pink, cream, blue, green and gold. They also come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The quality of the mother-of-pearl (called the nacre) determines the luster, and the best pearls are regularly shaped and free of blemishes.

Pearls are one of the softer stones, ranging between 2.5 and 4.5 on the Mohs hardness scale. That delicacy means they are a better fit for necklaces or earrings since they could be easily damaged in other types of settings.

Pearl ranked on the mohs hardness scale compared to diamonds

Pearl Origins

The oldest known pearl is the Umm Al Quwain Pearl, dated to 7,500 hundred years ago, which was found at a burial site on the Arabian Peninsula. The discovery was made in 2012; before this, the oldest pearl was believed to be about 5,000 years old from Japan. Pearls were first harvested from the Persian Gulf, as well as from Asia and Europe. Today, most gems are cultured, coming from Southeast Asia, Pacific Island countries like Tahiti, Australia, Japan, and others.

The name for pearl originally comes from the Latin word perna and later changed to perle in French. Perna means “leg,” referring to the mutton leg shape of the mollusc bivalve.

Alexandrite: Secondary Birthstone

Alexandrite has a relatively short history, first discovered in the Russian Ural Mountains in the 19th century by a Finnish mineralogist. The gemstone was named after future Tsar Alexander II. It became the official stone of the old Russian empire because the stones can appear green or red, matching the old military colors of the day. Alexandrite nearly vanished as quickly as it appeared, as the Russian mines were quickly exhausted of this rare gem. However, new deposits have been found in Sri Lanka, India and Brazil. They can also be created in a lab.

Alexandrite colors can shift with the light, appearing green in sunlight or red under incandescent light. Other varieties of this valuable gemstone may look yellow, pink or even raspberry depending on the lighting conditions. It is a hard stone, rating 8.5 on the Mohs hardness scale.

Moonstone: Tertiary Birthstone

As the name implies, moonstones are linked to the lunar orb that circles the Earth. It has been revered by many people across the world for thousands of years. Legends from cultures as diverse as ancient India and Rome believed moonstones were formed from moonbeams or moonlight. Hindus associated moonstones with wisdom, while the luminescent gem has also symbolized love and fertility

Moonstone was used in Roman jewelry and examples from Asia go back even further in time. Moonstones can be imbued with many colors. The most common are milky white to bluish-white. They can also appear grey, blue, pink, green, yellow, brown or orange. Sri Lanka and India are important regions for moonstones, with the latter famous for producing gems with a rare blue hue. Moonstones are not particularly hard, sitting around 6.0 to 6.5 on the Mohs hardness scale.

Fun Facts

  • The Hope Pearl is one of the largest pearls ever found in the wild, weighing 450 carats. It was once owned by Henry Philip Hope, the 19th-century Dutch banker better known for the Hope Diamond.
  • British royalty through the centuries have favored pearls. Kate Middleton is the latest royal to adopt the gem as part of her elegant style. She is rarely seen without a set of pearl drop earrings.
  • Synthetic alexandrite has been available on the market since the 1960s.
  • In 1970, moonstone became the official state gem of Florida to commemorate the Apollo 11 moon landing. Ironically, moonstone does not occur in Florida nor is it found on the moon.

Gift Ideas

Inspired by Kate Middleton? Then start with a pair of pearl earrings, such as these opulent South Sea cultured pearl stud earrings.

Journey to Tahiti, where pearls take on darker hues, like in these iridescent black Tahitian pearls enveloped in a sterling silver infinity symbol or these luscious Tahitian pearls accented by petite round brilliant-cut diamonds.

Perhaps no piece of jewelry is more classic and elegant than the pearl necklace. This piece is simple but exquisite: a strand of pearls mounted on 14K white gold. Tahitian pearls display a taste of the exotic in this extraordinary strand necklace.

Pearl bracelets offer an opportunity to show off the variety of colors to be found in this gemstone. Such as in this naturally golden South Sea strand or this multicolored Tahitian bracelet.

Those drawn to the lunar cycle might be interested in the moonstone, which appears lush and powerful in this sterling silver setting with a halo of sparkling, pavé-set white topaz gemstones.

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