Perhaps the best-loved gems of all time, pearls—natural and cultured—occur in a wide variety of colors. The most familiar are white and cream, but the palette of colors extends to every hue. Natural pearls form around a microscopic irritant in the bodies of certain mollusks. Cultured pearls are the result of the deliberate insertion of a bead or piece of tissue that the mollusk coats with nacre. Fresh Water Pearls are cultured in inland waters and not in the sea. The oldest Pearl was worn in 4300 BC by a Persian Queen. They are considered the bringers of light, beauty and love. They also help you to become aware and conscious of the problems that we carry around with us. Pearls are linked with innocence and helps us to see life through the eyes of compassion.
Pearl is the birthstone for June and the gem of the third and thirtieth anniversaries.
MINERAL: Calcium Carbonate
MOHS HARNESS: 2.5-3.0
People have coveted natural pearls as symbols of wealth and status for thousands of years. A Chinese historian recorded the oldest written mention of natural pearls in 2206 BC. As the centuries progressed toward modern times, desire for natural pearls remained strong. Members of royal families as well as wealthy citizens in Asia, Europe, and elsewhere treasured natural pearls and passed them from generation to generation.
From those ancient times until the discovery of the New World in 1492, some of the outstanding sources of natural pearls were the Persian Gulf, the waters of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Chinese rivers and lakes, and the rivers of Europe.
During Christopher Columbus’s third (1498) and fourth (1502) voyages to the New World, he repeatedly encountered native people adorned with natural pearls. His discovery of natural pearl sources in the waters of present-day Venezuela and Panama intensified demand in Europe. However, within a hundred years, these natural pearl sources had declined due to overfishing, pearl culturing, plastic buttons, and oil drilling.
The first steps toward pearl culturing occurred hundreds of years ago in China, and Japanese pioneers successfully produced whole cultured pearls around the beginning of the twentieth century. These became commercially important in the 1920s (about the same time natural pearl production began to decline). From the 1930s through the 1980s, pearl culturing diversified and spread to various countries around the world.
Pearls are treasures from the Earth’s ponds, lakes, seas, and oceans, and they’ve always embodied the mystery, power, and life-sustaining nature of water.
The spherical shape of some pearls led many cultures to associate this gem with the moon. In ancient China, pearls were believed to guarantee protection from fire and fire-breathing dragons. In Europe, they symbolized modesty, chastity, and purity.
THE HEALING POWER OF GEMSTONES
According to folklore and stories throughout history, many gemstones are thought to offer mystic healing to its wearer. So whether shopping for a gift of fine jewelry, or considering a gift for yourself along the way, consider the healing properties of these fine gemstones. Birthday gemstones may not bake your cookies and wrap your gifts for you, but they will make you feel better while doing so.
Emerald Healing Powers – Known for its calming properties, the Pearl is said to aid purity, charity, integrity, truth, and loyalty in its wearer. A symbol of rebirth, is believed to grant the owner foresight, good fortune, and youth. Emerald, derived from the word smaragdus, meaning green in Greek, was mined in Egypt as early as 330 B.C.
SOME MONTHS HAVE MORE THAN ONE GEMSTONE THAT IS USED AS THE BIRTHSTONE
Green in sunlight. Red in lamplight. Color-changing alexandrite is nature’s magic trick.
It’s the color-change variety of the mineral, chrysoberyl. Bluish green in daylight, purplish red under incandescent light; hard and durable. Top quality examples are rare and valuable.
A relatively modern gem, Alexandrite, was first discovered in Russia in 1831 during the reign of its namesake, Czar Alexander II. Due to its rarity, some jewelers stock synthetic versions of this enchanting gemstone. Its color is a lovely green in both daylight and fluorescent light. Often described by gem aficionados as “emerald by day, ruby by night,” alexandrite is the very rare color-change variety of the mineral chrysoberyl. It’s now found in Sri Lanka, East Africa, and Brazil, but fine material is exceptionally rare and valuable.
BIRTHSTONES & ANNIVERSARIES
Alexandrite is a birthstone for June, along with pearl and moonstone. Alexandrite is also the gem for the 55th wedding anniversary.
MOHS HARDNESS: 8.5
A ghostly sheen moves under the surface of this feldspar, like moonlight glowing in water.
Moonstone is believed to be a stone of destiny. It is strongly connected to the moon and the divine feminine, making it a wonderfully helpful stone for women. It is worn to increase fertility and harmonize the mind, providing health and protection. Moonstone helps to align the hormone production, metabolism and reproduction. It allows deep-rooted feelings to energize and come to the forefront. Feldspar prized for its billowy blue adularescence, caused by light scattering from an intergrowth of microscopic, alternating layers. Favored gem of many Art Nouveau jewelry designers.
Moonstone is a variety of the feldspar-group mineral orthoclase. During formation, orthoclase and albite separate into alternating layers. When light falls between these thin layers it is scattered producing the phenomenon called adularescence. Adularescence is the light that appears to billow across a gem. Other feldspar minerals can also show adularescence including labradorite and sanidine.
The third birthstone for June is the Moonstone. It was given its name by the Roman natural historian Pliny, who wrote that moonstone’s appearance altered with the phases of the moon — a belief that held until well after the sixteenth century. A phenomenal gemstone, moonstones show a floating play of light (called adularescence) and sometimes show either a multirayed star or a cat’s eye. Considered a sacred stone in India, moonstones often are displayed on a background of yellow (a sacred color) and are believed to encapsulate within the stone a spirit whose purpose is to bring good fortune. Part of the family of minerals called feldspar, moonstone occurs in many igneous and metamorphic rocks and comes in a variety of colors such as green, blue, peach, and champagne. The most prized moonstones are from Sri Lanka; India, Australia, the United States, Mayanmar, and Madagascar are also sources.
Moonstone is a birthstone for June, along with pearl and alexandrite.
MOHS HARDNESS: 6.0 to 6.5