June’s birthstone is the luscious pearl and is associated with the 3rd, 12th and 30th wedding anniversaries.
In gemstone lore, the pearl has properties of protection and wisdom, bringing luck in love and dealings with money to the wearer.
Historic legends portray perfect pearls as the lovely tears of the Gods anointed with magical powers.
The Greeks thought pearls had been drops of dew that fell from the moon while oysters opened their shells during the night to catch them by chance.
Natural versus Cultured Pearls
Unlike crystal jewels obtained from mines, pearls are created inside an oyster. The oyster secretes layers of a substance called nacre around an irritant or foreign object inside the shell. After a period of time, (normally many years) a gorgeous pearl is the result.
A pearl created in the natural manner is a rare event and so almost all pearls on the market today are cultivated by man. A bead is added into an oyster or mussel and returned to the water until prepared for harvesting.
Oyster pearls are cultured in saltwater and mussel pearls are cultivated in freshwater. The majority of pearls are produced in Japan, China and the South Pacific and this practice has been going on since the nineteenth century.
The value of pearls are assessed by a number of elements including shape, dimension and color. A smooth iridescent sheen with a rose tint and no flaws existing on the surface will have a better value over an irregular formed pearl with uneven texture.
Simulated pearls are easily distinguished by rubbing it softly against your tooth. If it feels smooth then you can be sure they are artificial. Real pearls will have a gritty surface like fine sandpaper.
Types of Pearls found in Jewelry
There are various types of pearls such as dark-colored pearls from Japan or Tahiti and seed pearls which might be used to sew on clothing. Freshwater pearls have a puffed rice look (typically utilized in necklace strands) and baroque pearls have interesting irregular shapes.
Pearl birthstones are utilized in all forms of jewelry such as pearl earrings, necklaces and rings. Bigger pearls are used as pendants, sometimes surrounded with different precious gems for a more luxurious look. Pearl rings are often set with other crystal gems such as diamonds, emeralds, rubies or sapphires.
Either gold or silver metals are appropriate for pearl settings, although many individuals favor sterling silver as the perfect medium to showcase the soft beauty of the stone.
June Birthstone Alternatives
If you are looking for an alternative to pearls, for example because you would rather wear a ring or dislike the look of pearls, you are in luck. There are three traditional birthstones for June: agates, turquoise and tiger’s eye.
All three of these gemstones are quite cheap, often selling for just a few dollars per carat. The only drawback is that they are all opaque gemstones. So if you are looking for a transparent gemstone you are out of luck, unfortunately.
The Cleaning and Care of Pearl Jewelry
Pearl birthstones are organic and have a low hardness score, thus making them easily scratched. Store pearl jewelry individually to avoid marking and never immerse in harsh chemical compounds or have within range of fragrance or hairspray because the stone is considerably porous and may be stained. To clean pearls, simply wipe with a soft cloth after wearing.
For far more information on pearls take a look at our article Pearls: A Cultured Treasure