Those born in June are lucky enough to have 3 birthstones; pearl, moonstone and alexandrite. They are all unusual and have interesting stories.
Pearls are unique because they are not found deep within the earth but are created by living sea creatures: oysters and clams. A pearl is formed when a small fragment of rock, a grain of sand or parasite enters an oyster or clam. This irritates the mollusc and causes it to coat the foreign body with layers of shell material. Naturally formed pearls are rare, expensive and so generally not available on the market.
Cultured pearls are created when humans introduce a foreign body to the oyster. Freshwater pearls with a pink, lavender and apricot hue are the most affordable.
In contrast, pearls grown in the south seas for up to 3 years, are the most luxurious due, to their silky shine.
The black-lipped oyster of Polynesia grows silvery grey and black pearls. Other pearls are produced in the salt-waters of China and Japan.
The pearl is officially the world’s oldest gem. A fragment of pearl was found in the 420 BC tomb of a Persian princess. In 4th century Egypt, pearls were used as decorations. Native American mythology tells that pearls were believed to be dewdrops of heaven that had fallen into the sea.
Indian warriors encrusted their swords with pearls to remind them of the tears and sorrow that war brings.
Until the 17th century, pearls were also used in European medicine. Modern Chinese medicine still uses ground pearls to empower and give longevity.
The Romans thought the moonstone was formed out of slivers of moonlight. They believed it gave harmony and peace and even contained Diana, goddess of the moon, within it. The moonstone is made up of 3 layers that give it an attractive sheen. It ranges from being colourless to white, grey, brown, orange, yellow or peach. Its colour is believed to change with the phases of the moon. Superstition states that during a full moon, a man can predict the future if he places a moonstone under his tongue.
The finest moonstones are mined in Burma.
In India it is regarded as a very sacred stone and displayed on a yellow cloth, also a powerful colour.
The moonstone was popular 100 years ago when Rene Lalique used it in his jewellery and ornaments.
This stone was originally found in an Emerald mine near Russia’s Ural mountains. It was discovered on the day in 1839 when Tsar Alexander II came of age and so it was named after him. It soon became the national stone of Russia because it reflected the country’s colours of red and green. Alexandrite is found in traditional Russian and Victorian jewellery.
In 1987, Alexandrite was discovered in Brazil and most recently in Sri Lanka. This has sparked new interest in the stone. It is an extraordinary colour, changing according to the light. In daylight it is green, changing to red in darker light. It can be waxed or oiled to improve appearance, sometimes fissures are filled as well.
Alexandrite is said to bring creativity, intuition and imagination to the wearer.
If you have a June birthday, you have the choice of three quirky birthstones to wear.