Mother of Pearl: All About June’s Birthstone

Summer is in full force now that June is here. The days are long and temperatures are high. The summer solstice marks the time the year when daylight is at its longest and nighttime at its shortest. This shift in the season usually means that people tend to spend more time outdoors, and in high spirits.

June babies are extra lucky because they get three birthstones. The three official birthstones are pearl, alexandrite, and moonstone. All three make beautiful additions to jewelry collections, and each has a unique history. Each one has its own special appearance and meaning to the wearer.

Since June is upon us, we thought it might be helpful to shine a spotlight on one of June’s birthstones, specifically, the pearl. 


History of the Pearl


Many people today like pearls because they give those who wear them a “classic” look or an air of sophistication. Perhaps your grandmother or mother passed her string of pearls down to you. Maybe you always adored how classy they made Audrey Hepburn appear. However, pearls have a long history that extends back centuries further than 1950s Hollywood.

Before the early 1900s, when cultivation of pearls became popular, the stone was only found naturally. This made pearls extremely rare and expensive, which, obviously, made them only accessible to the wealthy and noble.

It’s hard to say which ancient peoples were the first to wear and adorn their clothing with the stone. Indian legends were filled with references to pearls. In ancient Egypt, it was said that Cleopatra dissolved a pearl in her cup of wine, and then drank it after wagering Marc Anthony that she could give the most expensive dinner in history.

In China, there are references to pearls starting as early as the 23rd-century in a book, the Shu King. During the first century, B.C. Roman women sewed pearls into gowns and even upholstered couches. So, you can see that the pearl has a long history filled with importance and significance. 


Pearls Today


Pearls were unique as they were the only gem that was found in living sea creatures. Not to mention, after harvesting them from oysters, they required little to no polishing to reveal the pearl’s natural beauty. This definitely added to their appeal and value.

Today, however, many pearls are cultured from fresh water. They still remain a popular choice for jewelry, and many women, as they complement any outfit, from a sharp suit to a casual shirt and jeans. Not to mention, they are found in many shapes that give you a variety that other gems don’t always offer.

Oh, and while you might associate pearls with being a white or creamy shade, there are many more available colors than that! From champagne to chocolate brown, blue to black, and everything in between, you are sure to find a pearl in a shade that complements any skin tone.


June’s Second Stone


The moonstone is a truly remarkable stone that has been a favorite among generations of people. What has made this stone a favorite for centuries is its magical appearance. When held up to the light, the stone shows a shimmery play of color that changes with each movement or glance. This gives an appearance that is similar to moonlight and the way moonbeams shine off of water.

While the moonstone has been a popular choice for jewelry throughout the centuries, starting in ancient Roman and Greek times, in modern times it became widely popular during the Art Nouveau period in Europe, and then the United States.

In ancient Roman times, it was believed that the image of the moon goddess, Diana, could be found in the gem. Historian/scholar/philosopher Pliny believed the moonstone changed in appearance with the phases of the moon. This was a common belief well into the 16th century.

In India, the moonstone is still considered a sacred gem that is thought to bring the owner good fortune. Many will wrap or display the gem in a yellow cloth since yellow is the country’s sacred color.


June’s Third Stone


The alexandrite stone is a truly unique gem that has a chameleon-like effect on its appearance. In the natural light, the viewer will see a mostly green stone, perhaps with a blue or brown tint. However, when artificial light is shone on the gem, the alexandrite turns a deep red/violet color. The unusual stone is rare, often adding to its value. 

A relatively new gem, the alexandrite was first discovered in an emerald mine in Russia, in the 1830s. The gemstone was named after the Russian tsar at the time, Alexander II. Being a relatively new gem, the alexandrite doesn’t have many of the myths, or of the symbolism that surrounds other stones. However, in Russia it is popular, as it holds the country’s national colors – red and green – and is thought to bring Russians good luck.