Birthstones - June
If you were born in the month of June, you are lucky enough to have three birthstones to call your own. June is one of only three months (the others being August and December) to have three birthstones, giving you a choice of Pearl, Moonstone and Alexandrite to suit your mood or budget.
June is a month for celebrations, be it weddings, anniversaries, graduations or birthdays. And what better way to celebrate than with a June birthstone.
PEARL BIRTHSTONE MEANING & HISTORY
This enchanting June birthstone originates from oceans, lakes and rivers around the world. It is a timeless wardrobe staple, beloved by women of all ages. The origin of pearls fascinated our forebears. Ancients from the Middle East believed that pearls were teardrops fallen from heaven. The Chinese fancied that the June birthstone came from the brain of a dragon. Christopher Columbus and his contemporaries thought that molluscs formed pearls from dew drops.
Pearls are organic gems that grow inside the tissue of a living saltwater or freshwater mollusc (either an oyster or a mussel). Natural pearls form when the mollusc secretes a substance called nacre around an irritant such as a piece of sand or a parasite that has invaded its shell.
Cultured pearls are a product of human intervention. Technicians implant a piece of mantle tissue alone (common for freshwater cultured pearls) or with a mother-of-pearl shell bead (all saltwater) into a host mollusc. The mollusc covers the irritant with nacre, just like a natural pearl.
Cultured pearls are raised in pearl farms – saltwater or freshwater operations where the molluscs are cleaned, protected from predators and eventually harvested. Thousands of years of pearl fishing have decimated the natural pearl beds, so cultured pearls account for the vast majority of pearl sales today. These cultured pearl birthstones come in a dazzling array of sizes, colours and shapes.
Pearls have long been associated with purity, humility and innocence. So it may be said that the meaning of the June birthstone is "sweet simplicity". As such, pearls were traditionally given as a wedding gift.
The pearl birthstone was also thought to have beneficial properties. In the ancient Sanskrit text, the "Atharvaveda", pearls were said to bestow long life and prosperity. In Asia, pearls were believed to help alleviate indigestion and haemorrhages. Some 19th century Arab physicians maintained that pearl powder improved eyesight, quieted nervous tremors and eased depression.
One of the most famous natural pearls is the 50.56 carat (ct) La Peregrina. About the size of a pigeon’s egg, the drop shaped pearl was discovered in the 1500s in the Gulf of Panama. It became a prized possession of European royalty. Richard Burton eventually gifted it to Elizabeth Taylor in 1969. In 2011, Christie’s auctioned the Cartier necklace containing La Peregrina for $11.8 million.
WHERE ARE PEARLS FOUND?
Warm waters… clear skies… dramatic scenery – it sounds like a dream beach holiday, don’t you think? It’s also an accurate description of where you'll often find these pearl birthstones. Pearl-bearing molluscs fail to thrive in polluted waters, so pearl farms are usually located far from civilisation – and often in breathtaking settings.
Saltwater cultured pearls (of which there are three main types) are grown in many areas around the world. China is the dominant source of freshwater cultured pearls.
1 - Akoya pearls are primarily farmed in Japan and China, especially along the southern coasts of Guangdong and Guangxi provinces.
2 - South Sea pearls are farmed from the northern coast of Australia throughout Indonesia to the southern coast of South-East Asia, with large operations in the Philippines as well.
3 - Tahitian pearls are cultured primarily in The Gambier Islands and the Tuamotu Archipelago, both part of French Polynesia.
Natural pearls have been found in the Arabian Gulf (Persian Gulf) for at least 5,000 years, while divers have been recovering the June birthstone from the Red Sea since 300 BCE. The Strait of Mannar has been providing pearls since 2000 BCE. Starting in the 16th century, during Spanish colonial rule, large quantities of pearls were recovered from the waters off Mexico, Central America and what is now Venezuela. Only small quantities of pearls are found in any of these areas today.
PEARL BIRTHSTONE CARE & CLEANING
Pearls are a comparatively soft gem and require special care. Store them separately from other gemstones and metal jewellery to prevent scratching.
Never store your pearl birthstones in a plastic bag — plastic can emit a chemical that will damage their surface.
Always apply perfume, hair products and cosmetics before putting on your pearl jewellery. The best way to clean your June birthstone is using a soft, damp cloth, ideally after each time the pearls are worn.
Today, cultured pearls can be found in a wide variety of shapes, colours and sizes and we invite you to view our own range of new and vintage pearls.
MOONSTONE BIRTHSTONE MEANING & HISTORY
Moonstone is the best-known gem of the feldspar group of minerals. It is renowned for its adularescence, the light that appears to billow across a gemstone, giving it a special glow. The finest moonstones show a blue sheen against a colourless background.
This June birthstone has been associated with both the Roman and Greek lunar deities. Hindu mythology claims that it is made of solidified moonbeams. Moonstone is often associated with love, passion and fertility and is also believed to bring great luck. You can view our small, yet distinctive collection here.
Great designers of the Art Nouveau era (1890s–1910s), such as René Lalique and Louis Comfort Tiffany, featured moonstone in their fine jewellery. Moonstone came to the forefront again during the 1960s “flower child” movement and with New Age designers of the 1990s.
WHERE IS MOONSTONE FOUND?
Moonstone can be found in a wide variety of places. This includes parts of the United States, such as New Mexico, North Carolina and Virginia. The most important world locations for moonstone are India and Sri Lanka, but sources also include Brazil, India, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Myanmar and Tanzania.
MOONSTONE BIRTHSTONE CARE & CLEANING
Moonstone is a 6–6.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness and has poor toughness. It may crack when exposed to high heat. Therefore, ultrasonic and steam cleaners should not be used on your moonstone. The best option for cleaning is warm, soapy water with a soft brush.
THE ALEXANDRITE BIRTHSTONE
ALEXANDRITE MEANING & HISTORY
Alexandrite is the rare variety of the mineral chrysoberyl that changes colour in different lighting. Most prized are those alexandrite birthstones that show a vivid green to bluish green in daylight or fluorescent light, and an intense red to purplish red in incandescent light.
When certain types of long, thin inclusions are oriented parallel to each other they can create another phenomenon, called chatoyancy or the cat’s-eye effect. Few gems are as fascinating – or as stunning – as cat’s-eye alexandrite.
WHERE IS ALEXANDRITE FOUND?
The spectacular Ural Mountain deposits were eventually mined out, and now most alexandrite comes from Brazil, Sri Lanka and East Africa. The newer deposits contain some fine-quality stones, but many display less-precise colour change and muddier hues than the 19th-century Russian alexandrites. Because of its scarcity, especially in larger sizes, fine-quality alexandrite is one of the more expensive coloured gems.
ALEXANDRITE BIRTHSTONE CARE & CLEANING
This June birthstone is relatively hard—8.5 on the Mohs scale. This makes it a good choice for rings and other mountings subject to daily wear. An alexandrite engagement ring would be a unique gift for a bride-to-be born in June. Although it is best to clean your June birthstone in warm, soapy water, ultrasonic and steam cleaners are usually safe as well.