June's Birthstones – Pearl, Moonstone and Alexandrite
How lucky are you people born in June – you have three birthstones! The pearl, moonstone and alexandrite are all associated with special properties for June babies. Let's investigate what each of June's birthstones means for you. We'll start with the beautiful shimmering pearl...
What is a pearl?
A pearl is an organic gemstone formed inside a mollusc. They can be tiny (seed pearls), irregularly shaped (baroque pearls), perfectly round, varied colours and sizes, and formed in either fresh water or salt water environments. You can learn more about how pearls are formed in our article on how to care for your pearls.
Unlike mineral gemstones that are graded by clarity and carat, pearls are graded by their surface quality and lustre; the natural glow of their smooth outer surface. Most pearls on the market today are cultured (specially produced in pearl farms under controlled conditions) but pearls found in wild caught molluscs are extremely rare and valuable.
You'd have to open hundreds and thousands of wild-caught molluscs to find a pearl, and of those, only around 5% are gem quality!
Did you know: Pearls are the only gemstones made by living creatures.
The largest pearl ever found is the Pearl of Puerto, weighing in at 34kgs! It was found in 2006 by a Filipino fisherman who kept it under his bed for years as a good luck charm, totally unaware of its $100 million value!
What do pearls symbolise?
Pearls symbolise purity and innocence, which is why they're a popular choice for brides. Interestingly, pearls also symbolise tears, which is why some cultures believe that wearing pearls on your wedding day will lead to sorrow. Go figure!
The healing powers of pearls*
Pearls were believed to be a powerful aid to digestion, and there is some merit to this. Pearls are mostly comprised of calcium carbonate, which just happens to be the key ingredient in common antacids. In days of old the less valuable 'uglier' pearls were ground to a powder and dissolved in a weak vinegar solution to treat wind and indigestion. Pearls have been used in traditional Chinese medicines for over 2000 years.
Pearl superstitions and beliefs
If a wife wishes to conceive a child, she should place a pearl under her pillow. In various cultures pearls have been thought to be daughters of the moon, dragon's teeth, and tears of gods. Pearls are thought to protect divers from attack by sea creatures.
Pearls in history
Pearls have been cherished by humans for thousands of years. There's evidence of pearl jewellery being worn by Egyptians over 5000 years ago, and Cleopatra once famously (or allegedly!) dissolved one of her pearl earrings in a cup of vinegar and drank it to prove to Mark Antony that she could "Consume the wealth of a nation"!
One of the most famous pearls in history is La Peregrina, meaning The Wanderer. The beautiful pear shaped pearl, measuring just under 4cm in length and weighing 11.2grams, was found by an African slave in the Gulf of Panama sometime during the early 16th Century. He exchanged the pearl for his freedom, and in 1570 the pearl was sent to King Philip II of Spain who gave it as a gift to Mary I of England when they married. Mary I wore the pearl often until her death in 1558 when it was returned to the Spanish crown. It stayed in Spain for the next 250 years until Napoleon Bonaparte defeated the Spanish in battle and installed his own brother as King of Spain. When the French forces were defeated, Joseph Bonaparte fled Spain with La Peregrina and it eventually ended up with Hamilton Family in England, who owned the pearl until it was sold at auction in 1969. Who bought La Peregrina? None other than Richard Burton as a gift for Elizabeth Taylor! Richard Burton paid $37,000USD for the pearl, and it later sold again as part of Elizabeth Taylor's estate in 2011 for a whopping $11.5million USD! During its 'wandering', La Peregrina has graced the robes of kings and queens, been lost at a ball in Buckingham Palace, down the back of a sofa in Windsor Castle, and chewed by Elizabeth Taylor's puppy – that's quite a journey! You can learn more about La Peregrina here.
What is Moonstone?
Mystical moonstone is a form of the mineral feldspar. It can be translucent, shimmering like a drop of dew, or milky opaque like the moon for which it was named. Moonstone is possessed of a rare phenomenon called Adularescence. Adularescence is almost a trick of the light, occurring when light enters the moonstone and reacts in such a way as to create a shimmer outside the gem, just like the glow of the moon.
Moonstone doesn't always occur in milky whites; just as the moon's colour can vary with atmospheric changes, so does the colour of moonstone gems. Moonstone can also be found in pale yellow, hazy peach like a Blood Moon, bluish grey as if seen through thin cloud, and even a rainbow shimmer like the aurora borealis lights.
Whilst most moonstones are cut and polished en cabochon to highlight the adularescence, they are also soft enough to carve. There have been many examples of skilled lapidaries carving faces into moonstone to represent the Man in the Moon, and other simple symbols.
Moonstones are found in Sri Lanka, India, Burma, Madagascar and Switzerland.
What does moonstone symbolise?
The moonstone symbolises motherhood and serenity. It is also a symbol of hope, for though the moon may wax and wane, and be hidden during the day, it always renews and reveals itself.
The healing powers of moonstone*
It's claimed that wearing moonstone can slow the ageing process and keep one youthful as it's useful for aiding the body to rid itself of toxins.
Moonstone can aid restful sleep and bring pleasant dreams.
Moonstone can help regulate the menstrual cycle, and ease symptoms of menopause.
Moonstone can also help children grow.
Moonstone superstitions and beliefs
Ancient Romans believed that the image of Diana the Hunter, goddess of the moon, was hidden in every moonstone. In India there is a similar belief, with Indians traditionally believing that a lucky spirit lives within every moonstone, bringing good fortune to whoever possesses it. Could this be the Man in the Moon?
*Man in the Moon Moonstone and Pearl Ring image via Pinterest. Original source unknown.
Holding a moonstone in your mouth during a full moon will enable you to divine the future. Wearing moonstone can enhance your intuition.
Moonstone can spark passion and