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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...

June Birthstone Info Graphic

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.

South Sea Pearls in a Shell

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?

Bride Wearing Pearl Necklace and Earrings

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"! ​​

Queen Mary I of England Wearing La Peregrina on a Brooch

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.

A selection of Pearl Clip On Earrings

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.

Selection of Moonstone pendants in a window

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?

Serene Image of Mother and Baby

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

Antique Man in the Moon Ring

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 increase fertility, especially if worn during a full moon. And speaking of fertility, that works for plants too! Plant a moonstone in your garden or veggie patch during a full moon for a good harvest.

Moonstone in history

Just as the moon waxes and wanes, so does the popularity of moonstone. Moonstone has been used in jewellery for at least 2000 years, and as an amulet for protection against various dangers even further back than that. It saw a surge in popularity during the Art Nouveau period (1890s - 1910s) when renowned jewellers René Lalique and Tiffany would use moonstone in their jewellery, and again during the hippy movement of the 1960s when moonstone was considered suitably ethereal.

What is Alexandrite?

Alexandrite gemstone showing Pleochroic Effect

Alexandrite is a rare and precious gemstone with an astonishing colour changing property. When viewed in natural daylight, Alexandrite is the bluish green of quality emeralds, but when viewed in incandescent (candle and artificial light) the gemstone is ruby red – an effect called Pleochroism. It's a relatively newly discovered gemstone, having first been found in Russia's Ural Mountains in the early 1830s, and it was named in honour of the heir apparent Tsar Alexander II. Alexandrite has since been discovered in Sri Lanka, India, Madagascar, Brazil, and even in Western Australia, but they are all of a much poor quality than Alexandrite from Russia. Russian Alexandrite can fetch very high prices at auction, especially for large translucent gems. What does alexandrite symbolise?

Alexandrite symbolises confidence, change and transition.

The healing powers of alexandrite*

Being relatively newly discovered, Alexandrite hasn't had a lot of time to display its healing properties yet, but crystal practitioners have used it to treat problems related to the inner ear, lymphatic system, and circulation. It is said that the colour change from blue-green to red is symbolic of the colour change of arterial and veinal blood as it passes through our circulatory system.

Alexandrite Ring

Alexandrite superstitions and beliefs

Alexandrite is thought to bring good luck to anyone who owns it and, let's face it, you'd have to be pretty lucky to have an Alexandrite gem in your collection!

Alexandrite in history

Young Tsar Alexander II in his Red and Green Military Uniform

Alexandrite was discovered in an emerald mine. Legend has it that it was collected along with some emerald gems and believed to be more emerald, right up until the miners lit their campfire at night and saw it change colour to a ruby red! This story is quite possibly myth, but nice all the same.

What we do know as fact is that it was named Alexandrite in 1834 when it was presented to Tsarevitch Alexander on his 16th birthday, and when Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881, the gemstone became synonymous with Russian royalty and was adopted as the Russian Imperial gem. Alexandrite was also associated with the Russian military, whose colours are also red and green. It was only in 1952 that the American Jeweller's Associations added Alexandrite to the birthstone list, bestowing it upon the lucky people born in June. *NOTE: Any medical 'advice' contained in these articles is not to be taken as proven. It is merely based on historic superstition and belief. If you are suffering any worrying symptoms, please seek the help of your doctor or trained medical professional before seeking the help of a gemstone!

Were you born in June? People born in June are ruled by the planet Mercury, and are fun-loving, intelligent and gregarious, though they do tend to lack concentration and focus and change their minds frequently about who they want to be and what they want to do. Well with so many choices it's hard to stick to a decision! June people are chameleons, able to change the colours of their personality to match their company. Their intuition and ability to read the moods of others makes them extremely popular and attractive to be around. They're also a little kooky and great at entertaining. Does that sound like you?

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Next week: "Gemology: Gemstones beginning with O..."


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