Pearl is one of the most beautiful gems extracted delicately from a living mollusk. The features of pearls – such as the lustrous shade, fragile build, and royal feel – are more than enough to spellbound everyone. One couldn’t help but agree with Grace Kelly when she said, “The pearl is the queen of gems and the gem of queens!”
What’s more, it’s one of the three birthstones of June! The association seems apt as the inherently spirited persona of June-born would work exceptionally well with this stone of sincerity.
How Are Pearls Made?
While most gemstones are mined or extracted from rocks, we get pearls from living, breathing marine creatures. The pearls are nothing but a way for these mollusks – oysters or mussels – to protect themselves! When a tiny foreign object enters the shelled body, the creatures secrete layers of crystalline substance and coat that object with it. This coating – called nacre – gives the gem its subtle shimmer.
As easy and quick as this process sounds, it actually takes place over a long time. An average-sized pearl usually develops within six months. As for larger pearls, they take as much as four years to mature. A mollusk usually produces three pearls in its lifetime; natural pearls, therefore, are not only expensive but also quite rare.
This huge rift between the supply and demand of pearls has led people to start pearl farming. Here, we see a foreign object is surgically implanted in the mollusk’s mantle tissue. The creatures are provided with a conducive atmosphere where they can create pearls in peace. The result is smooth, perfectly round cultured pearls, ready to dazzle the world!
Unsurprisingly, farmed pearls are easier to get than natural pearls. But don’t worry! Both types are equally beautiful. It’s the fake pearls one has to look out for.
Types of Cultured Pearls
Cultured pearls come in four different types – Freshwater pearls, Akoya pearls, Tahitian pearls, and South Sea pearls.
1. Freshwater pearls – Freshwater pearls are more commonly harvested than the other types. These are commercial and hence, comparatively affordable. Produced in freshwater lakes and ponds, they are comparably small and have an irregular shape.
2. Akoya Pearls – Akoya pearls are perhaps the most common type of pearls extracted from the Akoya oysters. This saltwater type is set apart by its shimmery quality, perfect roundness, and larger size. Akoya pearls are what we imagine when we think about pearls!
3. Tahitian Pearls – Also known as black pearls, Tahitian pearls are produced on French Polynesian islands near Tahiti. They are extracted from black lip oysters, which gives them their signature black shade. But these gems are available in several colors.
4. South Sea Pearls – These gems shine in the shades of silver, golden, and classic white. They are primarily farmed in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Australia. Sea pearls are one of the rarest types due to their limited production and unique look.
How to Recognize Whether Your Pearls Are Fake or Real?
Fake pearls are artificial beads made from either glass, alabaster, or plastic. They are given a pearly coating to make them appear genuine. In fact, these faux pearls can fool you into believing that they are as authentic as natural or cultured pearls. Therefore, it is crucial to know the tricks helpful to distinguish them.
There are several tell-tale signs to recognize the authentic pearl – irregularities of the gem, traces of different colors, textured surface, the heaviness, and minuscule drill holes. Even though these factors are helpful, it is recommended to visit a professional jeweler to set your doubts aside.
With Gabriel & Co., you need not worry about the authenticity of your pearls. We pride ourselves in using only the best, luminous genuine pearls in our jewelry!
Jewelry Featuring the June Birthstone at Gabriel & Co.
The mesmerizing collection of pearl jewelry at Gabriel & Co. makes one fall even deeper in love with the gemstone. The collection is elegant, classy, and singular – everything a June-born person is! If any of your loved ones are born in June, you must present these enchanting jewelry pieces to them.
This Bujukan Open Bangle is dotted with luminous gold spheres attached together to form the delicate band. Clusters of four luminous pearls adorn both the ends, making it an easy slide on your wrist. The design is so subtle and lovely that June babies who don’t like bangles can flaunt it proudly.
No piece of jewelry can be as dreamy as this Pearl Ring! Sitting on the 14K White gold band is this lustrous pearl, shining as bright as the dynamic personality of the June-born! The little diamond leaves around it accentuate the pearl instead of being distracting. The Pearl Ring has a trendy design, making it appropriate to wear in any setting, formal or casual.
These Pearl and Diamond Leverback Earrings, designed to stay securely on your ears, would soon become your go-to piece of jewelry. A brilliant pearl hangs down from each earring; this subtle look is finished by the row of diamonds descending the 14K White Gold enclosure. Since June-born ladies are said to have an excellent fashion sense, it only makes sense for them to possess these alluring earrings!
The 14K gold chain is styled in the sleek Y knot design, giving it a beautiful touch of elegance. The 14K Yellow Gold Lariat Necklace meets midway and falls into a sleek Y knot design, with tapered o.04ct pave diamond shimmering at the joining point. An ethereal cultured pearl finishes the sophisticated and delicate look! Why go for an ordinary necklace when you can have this pearly beauty?
June birthstone’s Intriguing History
Pearls are officially the oldest gem on earth, first found in a Persian sarcophagus in 420 BC. But the gem’s history starts in 2300 BC when Chinese Royalty would get them as presents.
Alongside China, ancient Rome also regarded pearls as an indicator of your affluent status. The Egyptian Queen Cleopatra was once challenged to host the most extravagant dinner. She actually crushed a priceless pearl, mixed it in her wine, and drank it. It was the boldest and most expensive move as pearls symbolized wealth and luxury.
History shows that the great Julius Caesar gifted his favorite mistress, Servilia, a large black pearl. Called Servilia’s pearl, it is the first individual pearl known to mankind. Caesar was also a pearl connoisseur and passed a law that only the aristocrats could wear it.
With such a refined history, it is no wonder that pearls are still associated with Royalty. To this day, the royal family of England still follows the tradition of gifting pearls on birthdays and other celebrations. In fact, the Queen is never seen without her iconic three-strand pearl necklace and pearl earrings.
Pearls – Symbolism and Meaning
Pearls have the most intriguing symbolism and meaning associated with them. It is said that pearls possess healing powers, and wearing them brings you a sense of safety. Thanks to the tiresome process the mollusks go through to make a pearl, the gem has always been the ultimate symbol of wisdom gained through experience.
Interestingly, pearls are also a symbol of eroticism and purity. As Botticelli shows in his infamous painting, Venus, the Roman goddess of love and eroticism, is seen to be born in the sea like a pearl. However, among Christians, the pearls are considered an indicator of purity. It is astounding to see how a tiny gem could mean so many different things to different people!
For its milky white color, uneven texture, and water origin, pearls are linked to the Moon. Therefore, pearls would make a great gift to the June born who are strongly inclined towards the lunar and the water. And with them being a harbinger of good luck and wealth, nothing could be a better present.
Mythical Stories About Pearls
There are many stories found in world myths about this luminous gemstone. In King James’ version of the Bible, the Gates of Heaven are said to be made of pearls. Another story tells that the tears of Eve turned into white pearls while Adam’s tears resulted in black gems. This might be the reason behind the rarity of black pearls!
In Indian mythology, Lord Krishna is said to have fetched the first pearl out of the sea to gift it to his daughter on her wedding day. Another myth says that Goddess Sita possessed a necklace with 27 rare pearls. She gave it to Lord Hanuman as a reward after the great war between Rama and Ravana.
While Greek mythology tells us that pearls are Aphrodite’s tears of joy, An Arabian legend says that pearls are made when sea oysters swallow the moonlight-filled raindrops. All these myths have definitely given a sacred, ethereal quality to pearls. This quality was bound to translate into the pearl’s royalty status. Therefore, it’s not a surprise to spot the gems in royal families throughout history.
Interesting Facts About June Birthstone, Pearl
1. People in ancient times believed in pearls healing properties superstitiously. Pearls would be crushed and mixed in cosmetics, medicines, and food. These lustrous gems are also believed to be effective on insomnia, epilepsy, and palpitations.
2. Pearl farming is mainly carried out in countries like China, Japan, Indonesia, India, the Philippines, Australia, and the Persian Gulf. In fact, the country island of Bahrain is known as the Island of Pearls. The title was bestowed on the island because of its thriving pearl-farming industry.
3. The record for the biggest-known natural pearl goes to the Pearl of Puerto. It weighs 170,000 carats and is 67 cm long and 30 cm wide. A fisherman in the Philippines found this pearl and then hid it under his bed for almost a decade! It is supposed to cost around $100 million.
4. One of the rarest pearls has to be Melo Melo pearls. What’s so special about it? These pearls are produced not by oysters but by Melo Melo snails. These pearls cannot be cultured, making them extremely valuable.
5. Contrary to the usual belief, pearls are available in several colors – brown, black, pink, green, blue, and even purple. The different colors also symbolize many things. For example, pink pearls embody fame, romance, and success, and purple gems are associated with art, passion, and nobility.
6. Pearls are not always round! Other than spherical, they are found in the shapes of a button, baroque, oval, drop, and semi-round.
7. In 2008, a restaurant owner and his wife in Lebanon found 26 pearls in an oyster! They were having lunch when they discovered the cluster in one of the oysters on their plates. The pearls were not that valuable, but the number of pearls present in one shell is bewildering!
How To Take Care of Your Pearls?
As said at the beginning, pearls are indeed the queens’ gem – and they need proper care. Unlike other gems, pearls are nothing but organic material extracted from living beings (we mean the mollusks!). They rank 2.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, meaning they can easily get scratched or worn down. It is, therefore, imperative to take care of your pearls without harming their delicate, lustrous nature.
Pearl-owners should keep the gems away from heat or chemicals. Use a soft, dry cloth to clean them after use. As for a deep clean-up, wiping the pearls down with soapy water does the trick. Storing your pearls might be tricky, but it’s not impossible! Keeping them in tightly wrapped plastic bags is a big no-no; you can, instead, store them in a cloth-lined jewelry box. Make sure it’s not airtight because pearls are at their peak with some moisture. That is why letting them breathe by frequently wearing them is beneficial. Don’t keep your pearls locked away in a jewelry box forever!
It takes a long time for a pearl to develop fully. Therefore, the golden rule of taking your jewelry to a professional jewelry cleaner applies here twice as intensely. Keep your pearls clean, healthy, and breathing – and you’ll see them brimming with pristine luster forever!