If you are born in June, you have a special connection with pearls, the only birthstone that comes from a living creature. Pearls have been admired for their beauty and rarity for centuries, and they have many meanings and symbolism across different cultures and times.
How Pearls Are Formed
Pearls are organic gems that grow inside the tissue of a saltwater or freshwater mollusk, such as an oyster or a mussel. When a foreign object, such as a grain of sand or a parasite, enters the mollusk’s shell, it triggers a defense mechanism. The mollusk secretes a substance called nacre, which is a mixture of calcium carbonate and protein, around the irritant. Over time, layers of nacre build up and form a pearl.
Natural pearls are very rare and expensive, as they form by chance in nature. Most pearls sold today are cultured pearls, which are created by human intervention. In cultured pearl farms, technicians implant a piece of mantle tissue or a shell bead into a host mollusk, and then place it back into the water. The mollusk reacts the same way as in nature, and produces a cultured pearl.
Cultured pearls come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and qualities, depending on the type of mollusk, the water conditions, the implantation technique and the culturing period. Some of the most common types of cultured pearls are Akoya, Tahitian, South Sea and Freshwater.
The History and Meaning of Pearls
Pearls have been valued as gemstones since ancient times. They were considered symbols of purity, innocence, wisdom, wealth and power. In ancient Greece, pearls were believed to be the tears of the goddess Aphrodite. In ancient China, pearls were thought to come from the brain of a dragon. In ancient Rome, pearls were a sign of social status and only worn by nobility. In ancient India, pearls were associated with the moon and its cycles.
Pearls have also been used for medicinal purposes in various cultures. In traditional Chinese medicine, pearl powder was used to treat various ailments, such as indigestion, hemorrhages, anxiety and depression. In medieval Europe, pearls were crushed and ingested to cure diseases and enhance beauty.
Pearls have also played important roles in history and art. One of the most famous natural pearls is La Peregrina, which was discovered in Panama in the 16th century and passed through several royal families in Europe. It was later bought by Richard Burton and given to Elizabeth Taylor as a gift. Another famous pearl is La Pelegrina, which was painted by Velazquez in his portrait of Queen Margarita of Spain.
Today, pearls are still regarded as elegant and timeless jewelry pieces that can suit any occasion and style. They are also the traditional gift for weddings and anniversaries. Pearls are said to bring luck, protection and happiness to their wearers.
How to Choose and Care for Pearls
If you are looking for a pearl jewelry piece for yourself or as a gift, there are some factors to consider before making a purchase. These include:
– The type of pearl: Different types of pearls have different characteristics, such as color, luster, shape and size. For example, Akoya pearls are known for their round shape and white color with pink overtones; Tahitian pearls are known for their dark color with green or purple overtones; South Sea pearls are known for their large size and golden or white color; Freshwater pearls are known for their variety of shapes and colors.
– The quality of pearl: The quality of pearls is determined by several criteria, such as nacre thickness, surface quality, shape, color, luster and matching. Nacre thickness refers to how thick the layers of nacre are around the nucleus; thicker nacre means more durability and luster. Surface quality refers to how smooth and clean the pearl’s surface is; fewer blemishes mean higher quality. Shape refers to how round or symmetrical the pearl is; rounder pearls are more valuable than irregular ones. Color refers to the hue and overtone of the pearl; some colors are more rare and desirable than others. Luster refers to how shiny and reflective the pearl is; higher luster means more beauty and value. Matching refers to how well the pearls match each other in terms of size, shape, color and luster; better matching means more harmony and appeal.
– The style of jewelry: Pearls can be made into various types of jewelry pieces, such as earrings, necklaces, bracelets and rings. Depending on your preference and budget, you can choose from different styles of settings, metals and designs. For example, you can choose from stud earrings or drop earrings; single strand necklace or multi-strand necklace; simple bracelet or charm bracelet; solitaire ring or cluster ring.
– The budget: Pearls vary widely in price depending on their type, quality and size. Generally speaking, natural pearls are more expensive than cultured pearls; saltwater pearls are more expensive than freshwater pearls; larger pearls are more expensive than smaller pearls; higher quality pearls are more expensive than lower quality pearls.
Once you have chosen your pearl jewelry piece, you need to take good care of it to maintain its beauty and longevity.
Here are some tips on how to care for your pearls:
– Store your pearls separately from other jewelry pieces in a soft cloth pouch or a lined jewelry box to prevent scratches.
– Avoid exposing your pearls to chemicals such as perfume, hairspray, cosmetics or chlorine as they can damage the nacre.
– Wipe your pearls gently with a soft cloth after each wear to remove any dirt or oil.
– Restring your pearl necklace or bracelet periodically if it is worn frequently to prevent breakage.
– Have your pearls checked by a professional jeweler once a year for any signs of wear or damage.
Pearls are truly remarkable gems that can add elegance and charm to any outfit. Whether you are celebrating your June birthday or looking for a special gift for someone else born in this month,
pearls are an excellent choice that will never go out of style.