Pearls: An Elegant Birthstone of June,

Pearls: An Elegant Birthstone of June

As summer begins in June, it introduces the world to one of its birthstones: the pearl. Renowned for its timeless elegance and subtle beauty, pearls have adorned royalty and fashion icons for centuries. In this article, another in our series about birthstones, we explore the fascinating journey of pearls, their cultural significance, and their continued allure.

A Journey Through Pearl's History

Unlike other gemstones formed deep within the Earth, pearls are created by living organisms in the ocean. Their history traces back to ancient civilizations where they symbolized purity, wisdom, and wealth. The earliest records of pearl use date back to around 2200 BCE in ancient China, where they were gifted to royalty. Similarly, in ancient Rome, pearls were considered the ultimate symbol of wealth and social status. Cleopatra - though more famously associated with emeralds - is also known for a love of pearls, often adorning herself with extravagant pearl jewellery.

freshwater pearl triple strand necklaceIn the Middle Ages, pearls were so valuable that they were often reserved for the nobility. Laws in Europe restricted the use of pearls to the upper classes, underscoring their high status and desirability.

Prominent Sources of Pearls

Pearls are primarily sourced from oceans, lakes, and rivers around the world. The most coveted pearls are the saltwater varieties, including Akoya, South Sea, and Tahitian pearls. Akoya pearls, known for their high luster and near-perfect round shape, are mostly found in Japan. South Sea pearls, the largest and rarest, come from the waters of Australia, the Philippines, and Indonesia, while Tahitian pearls, famed for their unique dark colors, are sourced from the islands of French Polynesia.

Evaluating Pearl Quality

Evaluating pearls involves considering their luster, surface quality, shape, and size:

  • Luster: The reflection and depth of light on the pearl’s surface.
  • Surface Quality: The presence of blemishes or imperfections.
  • Shape: While perfectly round pearls are the most valued, other shapes like oval, drop, and baroque are also popular.
  • Size: Larger pearls are rarer and more valuable.

Fascinating Facts about Pearls

  • Organic Origin: Pearls are the only gemstones formed within a living organism.
  • Cultural Significance: Pearls symbolize purity, integrity, and loyalty, making them a popular choice for bridal jewellery.
  • Colour Variety: Pearls come in a range of colours, from classic white and cream to exotic black, blue, and green.
  • Historical Importance: The "La Peregrina" pearl, one of the most famous pearls in history, has belonged to European royalty for centuries and was owned by Elizabeth Taylor.
  • Cleopatra's Legendary Feast: Cleopatra, to prove Egypt's wealth, dissolved one of her priceless pearls in vinegar and drank it, showcasing her power and opulence.
  • Pearl as Currency: In ancient Rome, pearls were so highly valued that they were used as currency and offered as tributes to the gods.
  • Pearl Myths: In Hindu mythology, pearls are associated with the moon and were believed to be dewdrops that fell from the heavens into the sea.
  • Pearls in Medicine: During the Middle Ages, ground pearls were used in medicine, believed to cure various ailments and act as an antidote to poison.
  • Largest Pearl: The largest known pearl is the "Giga Pearl," weighing an astonishing 27.65 kilograms (61 pounds). It measures 39.37 cm × 22.86 cm × 20.95 cm and was discovered in the Philippines. This enormous pearl is four times larger than the Pearl of Lao Tzu, previously considered the largest pearl.

Ethical Sourcing and Sustainability

The pearl industry today emphasizes sustainable and ethical practices. Many pearl farms adhere to strict environmental standards to ensure minimal impact on marine ecosystems. Additionally, advancements in pearl farming techniques have increased the availability of high-quality cultured pearls, reducing the reliance on natural pearl harvesting.

Celebrating June Birthdays with Pearls

Pearls make a timeless gift for those born in June. Whether set in necklaces, earrings, or rings, pearls add a touch of sophistication and elegance. Their understated beauty makes them versatile for both everyday wear and special occasions.

Design Your Custom Pearl Jewellery at The Bench Jewellery

At The Bench Jewellery, we celebrate the beauty of pearls by offering custom designs that highlight their unique qualities. Our expert designers in Kamloops, Kelowna, and Chilliwack can help you create a custom piece that captures the essence of June's birthstone, tailored to your personal style.

Explore the elegance of pearls and create your custom pearl jewellery with us today.

Design Your Custom Pearl Jewellery Today