Priceless Pearl – The June Birthstone

For many years there has been an understanding of pearl as the only gemstone to be created by a living animal - a freshwater mollusc, to be exact – so it's no surprise that it would come with a certain prestige. There have been many different mythical retellings of how this allusive gemstone came to be; ancient tales tell of pearl being formed from teardrops falling from heaven or the mind of a dragon. Regardless of its origin, there is no denying the cultural impact this gemstone has had on our world.

As the birthstone for June, the pearl has been associated with the notion of purity or innocence, which often will play a role in why it is featured as a popular wedding gift; pearl earrings and necklaces have also grown in popularity, being featured as statement pieces even outside of the single month. In 1912, the 'National Association of Jewellers' of America attempted to standardise birthstones, creating what we know now as the 'official' list and is to blame for the reason that the wonderful month of June has two birthstones (pearl and moonstone).

It is imperative that proper steps are taken to care for this wonderful gemstone, as it is much softer when compared to all currently known gemstones. Because of this, you must take care to not store the pearl where it is touching other gemstones or jewellery, in addition to not being kept in any bag that emits chemicals (plastic bags are a notorious example of this). There is also a certain 'ritual' of sorts that must be followed: pearl cannot be worn before applying hair products, makeup, and perfume. This isn't because of some ancient belief, but rather because the chemicals in such products can negatively impact the pearl jewellery, wearing away at it over time and causing it to discolour. Depending on the metals used, different care instructions may need to be upheld or (in some instances) disregarded entirely. An example of such is the care needed for a white gold pendant: this type of metal in jewellery must be cleaned in "a mixture of mild soap and warm water for 20-30 minutes" to remove certain stains. Pearl, when exposed to these same conditions, may become badly tarnished, causing the main gemstone of your lovely pendant to discolour.