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Birthstones for June – Pearl, Moonstone and Alexandrite.

Posted on 31 May 2024

Pearls –

Pearls are hard round organic creations that can be formed within almost any living mollusc; the most common molluscs to form pearls are oysters and muscles.

Pearls can be wild or cultured, they come in different colours, shapes and sizes and have amazing luster.

The Pearl itself is formed within the mollusc, in its soft tissue which is called mantle. It is here that the mollusc produces calcium carbonate, known as nacre, in thin layers to protect itself from an external injury or tiny irritant that has become lodged there.

This builds up over time and a Pearl is formed. Nacre is also formed to produce the shell lining; however this is called Mother of Pearl.

Wild Pearls –

Wild Pearls are very rare; historically hundreds of molluscs would have had to be harvested to find one Wild Pearl, this is the reason Pearls held such high value in the past. Wild Pearls come in different colours; the outer coating of nacre generally ranges from yellow to cream to white, although incredibly rare pink and grey Wild Pearls have been found.

There is aspecific set of accidental conditions required for a Wild Pearl to form. The mollusc needs to have an external injury, or a tiny irritant needs to become lodged in the mantle tissue cells.

The mollusc then starts producing nacre and a Pearl is born. Wild Pearls take a very long time to form, and can come in many shapes and sizes, making the perfectly round ones incredibly valuable.

Wild Pearls can form in freshwater muscles in steams and rivers, and in saltwater oysters in the seas and oceans. Wild Saltwater Pearls tend to be the most rare, they are smoother and rounder than Freshwater Pearls, and typically hold a higher value.

Cultured Pearls –

Cultured Pearls are formed on Pearl Farms, using natural processes combined with human intervention. This is where humans will introduce the molluscs to tiny shell beads as irritants to ensure they produce nacre and form Pearls.

There are two types of Cultured Pearls; Cultured Freshwater Pearls that are formed in mussels, and Cultured Saltwater Pearls that are formed in oysters. Cultured Saltwater Pearls tend to be smooth and round in shape, and Cultured Freshwater Pearls tend to be many different shapes; we call these baroque pearls. Cultured Pearls can be dyed in order to produce different colours; these mainly mimic the natural colours of cream, yellow, pink and grey.

The Pearls that hold the highest values do so because they are very rare; they are created naturally in the wild and are perfectly smooth and round, and have fantastic luster.

The majority of Pearls that are sold today are Cultured Pearls; they are farmed mainly for use in jewellery.

Pearls are also used in fashion and sewn onto clothing, due to their fantastic iridescence and amazing properties they are also used in cosmetics, paint and even medicines.

Pearls have unique iridescence and luster due to their numerous layers of nacre, these multiple translucent layers reflect and refract light as it falls upon the surface of the Pearl.

The size, luster, smooth finish and perfectly rounded shape dictate the value of the Pearl; a large round Pearl with a smooth finish and amazing luster will command a higher price than a smaller baroque shaped Pearl with low luster.

It can be very difficult to tell if a Pearl is wild or cultured, to be sure an x-ray of the pearl can be taken to prove its origin. Cultured Pearls are often started with tiny shell beads that will show up in the center of the Pearl under x-ray, thus proving it is cultured.

Wild Pearls will show concentric rings of nacre throughout the Pearl under x-ray, thus proving it is wild.

Tahitian and South Sea Pearls –

There are different types of Pearls; Tahitian pearls are often referred to as black pearls. They are highly valued because of their rarity and are often shades of purple, blue, grey, green, silver or peacock – a mixture of different shades.

South Sea Pearls are the same colour as their host mollusc and are generally white, cream, silver, gold or pink. South Sea Pearls are the largest and most rare of the cultured pearls, meaning that they tend to hold the highest value.

Care for your Pearls –

Pearls can dissolve in vinegar and acid solutions, for this reason special care should be taken of your Pearls to ensure they are kept away from harsh chemicals. Pearls are relatively soft and can scratch and chip if mistreated.

Pearl jewellery should ideally be stored individually at room temperature in boxes or pouches and not in plastic bags. Pearls should be only cleaned with a soft cloth and never put in an ultrasonic cleaner as this can cause them to shatter.

Pearls should always be the last item you put on, after make up and perfume, and the first item you take off when undressing. Pearls are an organic substance and react well to the natural oils in our skin, wearing them can help improve their luster.

Always have your Pearls restrung every couple of years as the silk thread can wear over time.

Moonstone –


Moonstone is part of the feldspar family, making it a relation of Labradorite and Sunstone.

The name Moonstone originates from its unique ability to diffract light with a pearly,
opalescent characteristic. Moonstone was admired by the Romans and Greeks, as they believed it contained rays of
light from the moon, and associated it with their lunar gods and goddesses.

This effect is caused by a regular microstructure of feldspar layers that diffract the light in a unique way to form this sheen within the gemstone.

When Moonstone is formed deep within the Earth’s crust, it is created from two feldspar minerals; orthoclase and albite, these minerals separate as the gemstone cools, and form two alternate layers that scatter light to produce a unique adularescence effect.

Moonstone is thought to bring natural rhythm and inner balance to its wearer, it is believed to balance hormones in women and can help men who would like to connect emotionally.

Alexandrite –

Alexandrite is chrysoberyl, however it has a unique characteristic where it can change colour in different lights. In natural daylight the stone colour ranges from green to blue, and in artificial or incandescent light the stone colour ranges from red to purple.

This is because chromium present, and it is this element that accounts for this amazing
property.

A chrysoberyl can only be called Alexandrite if it displays this colour change, thus
making Alexandrite exceptionally rare.

The name Alexandrite came from the Russian tsar Alexander II (1818-1881) as the discovery
was made on the day he came of age; the stone was named after him.

Alexandrite is believed to aid the body in restoring its physical energy and is thought to help those who suffer chronic disorders.

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