If you were born in June then you have the good fortune to have your choice of not one, not two, but three birthstones. While alexandrite and moonstone are both gorgeous gemstones, the most popular birthstone for June isn’t a gemstone at all. It’s a pearl!
Found in many different types of water around the world, pearls have fascinated us for centuries. In ancient times in the Middle East pearls were thought to be teardrops from heaven. The Chinese thought that they came from the brain of a dragon, and people in the 15th century thought they were formed from dew drops.
Regardless of how people over time have thought they were created, natural pearls are one of the rarest gems in the world. In fact, less than 1 in every 10,000 wild oysters contain pearls. As they became increasingly popular in the early 20th century, the population of oyster beds in the ocean’s waters became less and less due to overfishing.
Kokichi Mikimoto, the man credited with creating the first cultured pearl, wanted to find a way to develop them in his own oyster beds. He began testing different methods in 1878 and, after almost 20 years of trial and error, he succeeded and received a patent for cultured pearls in 1896. His process made a significant impact in the pearl market as people began choosing these less expensive and more rounded pearls over natural pearls. He was quoted as saying that he wanted to “adorn the necks of all women around the world with pearls.” Many would say that he accomplished that goal. Today an estimated 99% of pearls on the market are cultured pearls.
As a matter of fact when it comes to classics, pearls are right up there with the little black dress. For some women they’re a must have part of their wardrobe. In fact, some of the world's most influential women were huge fans of pearls going back to Queen Mary and Cleopatra.
According to legend, Cleopatra wanted to prove to Mark Anthony that she could host the most expensive dinner in history. At the time, she was known to have owned two of the world’s largest pearls which she wore as earrings. During the dinner in question, she had her servant bring her a very strong vinegar into which she dropped one of the pearls, dissolving it almost instantly. She then drank what can be called the world’s most expensive cocktail. Needless to say she won the bet.
Over the years, pearls have been the primary gift for birthdays, graduations, weddings, and a host of other special occasions. Since there are so many different styles of pearls as well as so many colors, there’s a pearl (theoretically) for everyone.
Metaphysically pearls are known to foster a sense of calmness and bring emotional balance to their wearer. They're also said to improve self-confidence, promote positive energy, and are believed to symbolize purity, clarity, and loyalty.