Summer is officially here! Okay, not officially, but almost. Schools are starting to let out, and here in Raleigh, it’s definitely summer dresses and shorts season (hello 96 degree weather). That means it’s time to celebrate all of our June babies!
June’s birthstones are pearl and alexandrite. Now, I’ve known about pearls for years, of course, but I was thrilled to learn more about Alexandrite!
First off, let’s chat pearls. Pearls originate from oceans, lakes, and rivers around the world - perfect for that land mermaid in your life. Pearls are organic gems that grow inside the tissue of a living saltwater or freshwater mollusk - these are called natural pearls. However, over the years with their growing popularity and subsequent rarity, technology has evolved and humans have intervened to create what we call cultured pearls. These pearls occur when technicians implant a special tissue into a mollusk and that mollusk secrets and covers the tissue with a substance called nacre, ultimately creating the gem we know as a pearl. So either way, through nature or science, pearls are a delicate gem.
Pearls have long been associated with purity, humility, and innocence. Traditionally, pearls were given as wedding gifts - a tradition that remains today (I wore pearls on my own wedding day - read the story of those here).
One of the most famous natural pearls is the 50.56 carat La Peregrina, a drop shaped pearl discovered in the 1500s in the Gulf of Panama. It was eventually a gift to Elizabeth Taylor in 1969 from Richard Burton, and then auctioned as part of a Cartier necklace in 2011 for $11.8 million.
Last Fall, I was thrilled to create a custom Family Birthstone Necklace using a pearl to represent one of the family members born in June! It was the perfect complement to the pink tourmalines, amethyst, and diamond.
Due to their delicate nature, pearls are some of the softest gems and require very special care. They scratch easily - ranking only a 2.5-3 out of 10 on the Mohs scale of hardness. Pearl necklaces and earrings can be worn everyday, but for most people, especially anyone who works with their hands, I typically recommend wearing pearl rings and bracelets less often for more special occasions due to their delicacy. Never put your pearls in any jewelry cleaner as it may scratch the surface - clean them with a soft, damp cloth or take them a jewelry for a professional clean.
Alright, now that we’ve fallen in love with the sea’s gem, let’s learn more about alexandrite - a personal new favorite of mine. Alexandrite stones can change color in different lighting, varying from a vivid green to blue in daylight and then an intense red and purple in incandescent light. Sometimes described as “emerald by day, ruby by night.” The stone was first discovered in Russia’s Ural Mountains in 1830 and then named after Czar Alexander II who emancipated Russia’s serfs in 1881.
Alexandrite is relatively hard on the Mohs scale of hardness, ranking at a 8.5 out of 10, so it’s an excellent choice for jewelry worn everyday, especially rings and bracelets. It’s also the gem for the 55th wedding anniversary! Wow, anyone celebrating number 55 this year? What a celebration in its own right!
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