June is an interesting month for birthstones… there are actually three instead of just one! The birthstones for June are Pearl, Alexandrite and Moonstone.
Pearls have been used in jewelry for hundreds of years. They were one of the favorite gems of the Roman Empire. Pearls are unique because they are the only gems from living sea creatures and require no faceting or polishing to reveal their natural beauty.
Pearls are popular gifts for bridesmaids and graduation.
Ten interesting facts about pearls:
1) Pearls are the only gemstone made by living animals.
2) Harvesting pearls from mollusks does not kill the animals, as they can be re-implanted and used to make more pearls.
3) Saltwater pearls come from oysters, but freshwater pearls usually come from mussels.
4) Pearls take their color from the inside of the shell in which they are growing. They range from white to gold, and from purple to black.
5) Virtually all pearls today are “cultured” or “cultivated”. Harvesting “natural” pearls was compromised by water pollution and tsunamis that made it difficult to leave the oysters safely in the water long enough to grow sizeable pearls.
6) Every pearl is unique. No two are alike, and all have some imperfections.
7) The oldest known pearl jewelry fragment was found in the sarcophagus of a Persian princess who died in 520 BC.
8) Cleopatra won a bet that she could provide Marc Antony with a banquet costing more than the assets of a country. She took off a pearl earring, dissolved it in wine and drank it.
9) Pearl farming is know as “Periculture.”
10) In 1916, Jacques Cartier bought his 5th Avenue store by trading two pearl necklaces for the land.