June’s birthstone is the pearl. Its name comes from the Old French word, “perle” which, oddly, is derived from the Latin word for “leg”—as in “leg-of-lamb.” It is believed that this was a reference to the shape of mollusk shells, where pearls form. Interestingly, pearl is the only birthstone that is not mined from the Earth and instead comes from a living creature! Pearls symbolize purity and loyalty and are believed to bring peace, balance, and protection to its wearer. Here’s some fascinating pearl facts and folklore. We also share two alternative birthstones for the month of June. Read on.
Pearls are naturally formed in mollusks such as clams, oysters, and mussels when an irritant is introduced inside the shell. A common misconception is that a grain of sand begins the formation of a pearl, but the irritant is usually a parasite organism (though it may also be a piece of shell.) The mollusk protects itself by coating the intruder with a protein called conchiolin and a mineral called aragonite. These two substances combined to make “mother-of-pearl” otherwise known as “nacre.” Nacre is also what forms mollusks’ shells. Pearls come in different colors: white, pink, black, and blue. The color of the pearl is determined by the shell color of the mollusk.
How rare are pearls? You could open 10,000 wild oysters and might be lucky to find one pearl! And if that doesn’t dissuade you, from looking for pearls, gem quality pearls are even rarer. Due to this fact, pearl farming is a popular way to supplement the pearl market. Irritants are placed in mollusks by humans and harvested for pearls 18-24 months later. But rest assured, great care is taken to protect the mollusks during harvest.
There is no clear history as to where or when the pearl was discovered. In an ancient Hindu myth, Krishna, the god of love, was the first to discover it. He gave it as gift to his daughter on her wedding day. Perhaps this is why pearls are associated with love and marriage. To this day, it is common for brides to wear pearls on their wedding day. (Superstitions abound! See below.)
Since their discovery, pearls have been associated with wealth and wisdom. In an ancient Egyptian legend, Cleopatra dissolved a pearl in a glass of wine and drank it to win a bet that a nation’s wealth could be consumed in one gulp. The Ancient Romans associated pearls with wealth and wore them to symbolize status. They even enacted laws that forbade anyone outside of royalty from wearing pearls. Ancient Chinese legend also makes a connection between wisdom and wealth with the pearl. Have you ever heard the phrase pearls of wisdom? This saying comes from the belief that dragons held a pearl between their teeth. The warrior who vanquished the dragon would claim the “pearl of wisdom.”
Pearls And The Moon
The pearl has long been thought to symbolize the Moon by many ancient cultures including the ancient Hindus, Greeks, and Romans. The Moon was thought to bring balance and harmony, so the pearl was also thought to possess those properties. In many legends, pearls were believed to attract prosperity, good fortune, and protection. In ancient wars, warriors would wear this gem for protection.
Pearls Bring Tears Superstition
In some cultures, pearls were associated with tears. In ancient Japan, pearls were thought to be the tears of mermaids and nymphs. In ancient Greece, pearls were thought to be the tears of the gods. During the Victorian era, pearls were set in jewelry to represent tears and were worn during times of mourning. It was even said that Adam and Eve cried tears of pearls when they were banished from the Garden of Eden. These myths could have brought about the superstition that “pearls bring tears.” In one of the most widely known gemstone superstitions, it is believed wearing pearls on your wedding day will lead to tears during marriage. Another superstition states, pearls should be given as a gift because buying them for yourself will only bring you tears. (This superstition is also true for buying opals.)
A look at famous pearls throughout time reveals some amazing marvels! The Abernathy Pearl was found by Bill Abernathy in 1967 in Scotland. This pearl is white with pink overtones. It is one of the few freshwater pearls to be spherical and blemish free. The Giga Pearl is currently the largest, non-nacreous pearl in the world. (Non-nacreous means it is composed of calcite rather than aragonite, as mentioned above.) This whooper weighs 61 pounds and was found in Philippines. The Abu Dhabi Pearl, which was found in Abu Dhabi, is one of the oldest pearls ever discovered. This pale pink pearl was discovered in 1992 at a site that dates to late in the Stone Age. Learn more about famous pearls in this video:
Alternate June Birthstones – Alexandrite And Moonstone
Alexandrite and moonstone are two other stones that honor the month of June! Alexandrite is known for its ability to change color depending on the lighting it’s under. Colors range from hues of green to blue and even a purplish-red. Alexandrite was originally discovered in the 1830s in the Ural Mountains of Russia. It is said to bring luck, joy, and intuition to the wearer.
Moonstone is also connected to June. Like the pearl, moonstone is connected to the moon. Moonstone comes in many colors including white, cream, yellow, blue and green. It signifies new beginnings, intuition, and luck. It has been called “the travelers’ stone” because it is thought to bring protection and good luck.
An alternative birthstone for the month of June, moonstone is believed to bring peace, balance, and luck to the wearer.
It has long been used to awaken intuitive abilities including clairvoyance and lucid dreaming.
Known as “the travelers’ stone,” it’s a great gift for someone on the go!
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Good Luck Bracelet
This jade and moonstone bracelet is all about luck!
Jade is believed to bring abundance, luck, and joy. Moonstone is said to increase intuition and bring lucky new beginnings.
Wear one on your wrist or carry it in your pocket as a good luck charm!
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Were you born in June? Had you ever heard of the connection between pearls and the Moon?
Do you believe that pearls bring tears? If so, do you wear moonstone instead?
Let us know in the comments below!
Find out more about other birthstones.
Tamra Albright-Johnson specializes in the unique histories and folklore around rare stones. She owns and operates a custom jewelry shop with her daughter, Kennie, in Iowa.