Pearls are the Birthstone for June

Summer’s Almost Here!


I am looking forward to summer and some warm weather! June is generally a typical summer month here.  The traditional June birthstone is the pearl and there’s a wide range of pearl types to choose from.  There are also alternative stones.  Moonstone is the most popular alternative stone, but Chalcedony and Alexandrite are other possible selections.

Since pearls are important for June birthstone gifts and also for June weddings, let’s talk a little about how pearls are created:  a pearl starts when an irritating microscopic object becomes trapped within the soft tissue of a live mollusk. The mollusk creates a pearl sac to seal off the irritation and then secretes multiple layers of nacre (calcium carbonate), that eventually create a pearl   Ideally, pearls are round and smooth, but many other shapes can occur due to the environment in which the pearls develop. Fine quality natural pearls have been highly valued as gemstones for centuries.

The unique luster of pearls depends upon the reflection, refraction, and diffraction of light from the translucent layers. The more numerous the layers in the pearl, the finer the luster. The iridescence that pearls display is caused by the overlapping of one layer on top of the next, which breaks up light falling on the surface.    Pearls vary in color and can be white or with a hint of color ranging from pink to brown or black. The color depends on the type of mollusk and the water where the mollusk lived.

white stick pearl pendant

There are many types of pearls.  Here are some of them:

natural pearls are pearls that occur without any human intervention.  Today a lot of pearls are farm raised – either freshwater or salt water.

cultured pearls are created when a foreign substance is intentionally inserted into a living oyster or mollusk.  Imitation pearls are completely smooth, but natural and cultured pearls are composed of nacre platelets, making either feel slightly gritty.  Many cultured pearls are sold by their trade names:   Akoya, black Tahitian, etc. Tahitian pearls are sometimes called Black pearls.  However, true black pearls are very rarely black: they are usually shades of green, purple, eggplant, blue, grey, silver or peacock

freshwater pearls – pearls which form in fresh water mollusks.

baroque pearls are irregularly shaped, blister pearls arehalf-spherical pearls which grow attached to the inside of the shell, Mabe pearls are cultivated blister pearls.

Keshi pearls are considered a byproduct of the pearl culturing process.   They can be either freshwater or saltwater:  keshi pearls are entirely nacre.

Freshwater pearls can be dyed.   The timing of immersion and the strength of the dye bath are determined by trial and error. RIT dye is very easy to use and comes in a variety of colors which can be mixed together to get even more color variations. Color saturation can be controlled as well, depending on the length of time the pearl is in the dye bath. Basically, the color results that can be achieved are endless!

June is  also a traditional month for weddings and pearl jewelry for the bride and members of the wedding party is always a big favorite.

I’ve recently reintroduced a Wedding Jewelry section on my website.  Currently I have necklaces and earrings and a few tiara styles pictured, but I’ll be expanding this section during 2018.

I create all my jewelry by hand in silver, pearls and gemstones.   I offer made-to-order tiaras and hair ornaments for the bride and also for her attendants.  I have a few examples of pearl and crystal tiara designs on my website – but these styles are really just suggestions.  All hair ornaments are lightweight handcrafted jewelry creations that range from garland-like designs in beads and silver to smaller pieces designed to pin into your hair or anchor your veil.  These hair accessories can be as simple or as elaborate as you desire and I can coordinate designs for a sophisticated “look” for the entire group.

Don’t forget that a small piece of jewelry makes a wonderful gift for bridesmaids and attendants and the mother of the bride would look wonderful in a handcrafted pearl and crystal necklace.