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The June birthstone

June gets the unique honor of having not one, not two, but THREE birthstones! Learn more about pearl, alexandrite and moonstone.
black pearls

The idea of a different gemstone representing each month of the year dates back to Biblical times. The Jewish historian Josephus made a record of Aaron from the Book of Exodus wearing a breastplate decorated by twelve stones all the way back in the first century. If you've tuned into previous months, you know that Facet dives into each month's birthstone, exploring the origins and mystical properties surrounding the stone. 

June has the special privilege of having three options to assign as its birthstone, and for us to investigate: pearl, alexandrite, and moonstone.

pearl in an oyster shell 1
Pearls of wisdom

Pearls are lustrous dollops, most commonly associated with a creamy white texture casting a sheen in varying hues. However, cultured freshwater pearls can be found in yellow, green, purple, blue, pink, or black, while the rarer black pearls appear green, blue, silver or purple in color. 

If you've found yourself using the proverb "pearls of wisdom", you know it's usually in the context of a particularly sage and wise piece of advice being offered. That's because pearls have been associated with high value and coveted since biblical times - because you wouldn't refer to nuggets of wisdom as "rocks of wisdom," would you?

Natural Luster

Pearls are unique in that they are the only gemstones made by living creatures. According to the American Gem Society, technically any shelled mollusk (such as a pearl oyster or freshwater mussel) can make a pearl but only two groups of bivalve mollusks produce the types of pearls that we associate with fine jewelry.

A fine pearl is one with a natural, reflective luster, showing bits of color and shine the closer you examine it. Today, the harvesting of natural pearls is confined to the Persian Gulf waters near Bahrain, and freshwater pearls come from China. 

Pearl windows bracelet

These delicate round accessories have been adorned for centuries, from ancient Greece where the pearls were thought to be tears from the gods, to the ancient Japanese, who told folktales of pearls coming from mythical creatures such as mermaids and nymphs, all the way to ancient Egyptians, who buried themselves with their prized pearls. 

A symbol of purity and innocence, pearls are worn for all occasions and still highly sought after to this day. 

alexandrite 2
Emerald by day, ruby by night

Unlike pearls, with an origin dating back to 520 B.C., the second June birthstone, alexandrite was discovered in Russian emerald mines in more modern times, around 1834. Legend suggests that its discovery fell on the same day that the future Russian Czar Alexander II came of age, which makes sense, given the stone's name. 

It was first mistook for emerald because of its green color until the stone was held in a different light source and changed to a purplish red, earning the reputation as "emerald by day, ruby by night" and the honor of Imperial Russia's official gemstone (Russia's national colors are green and red). 

Even without knowing anything more about alexandrite, this story suggests something magical about the gemstone - what are the chances that the stone would fall on such an auspicious day and reflect the national colors of the country?!

Chemically Compelling

Alexandrite has a unique and uncommon chemical composition which includes traces of chromium, the same coloring agent found in emerald. Because of its chameleon-like ability to change colors, alexandrite is equally fascinating and extremely rare.

The American Gem Society suggests that alexandrite is practically unaffordable to the general public. Consider this: top-quality Russian alexandrite has sold for as much as $10,000 for one carat. Because of this, most of the original Russian finds are carefully protected behind museum walls or in the private safes of jewelry collectors.

alexandrite 1

Brazil, Sri Lanka, and East Africa are now the main sources for alexandrite but few alexandrite discoveries today can compare to the original Russian ones. 

Alexandrite is believed to foster intuition, creativity, and encourage imagination, bringing prosperity to its wearers. 

moonstone 1
moonstone 3
Phases of the moon

June's third birthstone, moonstone, was named by the Roman natural historian Pliny for just that: its shimmery, milky appearance resembling the different phases of the moon. Ancient civilizations believed that the stone was directly connected to the natural rhythms of the moon, which helps explain why much of its magic ties to lunar mysteries and treating nighttime ailments. The moonstone is purported to treat insomnia and sleepwalking, ward off nightmares, and encourage vivid dreams. 

The moonstone is commonly found from the mineral adularia, named for Mt. Adular in Switzerland which supplied this gem. It is composed of thin layers of feldspar, which scatters light to produce the strangely beautiful and wonderful effect of light flowing through the stone, comparable to the moonlight shining upon a body of water. 

While moonstone ranges from yellow, gray, green, blue, peach, and pink, the finest classical moonstone is transparent with a blue shimmer and hails from Sri Lanka. Moonstones are also found in India, Australia, Myanmar, Madagascar and the United States. Indian gemstones are brown, green or orange in color and are generally more affordable than the blue shimmery ones.

Lunar Magic

In addition to promoting peaceful sleep and dreaming at night, the calming and balancing energies of the moonstone are also tied to natural biological rhythms, making it a fitting crystal for nurturing love and rekindling old passions. 

To honor its celestial ties to the moon, Florida adopted moonstone in 1970 as its official state gem to commemorate the Apollo 11 moon landing. 

Pearl savvy hero
Now what?

So, now that we've gone over the three birthstones, what can we walk away with? 

While alexandrite is fascinating, the chances of affording one of these rare stones is slim, and as such, you're probably better off admiring its beauty from afar! However, if you are as enamored by the history of alexandrite as I am, you may just find yourself researching it until you find one of your own. 

Pearls are my personal favorite - and especially here on Facet, there is no shortage of pearl projects for you to dive into! Become pearl savvy by reading this article with more details on the structure and different types of pearls! All month long, we will be sharing pearl project ideas but you can also just visit this page and scroll down for all the pearl you can handle. 

And moonstone - the beautiful, incomparable moonstone. As I write this, I am wearing a ring which (I believe) to be moonstone and many times, I have been asked if it's a mood ring because of the different colors that refract in the light. If you're lucky, you'll find a classical blue moonstone that has a similar effect on the eyes but you can also opt for the green and brown gemstones of India!

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