June, A Three Birthstone Month ~ by Grace Augustine

June babies are lucky. They have a choice of birthstones in today’s society. Traditionally, the pearl is known as June’s gemstone. In later years moonstone and Alexandrite were added. One theory for that is because of the zodiac sign of Gemini which encompasses a part of the month. Another theory is that other stones were chosen because of the rarity of the birthstone.

The Pearl
“Ancients from the Middle East believed that pearls were teardrops
Photo courtesy DepositPhotos
fallen from heaven. The Chinese fancied that the June birthstone came from the brain of a dragon. Christopher Columbus and his contemporaries thought that mollusks formed pearls from dew drops.”

We all know that pearls grow inside oysters or mollusks. To explain a bit about that…a particle of sand or other medium infiltrates the shell of the oyster/mollusk, which secretes a substance called nacre, and covers the infiltrate. This is how a Natural Pearl is formed. Cultured Pearls are a bit different. A technician places a piece of mantle tissue or a mother of pearl shell bead into the oyster/mollusk and it is again covered with nacre. However, these mollusks/oysters are in “farms” that are taken care of by humans and protected from predators.

A symbol of purity and innocence, the pearl has been given for centuries as gifts at weddings. The beneficial properties of pearls include prosperity, long life, alleviating indigestion, improving eyesight, and quelling depression.

Pearls require special attention when caring for them since they are one of the softest gems we have, coming in at a 2.5-3.0 on the mohs scale. Store your pearls separately from other jewelry so they will not be damaged by metal. Never store them in a plastic bag, and always put on your pearls AFTER use of hairspray and perfumes. They should be cleaned with a soft cloth after each use.

“Moonstone is the best-known gem of the feldspar group of
Photo courtesy Pinterest
minerals. It is renowned for its adularescence, the light that appears to billow across a gemstone, giving it a special glow. The finest moonstones show a blue sheen against a colorless background. This June birthstone has been associated with both the Roman and Greek lunar deities. Hindu mythology claims that it is made of solidified moonbeams. Moonstone is often associated with love, passion and fertility; it is believed to bring great luck.”

The Moonstone was added to the June birthstones during the 60’s flower child movement and again in 1990 during an insurgence of New Age artwork.

Moonstones are found North Carolina, New Mexico, and Virginia, but also in a variety of countries around the world, most notably Sri Lanka and India.

The moonstone isn’t a stable gem, meaning it can crack under pressure. So, no ultrasonic cleaning for this beauty. A light solution of soapy water and a soft brush will suffice then a gentle polishing with a soft cloth.

This gem is named after the young Russian, Alexander II, the heir
Photo courtesy Riddle Jewelry
apparent to the throne in the 1800’s. Alexandrite’s colors are the same as the military of Imperial Russia.

“Alexandrite is the rare variety of the mineral chrysoberyl that changes color in different lighting. Most prized are those alexandrite birthstones that show a vivid green to bluish green in daylight or fluorescent light, and an intense red to purplish red in incandescent light. When certain types of long, thin inclusions are oriented parallel to each other in this June birthstone, they can create another phenomenon, called chatoyancy or the cat’s-eye effect. Few gems are as fascinating – or as stunning – as cat’s-eye alexandrite.” **

Due to mining, the deposits of Alexandrite in the Ural Mountains were depleted. Most of this gem is mined in Brazil, Sri Lanka, and East Africa. It is one of the more expensive colored gems because of its scarcity.

Coming in on the Mohs scale at an 8.5, this gem is fairly hard and because of that is a great choice for an everyday wear. Caring for your Alexandrite is as simple as a swish in warm soapy water and drying with a soft cloth.

To view the other posts in this series or any of my others, please click HERE.

**information in italics is from http://www.gia.edu



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