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The History Behind the June Birthstone: Pearl

Q Report Team
Updated on March 09, 2023
3 min read

If you were born in June, you are fortunate enough to call a pearl your birthstone––worn by the likes of Coco Chanel, Jackie Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe, pearls became synonymous with glamour and are a wardrobe staple favoured by jewellery enthusiasts and those with timeless style. 


The Meaning and the History of the Pearl

From continent to continent, the essence of the June birthstone, a pearl, varies as much in meaning as it does in colour. To the ancients of the Middle East, pearls were teardrops from heaven. In contrast, the Chinese believed its origin to be the brain of the dragon. 

Traditionally, pearls were given as a wedding gift symbolising their association with purity, humility and innocence. Today the white marble of iridescent lustre is known to originate from oceans, lakes and rivers worldwide and is recognised for its value and beauty.


The Origin of the Word, Pearl

The name "pearl" originates from the Old French word Perle, the Latin Perna meaning "leg," referring to the leg-of-mutton shape found within an open mollusc shell. 


Across the Sea: Where Are Pearls Sourced?

A single pearl in all its glory represents the beauty and diversity of our planet. While pearls were once found in many exotic parts of the world, natural pearlings are now contained within the Persian Gulf near Bahrain. 

Australia, having one of the world's last remaining pearl diving fleets, can still harvest natural pearls directly from the Indian Ocean.

Today, most freshwater cultured pearls are sourced from China. South Sea pearls are cultured along the northwestern coastline of Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia.


5 Facts About Pearls We Bet You Didn't Know

FACT 1: A pearl is the only gemstone created by a living creature––the mollusc. A mollusc will produce a pearl by depositing layers of calcium carbonate around microscopic irritants lodged in its shell. The irritants forming the centre are thought to be grains of sand.

FACT 2: Although any shelled mollusc can technically create a pearl, only two types of bivalve molluscs can create pearls of value in jewellery. This particular type of mollusc uses mother-of-pearl to create the iridescent "nacreous" pearl––a pearl that doesn't require any polishing to reveal its natural lustre.

FACT 3: Natural pearls created in the wild without human interference are considered the rarest and are, therefore, the most expensive. This is because most pearls sold in jewellery stores today have been either cultured or farmed. Farming occurs when a grafted piece of shell or, on occasion, a round bead is implanted into pearl oysters or freshwater pearl mussels.

FACT 4: Pearls are naturally reflective, giving off a creamy white lustre with an iridescent sheen. Cultured freshwater pearls can also be dyed in various colours, including yellow, green, blue, brown, pink, purple and black. Black pearls are so rare in nature that they tend to be cultured. Most aren't black but green, purple, blue or silver.

FACT 5: La Peregrina is the world's most famous natural pearl––a 50.56 carat drop-shaped 25.5mm (1 inch)-long natural pearl discovered in the Gulf of Panama during the 1500s. Worn by kings and queens in paintings, it became a possession of European royalty. In 1969, it was gifted to Elizabeth Taylor by her then-love, Richard Burton. And more recently, in 2011, it was auctioned by Christie's New York set in a Cartier necklace for $11.8 million. 


Pearls Are Precious: Care and Cleaning

The International Gem Society identifies pearls as 2.5 - 4.5 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, making them exceptionally soft gems requiring specialised care. Pearls are sensitive to extreme heat and acidity––calcium carbonate is so susceptible to acid that genuine pearls will dissolve in vinegar.

They should be stored separately from other jewellery items to prevent scratching and maintain their lustre. Similarly, never store your June birthstone in a plastic bag. Plastics are known to emit a chemical that can potentially damage the surface of your pearl.  

As with any precious jewellery, apply perfume, lotions and the like before accessorising. The ideal way to clean your precious pearl is to gently wipe it with a soft, damp cloth after being worn.

Go that extra mile and insure your genuine, high-quality pearl with Q Report. A standalone jewellery insurance policy by Q Report will have you covered regardless of whether your precious pearl is stolen, lost or damaged. 

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