Meet June’s birthstone: The Pearl
At Orsini we are often asked: what is the birthstone for June? June babies are lucky enough to have the magical pearl as their birthstone, the only gemstones made by living creatures and an incredibly versatile wonder that never fails to charm. Historically, pearls were considered a symbol of wealth and riches until the start of the 20th century, when the world’s first cultured pearl was created. Until then, deep sea divers had to risk their lives to find and retrieve pearl oysters, making them highly prized. Appropriately, the name pearl comes from the Old French perle, from the Latinperna meaning “leg,” referencing the leg-of-mutton shape of an open mollusc shell. Because perfectly round, smooth, natural pearls are so uncommon, the word “pearl” can refer to anything rare and valuable.
How are pearls made?
Pearls are the work of bivalve molluscs, which include oysters, mussels, clams, scallops and more. Molluscs produce pearls by depositing layers of calcium carbonate around microscopic irritants—usually a grain of sand —that get lodged in their shells. To protect their fragile bodies, these bivalves secrete layers of aragonite and conchiolin, the same substances that make up their shell. Together, these secretions form a material called nacre.
Nacre, also known as mother-of-pearl, then forms a layer around the irritant to protect the mollusc. Nacre gives the pearl its lustre and gem-like sheen.
While any shelled mollusc can technically make a pearl, only two groups of bivalve molluscs use mother-of-pearl to create the iridescent “nacreous” pearls that are highly valued for use in creating jewellery. These rare gemstones don’t require any polishing to reveal their naturallustre, and look incredible in any setting.
The rarest and most expensive pearls are natural pearls made in the wild without human interference, butthe majority of pearls available today are cultured or farmed by implanting a grafted piece of shell (and sometimes even a round bead) into pearl oysters or freshwater pearl mussels.
What colours do pearls come in?
As aforementioned, the finest pearls have a naturally reflective lustre, making them appear creamy white with an iridescent sheen that casts many colourful hues. Cultured freshwater pearls however are available in various colours, including pink, blue, purple, brown and black. Black pearls—which are mostly cultured because they are so rare in nature—aren’tactually black but rather green, purple, blue or silver.
Where are the best pearls found?
Pearls used to be found in many parts of the world, but natural pearling is now mainly confined to the Persian Gulf waters near Bahrain. Australia owns one of the world’s last remaining pearl diving fleets, and still harvests natural pearls from the Indian Ocean.
Today, most freshwater cultured pearls come from China, while South Sea pearls are cultured along the north-western coastline of Australia, the Philippines, and Indonesia.
What are the pearl’s spiritual qualities?
In addition to their unique manner of formation, the metaphysical properties of these natural wonders are equally as fascinating. For centuries, people have turned to pearls to heighten intuition, calm and centre themselves. Womenin particular have used the gemstones to connect with their inner femininity, as pearls are said to be a link toa the inner goddess and your own innate healing capabilities.
For physical illnesses, pearls have the reputation of assisting with digestive disorders, heart problems, eye ailments, and improving the skin. Pearls have also been used for centuries to help withfertility, and are thought to help balance all aspects of the body – physical, mental, and emotional.
How do I care for pearl jewellery?
Pearls are very soft, ranging between 2.5 and 4.5 on the Mohs scale. This means they are sensitive to extreme heat and acidity, but fine cultured pearls with thick nacre layers will last for generations if cared for properly. Cultured pearls should be kept free of perfumes, cosmetics, perspiration and dirt as much as possible, and can be gently wiped with a slightly damp cloth after regularwearings.
Many fine cultured pearls are strung on pure silk with knots between each pearl, and over time, this silk can stretch and weaken. If you wear your pearls regularly, we encourage you to have them cleaned and restrung by a trusted professional on an annual basis.
How can I find the pearl setting for me?
If you want to ensure that you get a genuine, high-quality pearl, speak to a highly trainedgenstone expert like the members of our team at Orsini. At Orsini we love sourcing beautiful stones of allkinds, and relish the process of helping our clients to create their dream piece of custom jewellery, especially one with their precious birthstone at its heart.
If you have an idea in mind for a piece of pearl jewellery that you just can’t find or don’t know where to start, we’d love to meet with you and give you an insight into our process and how it can work for you. The Orsini team consists of unabashedly creative and talented jewellery designers, premium emerald graders, gemmologists and master goldsmiths, all trained to create unique pieces of jewellery through every stage of the process, with great precision and finish. We are proud of our creations andteam work, and we would love to work together with you to make your dreams a reality.
Feel free to contact us at any time, or visit us instore at our elegant Parnell atelier, where we invite you to relax while we discuss the seemingly endless possibilities for your bespoke pearl design.