June feels like it’s the official start to the summer - picnics, making plans with friends and family, planning long vacations, and trips to the beach. If you’re celebrating a birthday or anniversary in June, buy yourself something to celebrate! June is a special month - it has three official birthstones! The three birthstones of June are pearl, moonstone, and alexandrite. You can find some incredible pieces right here in Vanscoy, Maurer & Bash Diamond Jewelers in Lancaster, PA featuring these birthstones.
A perfect birthstone for the first month of summer, pearls come from the ocean and can be a reminder of beautiful, clear water. What many people don’t realize is that pearls also come from lakes and rivers! For thousands of years, people have harvested pearls from oysters and mussels and they have been coveted all over the world. Many myths surround pearls, such as the belief that they’re teardrops from heaven or originate from a dragon. The truth is that pearls are the only gems grown inside a living creature - either a mussel or oyster (known as mollusks). When a piece of sand or some other irritant enters the mollusk, it begins forming a hard shell around the invasive piece to protect itself. Pearls occur naturally, but have been overharvested, so most pearls on the market are now “cultured” pearls, which means they come from a mollusk where an irritant was introduced by humans to start the creation of a pearl. Cultured pearls come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and colors.
Pearls are a very common wedding gift, stemming from the belief that they represent purity and innocence. For many years, it was believed they also led to a long life and prosperity - perfect as a wedding gift!
The ideal environment for creating a pearl, cultured or natural, is in a gorgeous environment with warm water, far from cities and possible pollutants. Pearls can be found all over the world; different types are found in different areas. Akoya cultured farms are primarily in China and Japan, while black Tahitian pearls are cultured in French Polynesia. Natural pearls can still be found in the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, and parts of Mexico and Central America. Unfortunately, these reserves are almost tapped out.
While you can wear pearls any way you want, it’s important to take careful care of them. They only score a 2.5 to a 3.0 on the Mohs scale, so they need to be stored and worn separately from other jewelry to avoid scratching. Always apply skincare products before putting them on and clean them regularly with a soft, damp cloth.
Alexandrite is considered the modern birthstone for June, since it was only discovered in Russia in the 19th century. It’s an incredibly gorgeous gem because it changes color in different lights. The gemstones often show a vivid bluish green color in some lighting, but then appear purplish red in others. When it was discovered in Russia, it was named for the heir to the throne, Alexander II.
The stores of alexandrite in the Ural Mountains in Russia have mostly been mined, so most natural alexandrite comes from Brazil, Sri Lanka, and East Africa. The gems we’re seeing mined today are often not as stunning as the alexandrite found in Russia, which makes those the rarest and most expensive.
Unlike pearl, alexandrite is fairly hard and gets an 8.5 on the Mohs scale. It’s also pretty tough, so it’s much harder to crack than other gemstones. This toughness makes it perfect to feature in rings. These gems are stunning when seen up close, though they’re often more expensive than pearls or moonstones. However, if you’re looking for a unique gemstone that will hold up well for daily wear, alexandrite is a wonderful option.
In ancient Rome, people believed that the moonstone was actually crystalized moonlight, which is where its name originated from. The gemstone is considered very feminine and believed to bring love and good luck. After ancient history, it wasn’t until the last 100 years or so that moonstone made a comeback.
Moonstone is believed to have healing properties and is associated with water and calm. It’s often confused with opalite, even though the two are quite different. Opalite is manmade and completely synthetic, made to look like opal and moonstone. You’ll most often see moonstone in a blue hue, but they come in a wide array of colors, including yellow, pink, and cream.
It’s fairly easy for moonstone to be cut into faceted shapes or carved into different images and symbols. This gem is mined all over the world, but most moonstones come from India. Moonstone is a great option for creating unique, beautiful pieces of jewelry.
If you want a piece of jewelry that features any of these gorgeous gemstones, Vanscoy, Maurer & Bash can help! Stop by our store or call us at 717-299-4283 with any questions.