Pearls: The June Birthstone
Versatile and traditional, June's lustrous birthstone adds a touch of class to formal fashion and casual attire. Featured in jewelry for millennia, pearls have long been regarded as both classic and contemporary. Read on to learn all you need to know about one of nature’s most miraculous gems, from their incredible origins to their popular use in fine jewelry.
How Are Pearls Formed?
Pearls develop when tiny particles enter a species of mussel, clam or oyster. As a natural defense against the irritant, the mollusk will secrete a nacre fluid that surrounds the irritant. As the particle is layered over a long period of time, a pearl will sometimes form. In natural pearls, the process happens organically. In cultured pearls, humans begin the process by inserting a bead or tissue into the mollusk.
Known as “mother of pearl,” the natural nacre substance is what gives pearls their compelling, reflective appearance. For both cultured and natural pearls, nacre quality dictates the quality of the luster, which is key to determining both beauty and value. Ideally, the surface of a jewelry-grade pearl will be smooth and free of marks, while the shape could be oval, round or pear-shaped. Misshapen pearls, known as baroque pearls, are also seen in some jewelry pieces that have their own uniquely compelling style.
Timeless and Versatile
Pearls have long been symbolic of wisdom gained through experience. The gems are thought to offer protection, while also attracting wealth and good luck. Well-known for their calming effects, pearls were traditionally associated with purity. These days, women of every age wear the gems as a symbol of prestige, confidence and personal strength. From fashion to politics to the Hollywood big screen, countless noteworthy people embrace the rare allure and iridescent color of beautiful pearl jewelry.
June birthstones define elegance and sophistication, whatever the occasion or setting. That said, they also bring a diversity of options that complement a range of styles. Pearls come in various hues including white, white rose, black, gold, pink or silver. They can even have secondary overtones of green, rose or blue.
Classic, creamy pearls add significance to an ensemble, while lovely rose options provide a muted burst of pretty color. Dark Tahitian pearls shimmer with mystery while bringing an intriguing element to both traditional and avant-garde evening wear.
Types of Pearls
While there are many different kinds of pearls, the five main types include White South Sea pearls, Akoya cultured pearls, Golden South Sea pearls, Freshwater pearls and Tahitian pearls.
Extremely rare, natural pearls were historically found mostly in the Persian Gulf; unfortunately, most have been harvested, making them especially rare and expensive.
Cultured pearls are grown with the help of humans in special pearl farms. Through a delicate procedure, technicians implant a bead and return the mollusk to the water. They then care for the creature while a pearl forms. The process sounds simple, but it can be difficult. In fact, over 10,000 cultured pearls may have to be sorted before a single 16-inch strand of matching pearls is assembled.
Saltwater pearls include the famous Akoya cultured pearls found in Chinese and Japanese waters. They vary in size from the very small 2mm to the very rare 10mm. They are also typically round in shape and cream or white in color.
Indonesia, Australia and the Philippines generally produce the saltwater South Sea pearl, the biggest of all the pearls. These range from 9mm to 20mm in size and can be cream, white or golden-hued in color. Silver-lipped pearl oysters generally produce pearls in the white, silver and aqua overtones. Gold-lipped oysters produce cream, champagne and deeper-gold varieties.
Despite the name, Tahitian pearls aren’t exclusive to Tahiti; in reality, they are grown in several of the small islands of French Polynesia, which include Tahiti. Their sizes range from 8mm to 16mm. Often called black pearls, these beautiful natural creations can also come in gray, green, blue and purple.
Farmed in freshwater ponds, rivers and lakes, freshwater pearls are primarily sourced from China and Japan. Although many resemble the Akoya pearls in size, color and shape, they can also be produced in other shapes and pastel colors. Since they offer a wider array of sizes, colors and shapes, freshwater pearls are often used in fanciful designer jewelry.
Akoya Cultured Pearls
Extracted from the Akoya oyster, Akoya pearls are saltwater cultured pearls known for their superb luster and perfectly round shape. They are also generally smaller than traditional pearls, ranging from 3mm to 9mm in size.
Adding Pearls to Your Ensemble
Timeless and versatile, pearls go with anything, from elegant soirées and breezy summer looks to your favorite t-shirt and jeans. Experience sophisticated style and effortless elegance with John Atencio’s June birthstone earrings. Pearl bracelets also provide a splash of elegance that blends perfectly with smart, yet relaxed ensembles.
Shop online or visit a local John Atencio store and discover an alluring assortment of pearl jewelry for every style and any occasion.