June Birthstones: Pearl, Alexandrite, and Moonstone
With the glorious sunshine, luscious green fields and cocktails in the garden, June brings us the fabulous feelings and emotions of summer. Hosting our summer solstice, it’s the first month in the year we can show off our floaty clothes and make the most of the wonderfully long days, warm colours and sunshine. In contrast however, the June birthstones all possess cool tones and icy characteristics which hold a striking difference to the summers warming aura. It is the ying to the yang of the vibrancy of this month, and a somewhat calming balance that we may not have thought we needed.
The first of our birthstones is the pearl, or ‘the gemstone of the sea’, gaining its name from the latin ‘perna’ translating in English to shell. With its pearlescent lustre and an orient colour spectrum varying between white, cream, pink, and black, this gemstone acts as a beautiful transitional jewel due to its soft, shiny exterior. These pearls are produced by bivalve molluscs and are composed of calcium carbonate (aragonite) and are bound by an organic horn substance (conchiolin) that bind the microcrystals together; this is what gives pearls their characteristic lustre. Pearls are fantastic in jewellery due to their incredibly compact nature, which in turn makes them extremely durable and difficult to crush. On the other hand, those pearls which are damaged in harvest can be peeled and used in brooches, earrings or cufflinks as decoration.
Our second birthstone is that of alexandrite, most famously known for its beautiful colour changing properties under different light spectrums. This stone is a part of the Chrysoberyl group and was named after Czar Alexander II who emancipated Russia’s serfs and later assassinated in 1881. Often described as ‘an emerald by day, and ruby by night’, alexandrite possesses a green body in natural light and a light red body in artificial incandescent light. Due to its hardness of 8 ½ on the Mohs scale, this gemstone is incredibly difficult to work with from its susceptibility to breaks. Furthermore, when heat is applied it can affect its colour changing properties. None the less, when worked correctly and carefully, this stone is incredibly beautiful within jewellery and now boasts being the most expensive gemstone on the market at a high-quality cut.
Our last, but not least, birthstone this month is that of the moonstone. This stone is a potassium feldspar species with a white shimmer (adularescence) similar to moonshine, by which is takes its name after. Perhaps the most captivating aspect of adularescence is its appearance of motion; the misty light seems to roll across the gem’s surface as you change the viewing angle. It is particularly sensitive to pressure which can make it difficult to use when making jewellery, however its hypnotic character makes it extremely popular on the market with many moonstone-bearing pieces available on the high street.
BY VICTORIA FLETCHER