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|Pearl fact file|
|Crystal Structure: orthorhombic |
Chemical Composition: Aragonite ( calcium carbonate ) platelets held together by conchiolin
Hardness: 2.4 – 4.5 MOHs
|Refractive Index: 1.53-1.69|
Colors: white with pink tones, tan, yellow, brown, gray, black with a purple or green luster
Moonstone has for long been accepted as the birthstone of June. In the modern list, it shares this duty with Pearl and Alexandrite.
June birthstones,Pearls, are the only birthstones created by living organisms. When an irritant, such as a piece of grit, enters the body of the shellfish, the animal coats the grit with layers of nacre (aragonite), which is a form of mother-of-pearl, the iridescent surface found inside shells. Pearl is also unique inasmuch as it is
probably the only gem material that can be utilized in jewelry immediately upon finding one. All other gems need to be fashioned and polished, however crudely, before they are set in jewelry. Care of pearls is very important. Pearls can be easily discolored from skin oils. Properly strung pearls will have a knot between each pearl to keep them from rubbing together. The cultured pearl can be damaged by excessive wear that exposes the non-gem nucleus.
Physical and Chemical Properties
Pearl is unique among the birthstones inasmuch as it is of organic origin. All other birthstones are minerals, inorganic solid substances with crystalline structures and fixed chemical compositions that vary only within rigid limits. Pearl are made up of little overlapping platelets of the mineral aragonite, a calcium carbonate that crystallizes in the orthorhombic system. In cross section a pearl will appear to have concentric, smooth layers, but magnification will show these layers have an imbricate (brick wall-like) structure. These tiny plates are held together by an organic cementing agent called conchiolin. The pearl derives its iridescence from the diffraction and interference of white light that is caused by the tiny overlapping platelets of calcium carbonate. The iridescence or orient of the pearl is a function of the numbers and thickness of these platelets. Mother of pearl or nacre forms on the inner walls or inner surfaces of the mollusk shell. Mother of pearl differs from pearl inasmuch as it is part of the mollusk shell whereas the pearl has become a separate entity from the shell.
In America, the most commonly bought pearls are white with pink tones. But pearls may also be tan, yellow, brown, gray, or black with a purple or green luster. The color of this june birthstone depends on the color and chemicals found in the shell of the mollusk.Most pearls are spherical, but irregularly shaped specimens are called “baroque.”
Healing Properties and Interesting Information
Pearl or Moti is used to remove the evil effects of Moon and it strengthens the mind force, increases good sleep and cures insomnia. It also gives better memory, cures uterine disorders, heart and eye troubles, as also is helpful in host of other diseases like TB, constipation, hysteria, pleurisy, etc.
Pearls form in either salt or fresh water environments in several species of bivalves (clams) that are members of the Phylum Mollusca. Fresh water pearls have been found in several species of clams that inhabit rivers in the United States. Most of these have been related to species of Unio and these are now becoming the basis of a fresh water cultured pearl industry in parts of the United States. Until the twentieth century natural forming pearls were highly prized and harvested in the Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean, and Red Sea. In the early 1900s the Japanese perfected a means of creating round and smooth pearls by inserting a piece of nacre or a bit of mantle from a shellfish into an oyster and allowing the pearl to form over three to seven years. These cultured pearls are made primarily in Japan, China, and Australia.
Pearls were exceedingly popular in Roman times and were cherished by Byzantine royalty. Robes and cloaks of the royalty may have been studded with thousands of pearls. Historically most of the pearls that were used in the jewelry trade came from the marine bivalves Pinctada vulgaris and P. margaratifera that were abundant in the Persian Gulf. Chinese legends suggest the pearl is the symbol of wealth, power, and longevity. In classical times, people believed that pearls were formed when moonbeams lit upon shellfish that opened up and received drops of dew. Egyptian Queen Cleopatra favored both emeralds and pearls, and she once purposely dropped a pearl into her drink while dining with Mark Anthony to demonstrate the wealth of her rule. Pearls have a fairly long geologic history—the oldest examples have been recorded from rocks of Triassic age in Hungary and the Cretaceous age in California but all had lost their luster. The oldest pearls with luster have been recorded from rocks of Eocene age in southern England.
Buying and Caring tips
Tips for Buying Pearl Jewelry
The only sure way to separate a natural from a cultured pearl is by X-ray. Rubbing the pearls across the teeth, by candling them, or using tests such as specific gravity can not make such separations. Several factors influence the value of pearl and these include color, luster, iridescence, shape, and size. Large, spherical pearls are the most desired and fine examples can command very high prices.Popularity of pearl colors varies from place to place and culture to culture. Cream rose’ and light rose colors are almost universally liked and pure white or pure yellow pearls are almost universally disliked but the many shades in between enjoy higher or lower status in various places in the world. Oblong, tear drop or flat pearls usually command lower premiums. Semi-translucent pearls with high luster are more desired than opaque pearls with low luster. Orient or iridescence are also very important in grading pearls. Strings of pearls are graded not only on the above criteria but also how well the colors and luster of the individual pearls match in the total piece. Pearl substitutes have been made from various resins and plastics and some are quite attractive though nearly valueless. These usually have a much lower specific gravity than the natural or cultured pearl.
Tips to take care of Pearl Jewelry
Wipe clean after each use with a soft, dry or damp cloth. Mild soapy water is fine. No mechanical cleaners, heat or chemicals. Pearl is a soft gem and is easily prone to getting scratched when rubbed against harder substances. While storing , make sure it is kept in a separate enclosure. If it is set in sterling silver, do not use silver polish for cleaning the jewelry.