Can you believe it's June already? This month's featured birthstone is the beautiful pearl. Their natural lustre and translucence make the pearl one of the most well known and much favoured gems. Apart from the usual milky-white hue we associate with the pearl they can also be found in silver, cream, green, lavender, blue, black and golden shades. Alternative stones for the month of June are Alexandrite and Moonstone, but as my unicorn is called Pearl we will focus on them for this post. I have added a short extract from her story on the tab above if you wish to read it.
Formed from the tears of Aphrodite, a love potion from Cleopatra, a wedding gift from Krishna to his daughter. The legends surrounding this, one of the oldest gems, are numerous. Here are just a few more facts and interesting stories.
- The word Pearl is from the French 'Perle' which in turn has origins in the Latin word 'Perna' meaning leg. The thought is that the shells in which pearls are formed have a shape similar to a ham or leg of mutton.
- The characteristics of loyalty, faithfulness and friendship are associated with this gemstone
- They are reputed to be helpful for health problems relating to the stomach and intestines, heart and spleen.
- The Roman General,Vitelllius allegedly financed an entire military campaign with one of his mother's pearl earrings!
- Wealthy Roman women liked to wear their pearls whilst they slept. They adorned their couches and trappings with them also to remind them (and others presumably!) of their wealth.
- Julius Caesar was noted to be a great lover of the pearl.
- In Tudor England the 1500's were known as 'The Pearl Age.'
- In the 1900's the first successful commercial culturing of saltwater pearls began. Since the 1920's cultured pearls have almost completely replaced natural pearls in the market.
- The largest pearl in the world is believed to about about 3 inches long and 2 inches across and weighs about 1/3 of a pound. Known as the' Pearl of Asia' Shah Jahan of India gave it as a gift to his wife, Mumtaz (for whom he also built the Taj Mahal).
- Warriors from India encrusted their swords with pearls to represent tears and sorrow.
- In South Asian mythology pearls were said to be dewdrops from heaven that fell into the sea where they were caught by shellfish under the first rays of the rising sun at full moon.
- Pearls have often been used in medicines and to prevent diseases. In China there is evidence to suggest this was as early as 2000 BC and in Europe they were widely used until the 17th century.
- One of the most famous pearls is said to be 'La Peregrina' (The Wanderer). It is said that around 400 years ago a black slave gave it to his master in exchange for his freedom.
- Pearls are a gemstone for 30 years of marriage. (Our 30th anniversary next year, wonder if I'll get one!)
Finally , I will leave you with the verse from the Gregorian Poem for this month. Happy birthday to all born in the sunny month of June.
By her who in June was born,
No gem save Pearls shall be worn,
They will ensure her constancy,
True friendship and fidelity.