“From the sea I bring you treasure my love
the bounty from Neptune's domain.
With his blessing I bring a purse full of pearls.
I have travelled far and wide with salt winds in my eyes
to bring you a purse full of pearls.”
- Christos Andreas Kourtis
Each of the twelve months has a unique birthstone associated with it. The Pearl belongs to June.
The history behind birthstones stretches back to Biblical times. Scholars believe that the first twelve birthstones were associated with the ceremonial breastplate crafted for Moses’ brother Aaron, a high priest. The breastplate was set with twelve gemstones, each symbolizing the twelve tribes of Israel.
Statue of Hebrew High Priest Aaron, brother of Moses, wearing his gemstone breastplate. Photo courtesy of the Gem Society.
The practice originally was to wear all twelve gemstones throughout the year. Originally, the stones were not considered special to those born in a certain month.
Later, the gemstones became associated with the twelve months of the year and the astrological signs of the zodiac.
With their association with the zodiac, each gemstone gradually gained different meanings and personality traits said to be intrinsic to the wearer.
There have been countless changes from the original twelve gemstones to the list we know today.
The modern birthstone list that we go by now was officially published in 1912 by the National Jewelers Association.
There have been a few changes and additions since then, but the Pearl has always been listed as the birthstone for June.
Interestingly, Pearl is the only "Organic Gemstone" on the list.
Each gemstone corresponds to a particular month of the year and its astrological sign. The chart below lists each of the traditional birthstones and their special meanings:
Pearls have long represented:
Long Life, Health, Blessings and Prosperity are all good things that wearers of the June birthstone can hope to attract.
An organic gemstone, pearls may just be the oldest precious gemstone known to man.
The oldest pearl found was recently discovered off the coast of Abu Dhabi and dates to Neolithic times, around 8,000 years old! The pearl was found by archaeologists excavating an ancient burial tomb of a female, possibly ancient royalty.
Many Egyptian tombs have also been found to contain pearls to aid the deceased souls in the afterlife.
The oldest pearl in the world, found during a tomb excavation of a Persian princess. Currently on exhibit at the Louvre Museum, Paris. Photo courtesy Discovery News.
The ancients from all over the world revered the pearl for its beauty, simplicity and unique lustrous glow.
Pliny the Elder told of a (now very famous) story concerning Cleopatra and Marc Antony, the star-crossed lovers. The couple were debating about who could spend the most lavishly, and who could "devour the fortune of a whole nation in just one meal."
They made a wager which Cleopatra promptly won the next evening by removing a large tear-drop shaped pearl earring from her ear and dissolving the pearl in a goblet of vinegar (tabes is the word that Pliny used) and drinking it down.
Whether this fantastic story is actually true (that would be some killer vinegar, maybe literally!) remains to be seen. But the legend has persisted throughout the years, and only continues to add to the pearl's mystique.
The Ancient Greeks and Hindus both gifted pearls to young brides on the eve of their weddings.
The Greeks believed that the pearl would protect the young bride from evil, and would bolster the success of the marriage. Young brides would wear a string of pearls, or have pearls woven into their Stefana (the traditional wedding crown) along with olive leaves, ribbons and flowers.
The traditional Stefana, or wedding crown, dates back to ancient Greece and is still in use today. Stefana's can be adorned with pearls, ribbons and olive leaves. Photo courtesy of art to fit
The Hindu tradition of wearing pearls at a wedding is said to have begun when the god Vishnu gifted his daughter Pandaia with pearls that he plucked from the sea on her wedding day.
Pearls and brides have been a traditional pairing ever since!
Audrey Hepburn wearing her famous Multi-Strand Pearl Necklace in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Photo courtesy of Le Tote
Out of the millions of pearls that have passed through countless hands, there are a few that nearly everyone knows about.
The most famous pearls in history are:
There are many famous celebrities that can claim the pearl as their lucky birthstone.
and many more.
If you share the Pearl as your birthstone, it looks like you're rubbing elbows with some pretty amazing people!
Pearls are perhaps one of the most versatile gemstones you can wear. Simultaneously elegant and casual, pearls can be worn to any occasion and with any outfit ...
From your favorite Little Black Dress to jeans and a sweater, pearls always look amazing.
There are endless ways to add a touch of glamour and elegance no matter what you're wearing that day.
Some of our most popular and timeless offerings include
PurePearls.com offers tons of resources dedicated to giving you the inside information you need to make an informed decision before you purchase your pearls.
Our most popular How To articles include:
Or you can visit our Pearl Education Center for access to all of our comprehensive education articles to become a pearl expert!
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