June Birthstone Jewelry: The Iridescent Pearl
Pearl is the traditional birthstone for June, an iridescent object that’s formed within the soft tissue of a living shelled mollusk (like an oyster or mussel). The name “pearl” comes from the French word “perle,” which originated from the Latin word “perna” meaning “leg,” in reference to the bivalvia, a class of freshwater mollusks shaped like ham legs. The pearl has often been viewed as a symbol of purity, but it also symbolizes wisdom, serenity, and loyalty. To learn more about pearls and how to clean and store them, keep reading our June birthstone guide.
What is a Pearl and What Color is It?
As stated in the intro, pearls are most commonly formed inside of the soft tissue of living mollusks. They are composed of tiny crystals of calcium carbonate that get lodged inside the mollusk. The mollusk then has an immune response and creates a pearl sac to seal off the potential threat of the irritant. This pearl sac then grows into what we consider to be the gems we call pearls. Naturally occurring pearls are very rare, and hunting for them is either banned or restricted in many territories, so most pearls found in jewelry are cultured in pearl farms where the mollusks are cleaned and protected from predators while the pearls are forming.
Pearls can come in a variety of colors, including pink, silver, black, or even multi-colored. However, the most common and sought-after color is the traditional white pearl. The color of a pearl is primarily the result of the host mollusk, with different types of mollusks producing different colors – like the Tahitian black-lipped oyster, which almost exclusively produces darker-colored or black pearls. The pearl color can also be impacted by water conditions, nutrient supply, or health of the mollusk.
What is the Meaning and History of Pearls?
Pearls have been hunted and treasured for thousands of years around the world – from divers in the Persian Gulf to hunters in the South China Sea dating back to 206 BCE. Freshwater pearls were also found in the British Isles – which was one of the reasons why Julius Caesar was drawn to Britain. Ancient Romans loved pearls, using them to upholster their furniture, sewing them into their clothes, and wearing them as necklaces.
Pearls are also significant gems in many world religions, noted in a variety of scriptures for their beauty and value. Ancient mythological beliefs were also held that pearls were teardrops from heaven; Persian mythology referred to pearls as the “tears of the gods,” while the ancient Greeks believed they were hardened tears of joy from Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Many cultures also believe that pearls are associated with the Moon and Venus.
Today, pearls are popular wedding gifts for brides, in addition to being the June birthstone, for their symbolism of love and fertility – and as mentioned above, they also symbolize purity, wisdom, serenity, and loyalty. We even refer to pearls in sayings like “pearls before swine” and “a pearl of wisdom” – denoting their inherent precious value.
At JCPenney, we have an irresistible collection of genuine, cultured pearl jewelry. Whether you’re looking for a pearl strand necklace, a pearl pendant necklace, or a pair of pearl earrings, you’ll find the best June birthstone jewelry at JCPenney – with pearls available in a variety of colors and different metal types. Shop online today and save on pearl jewelry, with special financing available if you use a JCPenney credit card.