one of the lowest of life forms, the mollusk, comes the pearl
-- a gem of unsurpassed beauty and elegance. Ancient Greeks
believed that pearls were the hardened tears of joy that the
goddess of love shook from her eyes as she was born from the
sea. The Ancient Chinese thought that these gems came from
the brains of dragons.
explanation for natural pearls is almost as interesting as
the mythology. When an irritant, such as a grain of sand or
a parasite, lodges in the flesh of a mollusk, a protective
substance called "nacre" is produced. Over a period of years,
layer upon layer of shimmering nacre coats the irritant, creating
a lustrous pearl.
pearls are relatively rare, so a process was created where
a piece of shell or a bead was placed inside a mollusk to
stimulate the production of nacre. This results in a cultured
pearl, which accounts for about 90 per cent of the pearl industry.
find natural pearls in The Persian Gulf as well as in the
waters off Japan, the South Pacific Islands off northern Australia,
and the coasts of Panama, Venezuela, and California. Most
of the cultured pearl industry is in Japanese and Australian
coastal waters. These gems come in a whole spectrum of colors,
from pure white to pink, yellow, gray and black. They also
come in wide variety of shapes and sizes.
have been a passion of people throughout the ages. They have
been ground up and used in cosmetics and as a medicine to
treat heart and stomach conditions. They continue to be viewed
as a mark of taste and refinement as well as a symbol of purity,
and they are often given to celebrate a marriage or the birth
of a child. Pearls are suitable for all ages, and elegantly
worn with everything from jeans to an evening gown.
are two alternate birthstones for June. The first is Moonstone
have a huge selection), a type of feldspar named for its
resemblance to the iridescent sheen of the moon. Mined in
Sri Lanka, Brazil, India, Madagascar, and the United States,
a gift of this stone is symbolic of health and longevity.
alternate birthstone for June is the Alexandrite. A yellowish
or brownish green in color, this gemstone changes color to
a red hue when exposed to a glowing light source, such as
candlelight. Because of this, it has been characterized as
"an emerald by day, a ruby by night." Alexandrite is mined
primarily in Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Burma, Madagascar
and Tanzania. It is a rare and expensive gemstone, symbolic
of joy and good fortune.
article written by Mike McGinnis and published originally
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