The pearl forms when an irritant, such as a small parasite or a grain of sand, lodges in the flesh of an oyster, mussel or clam. Because of this irritant, a substance called “nacre” starts to form around it. Over several years, the layers of nacre start to build up around the irritant creating a beautiful pearl. Not all pearls are made in nature (called freshwater pearls), laboratories began a process of their own to make pearls by placing a piece of shell or bead in the clam to stimulate the production of nacre (called cultured pearls). Natural pearls are found in the Persian Golf as well as in the waters off Japan, Australia, Panama, Venezuela and California. They come in a variety of colors including pure white, pink, yellow, gray and black. They also come in many different shapes and sizes.
The pearl is the symbol of woman’s perfect beauty. It is believed that chronic headaches and migraines can be alleviated or completely cured by wearing a pearl necklace directly on the skin. Pearls also reduce allergies. A pearl necklace is believed to warn sensitive people of imminent disaster. Psychologically, pearl promote wisdom and commitment well into old age. They are considered to be a symbol of purity and are often given to celebrate a marriage or the birth of a child. The pearl is the accepted gemstone for the 30th wedding anniversary.
June also has 2 alternative birthstones: alexandrite and moonstone. Next week’s Gem Talk will be all about the color changing beauty that is alexandrite.