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3 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THE PEARL THE BIRTHSTONE FOR JUNE
JUNE- The pearl
The sea hath its pearls,
The heaven hath its stars;
But my heart, my heart,
My heart hath its love.
The Sea Hath Its Pearls
Pearl differs from the usually naturally-occurring gemstone as it is produced within the soft tissue of a living shelled mollusk.
Composed of calcium carbonate, it is usually formed by pearl oysters or freshwater mussels but pearls of the rarest, finest quality occur spontaneously in the wild. As they are few and far-between, they’ve been highly valued as gemstones for centuries, and due to this, the very word ‘pearl’ is a term coined as something rare, admiral and valuable.
In English, the word ‘pearl’ comes from the French perle, originally from the Latin perna, oddly meaning leg. As strange as this may seem, the translation refers to the ham leg-shaped bivalve- a class of marine and freshwater mollusk that produce it.
When Spanish Conquistadors arrived in the Western Hemisphere, one discovered and named pearl ‘La Peregrina’ in 1560. This was given to the Queen of Spain.
Previously, natural pearls were found all over the world. These days, they are mostly found in the seas off Bahrain, a small island country situated near the western shores of the Persian Gulf. Australia also has one of the last remaining fleets of pearl diving ships.
As with other gemstones, imitation pearl offers a cheaper alternative to the real deal. These are usually made from mother-of-pearl, coral or conch shell, while they can also be made from glass and coated in a special solution to give them their signature sheen.
Farmed pearls are produced also, where the mollusk is impregnated with grit to irritate and begin the process. One pearl is produced at a time and can be cultivated for anywhere between one and seven years!
For thousands of years, most seawater pearls were retrieved by divers from the Indian Ocean. The practise first began in the Han Dynasty, when the Chinese hunted for them in the South China Sea.
We have previously explored pearl in recent articles but there is just so much to know! See if you can compare these three interesting facts to any we’ve ever brought to you before! You may have a difficult time!
Interesting Fact 1
The oldest known pearl jewellery fragment was found in the sarcophagus of a Persian princess who was thought to have died in 520 BC!
-Pearl has been found in the Red Sea, possibly where this specimen originated from.
Interesting Fact 2
Akoya, or saltwater pearls come from oysters, but freshwater pearls usually come from mussels
– an interesting piece of trivia there!
Finally, Interesting Fact number 3:
It may seems cruel but rest assured, no animals are harmed in the making of pearl!
– Harvesting pearl from mollusks does not kill or harm the animal. They can even be re-implanted to produce more.
That’s all for this issue, we hope you enjoyed getting to know the properties of pearl in a little more ‘depth’…
Now, who said that February was the sole month for love?! July (and next months topic) sees the ruby as its birthstone, boasting connotations of passion, desire and of course, love. Look us up next time to discover what three interesting facts has to offer…
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Written and researched by Hazel Martin for Helly and Haz of Helen Swan Designer Jewellery