If you are fortunate enough to have been born in the month of June your birthstone is the lustrous pearl.
Pearls are formed in the deep ocean inside the bodies of oysters and other molluscs. When an irritant enters the soft body of the creature it coats it in layers of a substance called nacre. This strong, iridescent material builds up in layers over long periods of time, eventually creating these beautiful gems.
Although spherical pearls are the most recognisable there are a wide variety of pearls. Baroque pearls (such as the one pictured below) can come in a wide variety of irregular shapes and sizes.
Most pearls are white, and exhibit iridescence, where light waves form a rainbow sheen across its surface, however other colours do exist, including the rare and beautiful Tahitian pearls, which are black.
Mother of pearl, which is also often incorporated into jewellery, is composed of the same substance as the pearl itself, but is layered on the inside of the mollusc's shell. When there is an irritant on the inner surface of the shell layers may be deposited in raised bumps which become blister pearls.
Pearls have been valued for many centuries, and attempts have been made to create simulations using a variety of different materials including glass, wax and more recently plastic, however it has proven impossible to create a synthetic substitute which matches the natural pearl's beauty.
In the modern age pearls are often cultured, which means that they are intentionally "seeded" in farmed pearl oysters. Cultured pearls are chemically identical to natural pearls, but the techniques involved in cultivating them are relatively recent. Antique pearl jewellery predates many of these processes, and their scarcity meant that they were lovingly included in some truly wonderful pieces.
You can view our full collection of antique and vintage pearl jewellery here.
Why not check out our full inventory to see what we have discovered?