June birthstone: Pearls (and Turquoise)

For all those born in June, Happy Birthday! Your birthstone is pearl – according to the modern birthstone calendar. But up until the beginning of last century, it used to to be turquoise.

Pearls are…well, pearls are wonderful! As you may know, they are created essentially from an ‘irritation’ in the mollusc’s lining. This irritation (usually a bit of sand) is then coated by various layers of nacre (the shell lining – what you would know as mother of pearl) until the ‘pearl’ is ready.

These days, most pearls are farmed ie created using human intervention. ‘Wild’ or ‘natural’ pearls are very rare and to find them, involves killing hundreds of pearl oysters or pearl molluscs, just to find one. It is due to this scarcity that pearls used to fetch such unbelievable prices in the past and were such a symbol of richness and opulence – see my previous post on this here.

There are two key kinds of pearls: freshwater, saltwater . Freshwater pearls come from pearl mussels found in lakes, rivers, ponds and other bodies of fresh water; mostly, they come from China. Saltwater pearls are from pearl oysters and are found in lagoons and other bodies of water in the oceans.

At StyleRocks, we offer freshwater, A grade pearls in our pearl collection: as I’ve posted here previously, the popularity of the pearl collection has really been quite impressive. While the customisation available with pearls is essentially limited to their colour (white, pink, black) and of course, changing the metal where appropriate, it certainly demonstrates an appetite for these timeless, classic pieces of jewellery.

Here’s one of my favourite pieces from the StyleRocks pearl range: the yellow-gold ring with white pearl combo

So now, let’s take a little look at turquoise. Up until the 20th century, turquoise was the birthstone of choice for June – quite why it changed at this point, it’s not clear. We offer turquoise as the June birthstone of choice on our luxury touches, simply because it’s specifications are easier to work with at smaller sizes than pearls.

Turquoise has its history rooted in ancient cultures: Ancient Egypt, the Aztecs and even in China since the Shang Dynasty. The word ‘Turquoise’ is derived from a 16th century Old French word for “Turkish” as it was first brought to Europe from Turkey.

Unlike pearls, turquoise is a naturally occuring compound and there is no human intervention required to product it. Historically, it’s been mined in Iran, Sinai and large parts of North Western and Central America – it’s not for nothing that we typically associate the Native American Indians with turquoise. Presently, Arizona is the most important producer of turquoise by value with Nevada coming a close second.

Turquoise can make an outfit ‘pop’: one of my favourite celeb jewellery pieces, Heidi really makes this turquoise necklace look amazing!

So given the choice – are you a pearl or turquoise wearer???

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