Happy birthday to you!
If you are celebrating your birthday this month, you have the privilege of calling pearl and alexandrite your birthstones. Moonstone is also sometimes referred to as the birthstone of June, but it isn’t as widely accepted.
Here is a bit more about the history, origin, formation and current uses of pearl and alexandrite.
Pearls are unique as they are the only gems from living sea creatures and require no faceting or polishing to reveal their natural beauty. In the early 1900s, the first successful commercial culturing of round saltwater pearls began.
Since the 1920s, cultured pearls have almost completely replaced natural pearls in the market. This process requires that shell beads are placed inside an oyster and the oyster is returned to the water. When the pearls are later harvested, the oyster has covered the bead with layers of nacre. Most cultured pearls are produced in Japan. Freshwater pearls are cultured in mussels, mostly in China.
The quality of pearls is judged by the orient, which is the soft iridescence caused by the refraction of light by the layers of nacre, and lustre, the reflectivity and shine of the surface.
A relatively modern gem, Alexandrite, was first discovered in the emerald mines of Russia in the 1830s during the reign of its namesake, Czar Alexander II, and is extremely rare with chameleon-like qualities. Its color is a lovely green in both daylight and fluorescent light; it changes color to a purplish red in incandescent light. This unique optical characteristic makes it one of the most valuable gemstones of all.
Alexandrite is very scarce because of its chemical composition. It is basically a chrysoberyl, a mineral consisting of colourless or yellow transparent chrysoberyl, chrysoberyl cat’s eye and colour-changing alexandrite. It differs from other chrysoberyls in that it not only contains iron and titanium, but also chromium as a major impurity. It is this very element which accounts for the spectacular color change. Rarely, vanadium may also play a part.
Now that you’ve learned a bit about June’s birthstones, be sure to visit Gold Unlimited to select a birthday piece that’s right for you or your loved one. Don’t see what you’re looking for? Don’t worry. We will work with you to custom design a signature piece that’s just right.
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