The Perfect Pearl: Birthstone Of June

The Perfect Pearl: Birthstone Of June

There are those who say Cleopatra didn’t do it...

It’s not possible. No way. No one could dissolve a pearl and swallow it up like it was nothing. They dismiss it as an amusing story, mere myth. But in doing so they make the very same mistake Marcus Antonius did thousands of years ago. They underestimate Cleopatra - pharaoh of Egypt and ruler of men - and what is attainable when a woman is determined to prove her worth.
Queen Beyonce dripping in pearls during her On The Run Tour in 2018

The tale of Cleopatra and the pearl is a famous one. Determined to prove Egypt held wealth beyond what Marcus Antonius could imagine, Cleopatra wagered she could host a dinner where the modern equivalent of more than a million dollars would be consumed in one single meal. The feast served on the evening in question was sumptuous - as were all the meals she enjoyed with her Roman lover - but it offered nothing extraordinary enough to justify Cleopatra’s claims until her servants placed a goblet of vinegar in front of her. While Marcus Antonius watched, Cleopatra took her earring off and dropped one of the two most valuable pearls in the world into the goblet. She waited for the vinegar to dissolve the pearl before drinking down the priceless concoction and winning her bet. 

While those who would disparage the last pharaoh of Egypt have insisted throughout the years that such a feat was impossible, modern science has proven that it could indeed be done. And with the light of scientific validation shining upon it, the oft-told story shimmers in a different way. It is fitting then that the gemstone at the heart of the tale was a pearl, for though these precious gems have been around for thousands of years, each pearl is a wonder of discovery whose allure is magnified by the dance between fact and fancy. 

An 18th century impression of "Cleopatra dissolving the Pearl in Wine" by Andrea Casali
In one of our favorite Vedic myths, pearls are the lovechild of heaven and earth, birthed on bolts of lightning. They are considered daughters of the moon. In Persian tales, these luminous orbs of magnificence were believed to originate wherever rainbows touch ground. Pearls have been called the tears of the gods and are astrologically connected to the planet Venus. And the truth of how they come into being does nothing to diminish the miracle of their existence. 

The only gemstones created within a living organism, pearls are a marvel of nature formed after an irritant enters the soft inner body of an oyster. The mollusk responds to the aggravation caused by the intruder by coating it in iridescent layers of a calcium carbonate known as nacre. Not every oyster produces a pearl and not every pearl produced within a mollusk is of a quality sufficient for use in adornment, so each and every single pearl used in jewelry is something of a sensation. But we already knew that just by looking at them.

As the gemstone chosen to celebrate those born in June, the pearl represents the unique wisdom gained only through experience. It is a gem believed to help balance the wearer throughout the ebbs and flows of their life. As a jewel once reserved for rulers and royalty, the pearl is a sumptuous embellishment for any ensemble from gala dresses to jeans and a t-shirt. Both a popular choice for wedding jewelry and the traditional gift for the thirtieth anniversary, pearls symbolize the generosity, integrity, and loyalty vital to the most fulfilling of relationships. 

Unlike many other gemstones, no human intervention beyond simple discovery is needed to bring the fullness of a pearl’s radiance to light. Gifted to yourself or another, pearls can honor a return to one’s essence, the part of you that knows what to do. Wear them as a tribute and reminder that even something that causes an irritation can also create value and beauty. They are jewels of resilience and tenacity, magnificent and magical, just like you.

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