June is one of only two months of the year that has three birthstones associated with it, giving the lucky people born in June a choice of gemstones between pearl, alexandrite, and moonstone. June’s birthstones range from creamy white opalescent pearl and different colored moonstones to the rare color-changing alexandrite. This spectrum of price points and color options give people with June birthdays a choice of a beautiful gemstone to fit any mood or budget.
Pearls are the only gemstones made by living creatures. Mollusks produce pearls by depositing layers of calcium carbonate around microscopic irritants that get lodged in their shells, not a grain of sand that is a common misconception. Pearls are very soft and delicate, ranging between 2.5 and 4.5 on the Mohs scale. They are sensitive to extreme heat and acidity. The calcium carbonate is so susceptible to acid that authentic pearls will dissolve in vinegar. Cultured freshwater pearls can also be dyed yellow, green, blue, brown, pink, purple or black. The finest quality of natural pearls has been highly valued as gemstones and objects of beauty for many centuries. Because of this, pearl has become a metaphor for something rare, fine, and valuable.
This June birthstone was named by the Roman natural historian Pliny, who wrote that moonstone’s shimmery appearance shifted with the phases of the moon. The finest moonstones, colorlessly transparent with a blue shimmer, come from Sri Lanka. Moonstones are also found in India, Australia, Myanmar, Madagascar and the United States. Indian gemstones are brown, green, or orange in color are more abundant and affordably priced than their classical blue counterparts. Its weakness is its relatively low hardness of 6 on the Mohs scale, making it prone to stress cracking and cleaving. Care is required with moonstone jewelry like rings or bracelets. Moonstone has been used in jewelry for millennia, including ancient civilizations. The Romans believed it was born from solidified rays of the Moon. Both the Romans and Greeks associated moonstone with their lunar gods.
Alexandrite was discovered in Russian emerald mines located in the Ural Mountains. Legends claim that it was discovered in 1834 on the same day that future Russian CzarAlexander II came of age and was named to honor him. Alexandrite is a rare variety of the mineral chrysoberyl that changes color from bluish green in daylight to purplish red under incandescent light. Alexandrite is one of the rarest and most expensive gemstones on earth. With a hardness of 8.5 on the Mohs scale, alexandrite is softer than sapphire and harder than garnet. Due to its scarcity, alexandrite is more valuable than other gemstones. They have been described as “emerald by day, ruby by night,” due to their color change in light.
With so many choices of gemstones to be had, June is a great month to have a birthday. Great care needs to be given with these gemstones, but their beauty surpasses any other gem.