Once upon a time, pearls were rarer than diamonds! They were tricky to find in nature, and thus were extremely expensive and reserved for royalty. But today, the favorite gem of kings and queens is much more accessible, largely in thanks to Kokichi Mikimoto. He and his associates invented the ability to farm pearls around the turn of the 20th century, creating “cultured” pearls.
Given this history, it comes as no surprise that antique jewelry is a great place to look for fabulous examples of natural pearls. They dangled from cameo pendants, were set into gold brooches, and mounted into rings with the same care as any gemstone.
Because pearls are the June birthstone, we’re showing them some extra love this month. Of all of the gems represented when birthstones were standardized by the National Association of Jewelers in 1912, June’s pearl is the only one that does not need to be cut or polished to be appreciated. In fact, pearls are also one of the only organic gemstones, not stones really, but formed by a biological process, along with amber and coral.
Help us wish all the best for our friends with June birthdays, and put on your pearls!
And, if you want to learn more about how pearls are formed and their fascinating history in jewelry, check out Anna's pearl guide over at The Hairpin!