SINGAPORE: Another month, another birthstone! Whilst the original idea of birthstones can be traced back to the Book of Exodus in the Bible and the Twelve Tribes of Israel, the idea of each person always wearing a gemstone corresponding to the month of their birth is a distinctly modern idea that scholars trace to 18th century Poland, with the arrival of Jewish gem traders to the region.
The current ‘modern’ list of birthstones was not defined until 1912, by the National Association of Jewelers (Jewelers of America) in the USA, and has only been changed once since then, to include Tanzanite as the December birthstone.
WHAT ARE PEARLS? The birthstone for June is Pearl, which is rather ironic as it isn’t actually a stone at all! Pearls are organic gems, defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “a hard, lustrous spherical mass, typically white or bluish-grey, formed within the shell of a pearl oyster or other bivalve mollusc and highly prized as a gem.”
HOW ARE PEARLS MADE? The main two types of pearls which exist are Natural and Cultured Pearls. Natural pearls have ocurred organically, with no human intervention. These are both valuable and rare to find in jewellery.
They form accidentally, when a microscopic intruder or parasite enters the host oyster and settles inside the shell. The oyster is irritated by the intruder and therefore puts layers and layers of calcium carbonate and conchiolin over it. Once this process has been repeated many times, a pearl has been formed.
Cultured pearls get a little kick-start from mankind, with something being placed inside the host oyster to act as the irritant. This can be either a sacrificial piece of another ‘donor’ oyster, a piece of shell or a round bead. Afterwards, the process is the same, with layers of calcium carbonate and conchiolin being secreted to over the (artificially introduced) irritant, to cover it.
WHERE CAN YOU FIND PEARLS? Pearls can grow in saltwater or freshwater, in rivers, lakes or in the ocean. They don’t even get picky about temperatures – growing in the freezing rivers of Scotland just as happily as in the balmy waters of the South China Sea. Currently the majority of wild or natural pearls are found by divers off the coast of Bahrain and Australia.
WHY CHOOSE PEARL JEWELLERY? Why wear pearl jewellery? Well apart from the fact that they have recently become ‘on trend’ again, they are also forever known as a timeless classic when it comes to jewellery.
Although these days most people don’t own a single strand of white pearls, having at least one pearl item in your jewellery box is an essential – a nice contemporary piece similar to the Halcyon Days bangle (which has already found itself an owner) would be ideal! Pearls come in so many shapes, sizes and colours – from the tiny Chinese keishi pearl, to stunning marble-sized golden South sea pearls, to black Tahitian pearls – there really is something for every taste.
Quirky fact about pearls… Most people know that they grow within oysters, but may not know that pearls can also form within other types of shells, such as mussels, conch shells, giant clams or even within snails! Some of these pearls are much sought after, such as melo pearls, with their gentle flame like structure covering the whole surface of the pearl… and others have no iridescence or lustre at all and apart from being interesting, are worthless. Pearls produced by snails are an example.
You can check out just some of the amazing pieces of pearl jewellery we currently have here.
To experience The Jewel Box private jewellery atelier in Singapore, call +65 6733 4100. For more information about the bespoke service, click here.