Picking out birthstone jewelry for people born in June is a Choose Your Own Adventure experience. The American Gem Society lists pearl and Alexandrite as June’s birthstones. The Gemological Institute of America opts for pearl, moonstone and Alexandrite. I’ve seen other sources that say pearl and moonstone are the two June gems, and others that say moonstone and Alexandrite. I say that when it comes to jewelry, more is more, so you June babies should go with GIA’s threesome.
It might surprise you, but the concept of the birthstone wasn’t dreamed up in the last century by a jewelry company selling those chintzy birthstone stud earrings that grandparents buy for tween girls (you know the ones I’m talking about!).
Birthstones go back at least to the Bible and the 12 gems adorning the priestly breastplate of Moses’ brother Aaron. The 1st-century Roman-Jewish historian Josephus — who, by the way, has a fascinating life story — linked the gems to months, or the signs of the Zodiac. It’s difficult to tell what those original stones were though. In this subject, as in others, the Bible is subject to different translations. Over millennia, the idea of birthstones stuck around, but the list was in flux.
In 1913, in the U.S., a jeweler eventually did kick off a new birthstone trend, though he didn’t mean to. Tiffany executive George Frederick Kunz wrote a book on gemstones that included “natal stones” and the powers they were thought to have. A quick-thinking jewelers’ organization pounced on the idea and released its “official” list of birthstones. Since then there have been various substitutions and additions to the list, meaning the one thing you can count on with birthstones is that the definitive list will always be changing.
When it comes to June birthstones, you might find it hard to get your hands on Alexandrite, which is a rare color-changing stone. Personally, I’m very fond of moonstones. I bought a chunky silver ring with a moonstone in it during a trip to Dublin in 1997.
A year or two later, MrB bought me a silver and moonstone bracelet at an arts and crafts fair.
I made a one-of-a-kind moonstone poison ring, which has been sold …
… but you can order luxurious — not chintzy! — cabochon moonstone stud earrings from me any time you like. Holla at me at info at wendybrandes dot com for those.
I do think I love a good pearl even more than a moonstone, though. Good pearls to me are any that are NOT standard-issue white pearl studs or strands. Give me silvery or black pearls and irregular shapes! My own silver pearl pendant isn’t a perfect round, nor is it surrounded by traditional white diamonds. I set it with green garnets.
You can’t buy that necklace, because MrB got me that pearl … plus he has the matching cufflinks.
However, I do have a stunning black-pearl ring that’s available for immediate delivery. I call this ring “Luna” because it made me think of the dark side of the moon.
The South Sea pearl is set in platinum that’s been given a matte finish. The sparkle comes from 1.90 carats of high-quality diamonds. And now, suddenly, I can’t stop wondering how many songs rhyme the words “moon” and “June.” I might need to discuss this with IBM’s Watson, because I doubt a human is capable of counting that high. Soft Machine’s late 1960s piece, “Moon in June,” is an obvious one, but I prefer Eminem’s 2010 “Space Bound”:
Did you know the moon is not at the same distance from earth all the time? The average distance is about 238,800 miles, but at the moon’s apogee, the distance is 251,968 miles, meaning the “Space Bound” lyrics stay on the right side of science.
I didn’t expect to get from Biblical birthstones to Eminem’s astronomy in this post, but I did!