Pearls – The Birthstone of June

Pearls –

At the heart of “Flowering Time”, Pearls respresent faith, charity, and innocence. Pearls
enhance sincerity, truth and loyalty and bring calming reflection.

Natural pearls are those that have formed without any intrusion by humans. A small mass of tissue has intruded the shell of the mollusk and in “natural” response to it, has formed a barrier around it that becomes a pearl. They are rare, valuable, and incredibly beautiful.

Cultured pearls are those that a tiny bead has been implanted by humans into the host mollusk and a pearl forms. They are not as irredescent and deep in color, but still a natural shape. You can determine the difference between natural and cultured through x-ray – the bead center shows as a hard mass without layers. The natural pearl center is layered.

Pearls and seed bead necklace or bracelets by Jana
Pearls and Seed Beads

Some imitation pearls (also called shell pearls) are simply made of mother-of-pearl, coral or conch shell, while others are made from glass and are coated with a solution containing fish scales called essence d’Orient. Although imitation pearls look the part, they do not have the same weight or smoothness as real pearls, and their luster will also dim greatly (see for more details).

I have used imitation pearls in some of my beadwork, but mostly stay with seed beads. However, I did have a local customer who requested I restring her cultured pearl necklace. It was a great learning process and reminded me of the exactness many beadworkers of the far east use daily.

Cultured and natural pearls are strung on silk and a knot is created between each bead. The knot is small enough to keep the beads from rubbing against each other, but not large enough to really show. The ends are then tied to secure clasps (either lobster claws or box clasps) and a tiny drop of glue is added for security, usually under a bead cover finding. Traditionally, 14 karat gold findings are used.

Pearls are thought of as a symbol of wealth and honor. Great care is taken when making them and great care is expected of the owner.

Gregorian Birthstone Poem:

Who comes with summer to this earth,
And owes to June her hour of birth,
With ring of agate on her hand
Can health, wealth, and long life command.

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