June is a great month for choices! If you celebrate a birthday this month, you may choose from three lovely and unusual gems: pearls, rhodolite garnet or alexandrite. The shimmering reddish-purple rhodolite garnet is a crowd pleaser, and the rare and unusual alexandrite features an optical phenomenon: it appears green when viewed in natural sunlight or fluorescent light and has a reddish-blue appearance under incandescent light.
The grand dame of the month, however, is the traditional pearl. Here are some notes about this notable member of the gemstone community.
Properties: The lustrous pearl develops inside the bodies of oysters, mussels or clams in response to an irritant – either a grain of sand or a sliver of shell. To soothe this irritant, the mollusk secretes silky layers of a substance called nacre until the small speck becomes a pearl. Layer upon layer of this coating is deposited on the irritant until a pearl forms. It’s a process that can take from two to five years, depending on the size of the sphere. Naturally occurring pearls are rare, found in perhaps one of every 10,000 animals.
Estimated Values: Pearls hold their value. As Margaret completes appraisals for clients, pearls are frequently a delightful surprise as their estimated value can as much as double in a 20-year time period. If you haven’t had your pearls appraised in a while, bring them in!
Assortment: From the crème de la crème, the Japanese Akoya, to the lustrous, deep gray-black of the Tahitian pearl or the lovely artsy shape of a fresh water pearl, there are more than six varieties of pearls available in an array of colors. Pearls also offer a nice range of price points for all enthusiasts.
Responsibility: The last thing you put on, the first thing you take off. Why? Pearls can absorb and discolor if you use hairspray, perfume or other beauty products after you have put them on for the day or event. Also somewhat fragile, you want them protected from the bangs and bumps of household wear. So when you get home from that big date or just from work, take them off before heading to the gym or tackling household chores. Avoid storing pearls in a plastic bag as some plastics emit a chemical that will cause the surface of the pearls to deteriorate. Pearls are best stored in a cool place with stable humidity. Like skin, pearls can dry out, so don’t leave them in the safe deposit box for extended periods.
Loved for all times: Pearl jewelry dates back to 300 B.C., proving that they have been well loved over the course of time.
Style: A timeless classic that each generation finds a way to call their own, pearl styles today are a bit different than they were 25 years ago. While a full strand, graduated or all the same size, is always fashionable, a more casual style has emerged with ladies wearing a single weighty orb of about 6 to 7 mm in diameter on a simple, fine gold necklace. Also popular are the lustrous black, gray and golden Tahitian pearls that can have both a casual flair and a dressy quality, depending on what you wear.