Birthstones 101 and a Complete Guide to June Birthstones

June 27, 2018 by Sos Nazaryan

You’ve likely found yourself on this page because you’re interested in learning more about birthstones, and specifically, the birthstones for the month of June. In this article, we’ll provide all the information you need to know to about these delightful gems that have special meanings for the months they are designated to. What is a birthstone? Where do birthstones come from? What is the birthstone for my month? We start by answering these questions before focusing in on the three exquisite gemstones designated for people born in June. Let’s begin!

What is a Birthstone?

Simply put, birthstones are gemstones that represent a person’s birth month. Each month has a unique gem (sometimes more than one) associated with it that holds a special meaning for those born in that month. Each birthstone has a distinct beauty that creates a captivating appearance on a piece of jewelry, which is how they’re most commonly worn. Birthstones are not only worn during the specific month they’re associated with, but instead throughout the whole year. They are often given as a gift to someone on their birthday and make a particularly great gift not only because of their beauty but more importantly, the meaning behind them.

Birthstones by Month
(for more info click on each birthstone  )

JanuaryFebruary
GarnetAmethyst
MarchApril
AquamarineDiamond
MayJune
EmeraldPearl, Alexandrite, Moonstone
JulyAugust
RubyPeridot, Spinel
SeptemberOctober
SapphireTourmaline, Opal
NovemberDecember
Citrine, TopazZircon, Tanzanite, Turquoise

 

Birthstone Meanings

Throughout their history, birthstones have been associated with folklore detailing their various symbolic powers and qualities, similar to zodiac signs. The belief is that by wearing your birthstone, you connect with different the qualities that the birthstone possesses. Today, while many people may not believe the mythical healing powers their birthstone was linked to thousands of years ago, their symbolic meaning is still valued. More generally, birthstones are considered to be a token of good fortune for those born in the month.

 

Where do Birthstones Come From?

Birthstones have had significance since ancient times and have a fascinating history tied to them. To get started, we cover one extremely common question that many people have when it comes to birthstone history: how did the idea of birthstones first originate?

Biblical birthstones

(Image Courtesy of Listverse)

The idea of birthstones has its roots in Biblical times. As written in the Bible in the book of Exodus, Moses describes the ceremonial priest’s garment that was to be made for his older brother Aaron, a high priest. He gives directions for the breastplate to adorned with twelve different gemstones, each symbolizing one of the twelve tribes of Israel.

“And the stones shall be with the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names, like the engravings of a signet; every one with his name shall they be according to the twelve tribes.” Exodus 28:21

Titus Flavius Josephus, a first-century Romano-Jewish historian, was the first to make a connection between the twelve gemstones and the twelve zodiac signs, and later, the twelve months of the Roman calendar. For centuries, the standard practice was to have all twelve gemstones and wear the corresponding one each month until custom changed so that instead, only the gemstone of the month you were born was worn throughout the year.

As to which specific gemstones were initially used as part of the twelve remains a highly debated topic with no definitive answer. Not only are there variations in the different versions of the Bible, but in addition, the information written in each version is very difficult to interpret and make sense of. This is mostly due to the fact that there was very little understanding of minerals during Biblical times so the descriptions were often inaccurate.

Many different lists of birthstones were used until 1912, when the American National Jewelers’ Association, or what is today known as the American Jewelers Association, put together the first official list. Though this list is considered to have little connection to the original set of gemstones described in the Bible, it is nonetheless regarded as the most authoritative source when it comes to birthstones.

Since 1912, there have been a few updates to the list, specifically regarding June birthstones. In the original list, pearl and moonstone were listed as the only birthstones for the month of June. In 1952, nearly a century after first being discovered, alexandrite was also added to the list of June birthstones. Those born in June have three stunning gemstones to choose from, each of which we will take a closer look at in the next section.

 

What is my Birthstone?

  1. January Birthstone – Garnet

 Garnet

(Image Courtesy of National & Gem Jewellery Authority)

 

These alluring gemstones are most famous for rich red hues, though they are found in many other colors including orange, green, and even purple. The name comes from the Latin word granatum which translates to “seedlike.” This is believed to be in reference to pomegranate (pomum granatum) seeds which the gemstone resembles. Garnets have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs that date back 5,000 years, evidencing the longstanding connection people have had with these gems. For those born in June, this birthstone is said to bring peace, good fortune, and long-lasting friendship.

  1. February Birthstone – Amethyst

 Amethyst

(Image Courtesy of Plants Hospital)

 

February babies have Amethyst as their birthstone, which is supposed to protect those born in the month from negative energy. The palette of the gemstones features breathtaking shades of purple that range from light lavender to violet. Due to its color, ancient Greeks associated the gem with Bacchus, the god of wine, and held the belief that it protected against intoxication.

  1. March Birthstone – Aquamarine

 Aquamarine_Birthstone

(Image Courtesy of Learning Geology)

Aquamarine is a gemstone that comes from the same beryl family as emeralds. The name comes from the Latin words aqua and marina, together translating to “sea water” and representing the stone’s color. The tranquility of the stone that is invoked by its light blue shades holds significance in its meaning. It’s is believed to protect sailors against rough seas, as well as soldiers going into battle. Today, the gemstone is believed to help ensure safe travels for people who wear it.

  1. April Birthstone – Diamond

Diamond Bithstone

(Image Courtesy of BB and O Flowers)

As the world’s most popular gemstone, diamonds are treasured by people all over the globe and have been for thousands of years. Ancient Romans and Greeks believed that the gemstones were made of tears of the gods. Though white diamonds are most common, more rare varieties include black, yellow, red, and blue diamonds. They are the hardest gemstone of all, over 50 times harder than anything else found in nature. Diamonds are a symbol of purity and everlasting love, making it the perfect gift for someone special in your life that’s born in April.

  1. May Birthstone – Emerald

 Emerald Birthstone

(Image Courtesy of Symbols)

 

Emerald is the designated birthstone for May. The vibrant green hues of the gemstone exude a Springtime aura that’s a perfect fit for those born in the month. Because they’ve been treasured for thousands of years, there are many different interpretations as to their symbolic meaning. Today, emeralds are symbols of passion and a zest for life.

  1. June Birthstones – Pearl, Alexandrite, and Moonstone

 Pearl, Alexandrite, and Moonstone Birthstones

 

June has three birthstones, all of which are beautiful in their own special way and offer their own symbolic meaning. Pearls and moonstones have a long history linked to them, while Alexandrite is a more recently discovered gem that has begun to get more attention in the past couple of decades. As the emphasis of this article, each of these three June birthstones is described in-depth in the next section.

  1. July Birthstone – Ruby

 Ruby Birthstone

(Image Courtesy of Connoisseurs)

Often referred to as the “King of Gems,” the ruby is the July birthstone. These gemstones feature a fiery red color that has made them one of the most recognized gems in the world. They are believed to symbolize many different qualities, including love, power, protection, and good fortune.

  1. August Birthstones – Peridot and Spinel

 8. August Birthstones – Peridot and Spinel  

Two awe-inspiring gemstones are associated with August: peridot and spinel. Peridot is prized for its distinctive lime green color that reflects magnificently under the light. Spinel, on the other hand, is found in a wide variety of elegant colors. As far as symbolic meaning, peridots are associated with prosperity, while spinel represents longevity.

  1. September Birthstone – Sapphire

 Sapphire Birthstone

(Image Courtesy of National Geographic)

There is no mistaking the radiant blue color of sapphires, the prized gemstone chosen for the month of September. Despite their trademark blue hue, they also come in different colors such as pink and orange. These gems have played an important role in many historical cultures, holding many different meanings. Today, sapphires are believed to be a symbol of truth, genuineness, and nobility.

  1. October Birthstones – Tourmaline and Opal

 October Birthstones – Tourmaline and Opal

Tourmaline and opal are both the birthstones for the month of October. While tourmaline may not be one of the most recognized gemstones, there is no doubt that it is unique.  One reason being they feature the largest assortment of colors out of all gemstones. The belief is that the gemstone possesses an inward energy which calms and soothes. Similarly, opals also feature many colors, but all on the same stone, creating a truly enticing display of beauty. The colors of the gemstone are believed to enhance creativity. In the end, it’s safe to say that both gems are prime examples of nature’s beauty.

  1. November Birthstones– Citrine and Topaz

 November Birthstones– Citrine and Topaz

November claims two charming birthstones in citrine and topaz. Citrine is quite a rare gemstone and features a striking yellow color which is indicative of its name. The gem is associated with positive energy and optimism. Topaz has long been a favorite of jewelry collectors. Among some of its most popular colors are purple, pink, blue, and red. The gem is symbolic of faithfulness and loyalty, especially in friendship.

  1. December Birthstones – Zircon, Tanzanite, and Turquoise

 December Birthstones – Zircon, Tanzanite, and Turquoise

After tanzanite was added to the list of December birthstones in 2002, the month became the second month to feature three gemstones.  All three of these gemstones come in different varieties of blue—a perfect complement to the cold winter month. While they might share a common color, their meanings are quite different. Turquoise is a protective amulet, while zircon is symbolic of high energy, and lastly, tanzanite represents truth and dignity. Having options is never a bad thing, especially when it’s three incredible birthstones.

 

June Birthstones: Pearl, Moonstone, Alexandrite

June is one of two months that has three birthstones designated to it. Pearls are thought of as the primary birthstone for the month, while moonstone and alexandrite are considered alternative June gemstones. All three are remarkable gemstones which feature their distinct histories, colors, shapes, and meanings.

Pearls and Birthstones

Pearls

Pearls are undoubtedly one of the earth’s most unique gemstones. They are the only gemstones to come from a living creature—mollusks such as oysters and clams that come from specific oceans and rivers located in different parts of the world. Today, pearls are one of the most popular gemstones.

June Birthstone - Pearl

(Image Courtesy of Smithsonian Magazine)

The Meaning of Pearls

There are many various interpretations as far as what the meaning of pearls are, mainly because so many different cultures treasured and embraced the gem. Historically, pearls were associated with water because of where they originate from, but also with the moon because of their look. In ancient Chinese culture, pearls were believed to bring wisdom to those who wore it. Today, pearls are most commonly believed to symbolize purity, integrity, and love. This belief comes from ancient Greeks, who believed pearls were hardened tears of joy from Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty.

The History of Pearls

People have treasured pearls since ancient times. In both ancient Egypt and Rome, royalty (including Cleopatra) adorned themselves with the dazzling gemstone. Due to their extreme rarity and high value, they were symbols of power, class, and prestige. Though pearls continue to maintain very high levels of popularity today, they’re not the exorbitantly priced gems they once were.

Natural and Cultured Pearls

For thousands of years, all pearls that were harvested were natural pearls, meaning they developed in nature entirely on their own without any human interference. Divers would risk their lives to dive deep into waters and collect mollusks despite the slim chances of actually finding a pearl. Given their extreme rarity, natural pearls were and still continue to be very expensive. Nearly all natural pearls available on the market today are vintage pieces, and this is primarily due to one development which changed the pearl industry forever.

In 1893, Kokichi Mikimoto developed the world’s first cultured, or farmed, pearl. These cultured pearls featured the same qualities as natural pearls, in addition to more spherical shapes that people preferred. In the years that followed, the supply of pearls increased dramatically, in turn lowering the price of the gems and making them accessible by many more people. Cultured pearls were also a much more sustainable option than natural pearls, considering the population of wild mollusks was severely depleted by that point due to overharvesting. Today, nearly all pearls available for purchase today are cultured pearls.

How are Pearls Made?

In nature, pearls develop when a tiny particle gets trapped inside a mollusk completely by chance. To defend itself from this irritant, the mollusk begins to produce and coat the particle with nacre, a composite made largely from aragonite that gives pearls their luster. In essence, this particle acts as the nucleus of the pearl. As the mollusk continues to coat the particle with nacre, a pearl slowly begins to form. It can take up to four years for a pearl to fully develop.

For cultured pearls, there is one significant difference in this development, which is how the particle is first introduced. Instead of this process happening randomly, pearl farmers deliberately introduce it through a delicate incision. From there, the process is exactly the same as a natural pearl.

Pearl Formation

Shapes, Colors, and Luster

Pearls come in a variety of exquisite colors that are all unique in their own way. Although white is most commonly associated with the gemstone, they are also available in other colors such as black, pink, and even a golden hue. And while perfectly round pearls are most popular, the gemstones also feature different shapes such as baroque, semi-baroque, and drop-shaped. Although baroque and semi-baroque shapes are slightly irregular, they certainly give the gemstone a one-of-a-kind aesthetic which more and more people are coming to appreciate.

While color and shape are both important qualities of a pearl, many would say that a pearl’s luster is its defining characteristic. As we mentioned previously, this luster comes from the quality of the nacre that a mollusk uses to create the pearl. The luster is the reason why the gemstone reflects like the way it does, making it seem as though if it’s glowing from the inside.

The color, shape, and luster-quality of a pearl are all typically dependent on the type of pearl, which we discuss in the next section.

color, shape, and luster-quality of a pearl

(Image Courtesy of Quiet Curator)

Types of Pearls

There are four pearl types: Freshwater, Akoya, Handama, Tahitian, and South Sea. Each features distinct characteristics that vary in the qualities we discussed above, as well as in size and value. In addition, they all come from different geographic locations.

Freshwater Pearls: Found in lakes and rivers in China, Freshwater pearls are one of the most popular types of pearls. This is because of their extremely reasonable price-points. Despite their affordability, however, they maintain a high level of quality, especially in recent years where advances have been made in Freshwater pearl cultivation. From white to pink, cream, and lavender, Freshwater pearls come in a wide variety of stunning colors.

Akoya Pearls: Japanese Akoya pearls were one of the first types of pearls to be cultivated and have since become a distinguished pearl type that is revered around the world. Not only do they feature perfectly spherical shapes, but also very high luster that makes them truly stand out. A white Akoya pearl necklace is considered one of the most classic and timeless pieces of jewelry that money can buy.

Tahitian Pearls: Despite their name, Tahitian pearls don’t only come from Tahiti, but instead in waters off the coast of many islands that make up French Polynesia. These pearls are unlike any other, and this is primarily due to their breathtaking colors. Most notable is their irresistible black hue, but others include a peacock green, silver blue, and eggplant.

South Sea Pearls:  There are two variations of South Sea pearls: white and golden. White South Sea pearls are found off the coast of Australia, while Golden South Sea pearls come from the Philippines. Both feature pearls that are larger than any of the other types, perfect for someone looking for a set of bold, lavish pearls.

 

Moonstone

Moonstone, an incredibly luminous gemstone, is the second birthstone for the month of June. Though they are not quite as popular as pearls, many would argue that they’re just as beautiful.

The History of Moonstone

Moonstones come from the feldspar mineral group, which makes up a good portion of the earth’s crust. As a result, there are many different geographical locations where they’re found, including the United States, Brazil, India, and Armenia, to name a few. They’ve been adorned by people for thousands of years, with the stone having been prevalent in ancient Roman, Greek, and Hindu cultures. These gems were especially particular during the Art Nouveau era between 1890 and 1910. Jewelers in this time period made frequent use of the gemstone to decorate various types of jewelry.

june birthstone - moonstone

(Image Courtesy of Crystal Cave)

The Adularescence of Moonstones

The most striking quality of moonstones is their adularescence, or schiller, as it’s often referred to as. As light strikes a moonstone, the internal structure of the gem makes the light scatter, giving the same visual effect as when clouds are lit up by the moon. This is where the name of the moonstone originates from. In fact, in many ancient cultures, the gemstone was thought to have been created from moonbeams.

The Meaning of Moonstone

The serene beauty of this gemstone is where its meaning comes from, specifically the soothing aesthetic of the moon. Historically, the gem has been considered a talisman for the soul and spirit. Moonstones are believed to possess a feminine energy that brings inner-peace, tranquility, and balance. The captivating appearance of the gem is indicative of this symbolism and makes it easy to understand and embrace its meaning.

 

Alexandrite

 

(Image Courtesy of GIA)

 

Alexandrite is the third and final birthstone for June. It is part of the chrysoberyl family. The gemstone is extremely rare and highly regarded for its color shifting ability. In the relatively short time since its discovery, the gem has grown to be quite popular.

The History of Alexandrite

Alexandrite was discovered in 1830 by Finnish mineralogist Nils Gustaf Nordenskiöld, who initially believed that the gemstone was emerald until two distinguishing factors made him realize that he had found a new gem. One was that this stone was a lot harder than emeralds. Next was the way the stone changed color under light.

Despite originally being named diaphanite by Nordenskiöld, this name wouldn’t last long. The stone came from Russia’s Ural Mountains—the only place in the world it was found at the time. With sole access to this gemstone, Russia’s royalty stepped in and named the newly discovered gem Alexandrite, after the country’s future leader, Tsar Alexander II.

When Alexandrite was added to the list of June birthstones in 1952, Russia was still the only place it was found, and by that point, the supply was extremely depleted. It wasn’t until thirty years later when other deposits of Alexandrite were found in India, Burma, and Brazil. Despite this new supply, Alexandrite is still considered extremely rare, and as a result, is one of the world’s most expensive gemstones.

The Gemstone’s Unique Ability to Change Colors

Birthstone Alexandrite changing colors

As we’ve been talking about, Alexandrite is unlike any other gemstone in the world in that it shifts colors under different sources of light—what is sometimes called the “Alexandrite effect.” When viewed in daylight, the color varies from a bluish-green to a yellow-green. Under incandescent light, the color ranges from a pink hue to a crimson red. As the saying goes, “emerald by day, ruby by night.”

The scientific explanation for this color-change is as follows: under different lighting conditions, the gemstone absorbs specific wavelengths of the spectrum and reflects others. This is due to traces of chromium found in the gemstone which results in strong absorption of yellow and green. In daylight where there is plenty of green light, the gemstone reflects this light back out. However, in artificial light, there isn’t a large source of green light, and as a result, the gem instead reflects the red rays that the light source contains.

The Meaning of Alexandrite

Considering Alexandrite doesn’t have an ancient history as the case with the other two June birthstones, there isn’t as much lore tied to it. That said, since its discovery, people have come to associate the stone with a few various meanings. As a birthstone, the gem is believed to inspire creativity and the imagination. It is also symbolic of hope and optimism, reminding us that each type of light brings a new beauty to life that should never be taken for granted.

 

Conclusion

Gemstones are some of the earth’s most beautiful natural treasures. Birthstones are great in that they give people a special connection to gemstones, one that goes beyond beauty and extends into symbolic meaning. If you’re born in June, consider yourself lucky to have three birthstone options that are all dazzling and embrace different meanings. With all that said, one question remains: which one will you decide on?

Sos Nazaryan

Sos Nazaryan

Jewelry and Fashion Writer at Pearls of Wisdom
Sos Nazaryan is a Content Specialist at the Pearls of Wisdom by The Pearl Source. One of the world’s premier retailers of high-quality pearls. Sos is always on the lookout for the latest fashion and jewelry trends that he can inform and inspire people with.
Sos Nazaryan

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