M-P, Mythology

June Gemstones and Pearls

In a previous post I asked why June deserved three gemstones instead of one. I found the answer.
June actually has 12 (or possibly more) birthstones.

A list of June gemstones can include pearl, moonstone, alexandrite, agate, chalcedony, emerald, chrysoprase, tiger’s eye, white sapphire, ruby, sapphire and citrine.

The number of gemstones for a month depends on how many sources you wish to count:

Modern, Mystical, Zodiac, Arabic, Hindu, Traditional, Russian, Sun/Star, Moon, Planetary, Talismanic, Italian, Roman, and Ancient Hebrew. . .

Thanks to http://www.bernardine.com/birthstone/june.htm for a comprehensive list and sources.

Obviously I’m not going to explore the culture and myth of that many gemstones in a single blog post.

Pearl on a Wheat CentToday we’ll look at Pearls.

Pearl is the official birthstone for the month of June as adopted by the American National Association of Jewelers in 1912.

There are many other gems to explore in future posts – so many bright, shiny things out there and like a dragon I wish I could add all of them to my hoard.

For example I have now fallen in love with Moonstone.

But back to Pearls.

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Pearls have been traced back to our earliest histories. Even, before written history people have adorned themselves with pearls.

Pearl myth and legend has also come down from the long-ago mists of time in a high diversity of cultures. This blog post will barely scrape the surface.

China is credited with the earliest mention in writing of pearls (a 4,000 year old historical text), but evidence of the rare pearl is found in ancient Egypt, Japan, Ancient Greece, Ancient Persia, Rome and so forth.

My favorite myth stories are about rainbows. Rainbows and pearls intersect in myth both in ancient Persia and China.

Ancient Persian myths thought that pearls were born when a rainbow met the Earth. In their myth, thunder caused all irregularities in the pearls.

In China, pearls were thought to be raindrops swallowed by oysters. The Chinese associated dragons and pearls together, since they believed dragons fighting in the clouds caused pearls to drop from the sky in the form of rain.

My second favorite myth centers on what becomes of tears when they fall. In Japanese lore, pearls are the tears of creatures as diverse as mermaids, nymphs and angels.

Pearls on an antique mirror

Pearls are also cited in many religious traditions including Christianity, Islam, and Hindu.

There are the “Pearly Gates” in Christian Revelations 21:21 – “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every gate was of one pearl: and the streets of the city were pure gold, as if transparent glass.”

The Koran speaks of the pearl as a symbol of perfection and that dwellers of paradise will be adorned with them 22:23 – “God will admit those who believe and work righteous deeds, to Gardens beneath which rivers flow: they shall be adorned therein with bracelets of gold and pearls; and their garments there will be of silk.”

Questions for my Islamic readers.

What is the preferred spelling Koran or Quran? Is it okay to quote the verse(s) that apply to my research or should I summarize them? I have not found any clear answers on my own. What do you think?

Hindu texts say that Krishna discovered the first pearl, which he presented to his daughter on her wedding day and since then pearls have been a part of wedding ceremonies. I have also found that India traces their pearl heritage back to the 3000 year old Rigveda.

Pearl ring on a pink heart compact

Pearls generally symbolize wisdom, wealth, luck, integrity, loyalty, purity and generosity.

I have found that, like roses, each color of pearl has a different meaning. Unlike roses, there are about as many pearl colors as there are pearls, but they have been grouped in broad categories of color.

The familiar white. White = Purity, Truth, Fertility, Innocence, Faith, Honesty, Sincerity, and Peace.

Gold = Riches, Wealth, Prosperity, Freedom, Success, Love, Wisdom
Purple = Wisdom. Artistry, Creativity, Complexity, Mystery, Motivation

I’m partial to black gems like black opals and black pearls are not an exception.

Black pearls = Mystery, Strength, Fascination, Allure, Independence, and Balance.

A black pearl also equals Rest. And for that reason alone, I need to have a black pearl.

There are a seemingly endless number of myths about the rare black pearl. See http://www.prleap.com/pr/20341/ for a good recounting of many of them.

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My favorite origin story for black pearls comes from the ancient Chinese in which black pearls are created in the brains of dragons and one had to slay a dragon to get the black pearl held in its teeth.

If a black pearl actually equals rest, I might be quite tempted to slay a dragon even though I am more inclined towards getting dragons (rather belatedly) classified as an endangered species.


An excellent site on pearl meanings – http://www.jewelry-secrets.com/Gemstones/Pearl/Meanings-Of-Colored-Pearls/Pearl-Color-Meanings-And-Moods.html
This site has lots of pearl jewelry available for sale, but the information between the items for sale is spot on – http://www.squidoo.com/pearl-myth

There are some gorgeous pictures of pearls at

To learn about pearls, their eight shapes, natural vs. cultured and how pearls are made see one of the sites below.

American Gem Society http://www.americangemsociety.org/pearls#sthash.1v0HmY1K.dpuf
A good summary of pearl history http://www.jjkent.com/articles/pearl-history-mythology.htm
A well done Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearl – mineral
This site bills itself as the world’s best information site on pearls. I wouldn’t quite go that far, but it is a great site all about pearls – http://www.pearl-guide.com/pearl-history.shtml

More pearl snippets I found of interest:

The Roman General Vitellius financed a military campaign with one of his mother’s pearl earrings.

During the Dark Ages, knights would wear pearls onto the battlefield to protect them from harm.

It used to be a Hindu custom to present a completely new, undrilled pearl and pierce it during the wedding ceremony.