Tears of Joy
The ancient Greeks believed that pearls were tears of joy from Aphrodite, the goddess of love. June’s birthstone is also known as the “stone of sincerity,” and represents purity. In ancient Rome, the pearl was a status symbol representing wealth and power. In the past, European countries banned regular people from wearing pearls, because they were a sign of power, meant only to adorn those in control.
Pearls are unique among gemstones in that they are made by living creatures – mollusks deposit layers of calcium carbonate around irritants that get into their shells. Only two groups of bivalve mollusks (clams) create the iridescent pearls valued for jewelry, and perfectly round, smooth pearls are very rare in nature. The rarity of natural pearls makes them the most expensive pearls on the market. The majority of pearls today are not natural; they are cultured pearls created by implanting a piece of shell or a round bead into an oyster or mussel.
Pearls are thought to effectively treat health issues related to the stomach and heart, and were used in preparing medicines in Europe, Persia, and China. They also calm the mind and promote mental stability – even thought to be a cure for insanity. Pearls are said to help focus attention, and maintain personal integrity. Faith, innocence, and charity are other attributes associated with the pearl. Perhaps for this reason, pearls are commonly worn by brides on their wedding day.