The birthstone for the month of June is not a “stone” at all. It is the pearl—the mysterious and exotic treasure of mariners—which commemorates those born in the calendar’s sixth month.
At one time pearls, which represent purity, innocence and humility, were the most precious of jewels. Egyptian aristocrats were buried with their pearls. The Greeks thought pearls were the tears of the gods. The Bible tells of the wise merchant who would sell all his stock to buy one perfect pearl and “pearls before swine” is the classic metaphor for wasting something wonderful on someone who cannot understand or appreciate it. Even the gates of heaven are described as being pearls—”The Pearly Gates.” The famous American gemologist, George Frederick Kunz called the pearl “a gift of nature on which man cannot improve.”
The Cartier Building, at 651 Fifth Avenue, has an interesting history involving a beautiful double-strand of natural pearls. The mansion was built in 1905 for the heir to an American railway fortune. In 1917, he sold the entire building to Monsieur Cartier of Paris for $100 and a perfect, double-strand of pearls. The building still stands today (and the Cartier emporium is still there), though, alas, the commercial introduction of cultured pearls (in 1928) has had a deleterious effect on the value of pearls. It will be interesting to remember, however, how very precious a string of pearls is the next time you see one in a photo from the Teens or early Twenties.
The English Art Deco dress set shown above is made of black mother-of-pearl and are centered with little seed pearls. They’d make a handsome and useful gift for the June-born man or any man celebrating Father’s Day. Please click on the photo to learn more about them.
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