The birthstone for the month of June is not a "stone" at all. It is the pearl—the mysterious and exotic and (at one time) ultra-rare treasure from the seas.
Pearls, which represent purity, innocence and humility, were once the most precious of all the jewels. Egyptian aristocrats would be buried with their pearls. The Ancient Greeks believed that pearls were the tears of the gods. The Bible tells of the wise merchant who would sell all his stock in order to acquire one perfect pearl. And "pearls before swine" is a classic metaphor for wasting something on a person who cannot understand or appreciate it. Even the Gates of Heaven are encrusted with pearls—"The Pearly Gates." The famous American gemologist George Frederick Kunz called pearls "the gift of nature on which man cannot improve."
The Cartier building at 651 Fifth Avenue, has an interesting history involving a beautiful strand of natural pearls. The mansion was built in 1905 by the heir to an American railroad fortune. In 1917, he sold the entire building to Monsieur Cartier of Paris in exchange for $100 and a perfect double strand of pearls (for his wife). The building still stands today, housing the Cartier New York emporium. Alas, the pearl necklace has not fared as well. The introduction of cultured pearls (in 1928) has had a deleterious effect on the value of all pearls (natural or otherwise). They've become much more plentiful and much less expensive since that time. But it is interesting to remember how very precious pearls were the next time you see them in a photo from the early 1920's or earlier.
The sterling silver Art Deco cufflinks, shown above, are faced with mother-of-pearl and hold a single central pearl. They would make a handsome gift for the June-born man or any man on Father's Day. Please click upon the photo above to learn more about them.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248