June Birthstone: Pearls
June is right around the corner! And did you know the birthstone for June is actually organic? It originates from the oceans, lakes, and rivers from around the world. If you guessed this birthstone to be pearls, you would be correct. Pearls have a long history in the birthstone world, and are associated in many cultures with purity, humility, and innocence. They are also used as a traditional wedding gift for brides on their special day.
Pearls are organic gems created inside either an oyster or a mussel, living in saltwater or freshwater. There are both natural and cultured pearls, but with the natural pearls being over-fished, you will see most pearls being from cultured farms today.
One of our pearl varieties, that also happens to be cultured, is the Cortez Pearl®. The Cortez Pearl is from the waters of Bacochibampo Bay in the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, near the city of Guaymas, Mexico. Cortez Pearls are rare saltwater cultured pearls from the rainbow-lipped Pteria Sterna oyster, native to Mexico's Sea of Cortez. These gems are formed when a mollusk covers a foreign object with beautiful layers of nacre, known as the mother of pearl. These cultured pearls are the result of the work of both man and mollusk: a skilled technician inserts a shell bead in the oyster to encourage the oyster to form a pearl. Pteria oysters are often used to produce Mabe, or half-round pearls. Until now, pearl experts thought that the winged Pteria variety of oyster could not produce round cultured pearls, but in reality it produces beautiful round pearls.
The Cortez Pearl farm is one of the jewelry industries greatest environmental success stories. When the pearls are harvested, they go directly into a bath of fresh water. There are no treatments used. The oysters themselves are sold to local food market and the shells are either used to back the famous Cortez Mabe Pearls or used to cut special mother of pearl pieces. The goal is to make sure the entire product from the harvest is used. This particular pearl farm and culturing process has helped reestablish a whole ecosystem many thought was lost forever. One of the beauties of these pearls is the careful quality control.
Cortez Pearls are harvested just once per calendar year and that is around June, which is quite suiting for this special birthstone. The pearl oysters are checked on a regular basis to determine just when to harvest. Water temperature also helps decide the optimal harvest date. Harvesting at just the right time means the pearls have their maximum natural luster.
We love the month of June as we get to celebrate pearls, especially the story of the Cortez Pearls from Mexico. Make sure to follow us as we share the harvest in the coming weeks.
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