Doesn’t time fly? We are halfway through the year already, and by the end of the month, there will only be 184 days remaining until the end of the year. June is the month with the longest daylight hours of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, and conversely has the shortest daylight hours in the Southern Hemisphere.

If born in June, your birthstones are pearl, alexandrite and moonstone. June is one of only three months in the year (August and December are the others) that has more than one choice.

Why do we have birthstones at all?

Birthstones are a cherished tradition and are a thoughtful gift for any occasion. Rooted in history, each birthstone possesses unique properties and according to some experts, specific powers.

It is believed the origin of birthstones goes back to the Breastplate of Aaron, where Moses set forth directions for making a special garment for Aaron, the High Priest of the Hebrews, that had 12 unique gems that represented the 12 tribes of Israel.

Although birthstones are no longer widely believed to have religious significance, some say the stones possess healing powers - Opal, the birthstone for October, is said to hold powers of invisibility and protection from spiritual breakdown. There are also long-standing superstitions regarding birthstones - for example, a bracelet with birthstones will supposedly bring the wearer different gifts depending on where it is worn: left wrist will promote openness, the right wrist, self-confidence.

Why have three stones in June, August and December?

It depends on who you ask and where you are! There are several systems for birthstones - modern and ancient as well as US and UK. Modern birthstone lists are a 20th-century development, whereas ancient birthstones can be traced way back to the 15th century. With several lists to work from, it isn't surprising then that some months have more than one birthstone, especially where an ancient birthstone was so rare it was not widely available for use in jewellery. This fact does create some confusion but the multiple options for some months were created in order to allow more affordable options in addition to the traditional more expensive stones.

June’s are Pearl, Alexandrite and Moonstone

Pearls are a gift from the sea and are produced within the soft tissue of a living shelled oyster. That beautiful iridescent colouring is called a ‘nacre’, and is strong - and surprisingly resilient. For a ‘cultured’ (man-made) pearl, a small foreign object is planted in the pearl sac by a delicate technique called seeding or grafting. This step of the culturing process requires tremendous skill and precision, as the oysters will only allow their shells to be pried open 2 to 3 centimetres or they will reject the nucleus, and experienced technicians use exacting tools to make the tiny incisions. They are ultimately the same as natural pearls, which are rarer and more expensive. Cultured pearls make up 95% of the pearl market.

Alexandrite is well known as an ‘emerald by day, ruby by night,’ and displays one of the most remarkable colour changes in the gem world — green in sunlight and red in incandescent light. Think diamonds, but more precious, or sapphires, but more valuable. However, they are so rare and expensive that few people have seen a natural alexandrite. They were originally only mined in Russia, but when the mines were exhausted, mines in places such as Brazil, Sri Lanka and East Africa took over, though the original gems from Russia are still prized for their unique colour. Lab-created alexandrite exists, where a lab mimics the chemical conditions and ingredients of alexandrite, simply speeding up the process. This process makes alexandrite more affordable, widely available and ethical — which are all good values.

Moonstones have a delicate beauty, and their long-established heritage makes them perhaps the most familiar gem-quality member of the feldspar group. Feldspars are the most widespread minerals in the earth’s crust, as well as some of the most diverse. The ever-changing, white reflections on its surface, which gemologists call adularescence, seemed to suggest a powerful, good spirit dwelled within.


Marilyn writes regularly for The Portugal News, and has lived in the Algarve for some years. A dog-lover, she has lived in Ireland, UK, Bermuda and the Isle of Man. 

Marilyn Sheridan