Pearl delights: The best birthstone jewels for June

There are few gems more fascinating than the noble pearl, the birthstone for June. Traditionally spherical in shape, these lustrous orbs are the only gem formed by a living organism, which makes their existence all the more miraculous. While not so long ago pearls had a reputation for being prim and proper, today they are being celebrated once again, with many designers putting these shimmering gems centre stage in spectacular jewels with standout appeal.

In ancient times pearls were believed to have magical powers and their luminescent beauty has enchanted throughout the ages. In classical Rome, pearls were considered the ultimate status symbol and they were equally prized in Ancient Egypt. According to legend, Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt, removed an enormous pearl from her earring – one of a pair that were the largest in the land – dissolved it in vinegar and then drank it, thus winning a wager she had with her lover, Marc Anthony, that she could host the most lavish banquet in history. The oldest known gem and, for centuries, the most valuable, pearls continue to be the epitome of femininity.

Before the advent of cultured pearls, the only way to discover pearls was to dive down and retrieve oyster shells from the seabed – a practice that has been taking place for thousands of years. A perilous profession, discovering a silky orb hidden within a shell was an extremely rare occurrence, which earned the pearl its reputation as the Queen of Gems. It was only when, in 1893, Kokichi Mikimoto succeeded in producing the world’s first spherical cultured pearl that these gems came to be appreciated by a wider audience. Today, Mikimoto remains one of the most respected names in cultured pearl jewellery and natural pearls continue to be celebrated for their scarcity.

Mike Joseph pearl earrings and ring set with diamonds

What I love the most about pearls is their endless variety. From purest white to deepest black, gleaming gold to delicate pink, there is a pearl to suit all personalities, and if you feel that a round pearl is too traditional for you, there are wonderful baroque pearls that come in all shapes and sizes. Beautiful freaks of nature, their sculptural silhouettes are captivating reminders that you can’t predict what you are going to find when you prise open an oyster shell. Browse our gallery and discover the brands and designers who are creating some of the most exquisite pearl jewellery in the world.

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