The birthstone of the month of June is the Pearl. The word pearl comes from the Latin word "pirum", which means pear and refers to the shape of the "stone". I say "stone", because pearls aren't really stones; they are formed whenever an irritant, which can be anything from a parasite to a small fish, lodges in the flesh of an oyster, mussel, or clam, which leads to the production of a protective substance called nacre. Over the years one layer after another coats the intruder, creating a pearl. However, just like with any stone, there are many myths surrounding the creation of the pearl. For example, the Greeks believed the pearl is a hardened tear of joy which the goddess of love, Aphrodite, shed when she was born from the sea. Arab legend has it that the pearl came from oysters that were lured through the ocean by the moon and that swallowed moonlit dewdrops.
The pearl, which was once only be allowed to be worn by royals, stands for loyalty, faithfulness and friendship, as well as modesty, chastity and purity. The pearl is said to help with any problems related to the heart, spleen and stomach. They are also often ground up to be used beauty products. Natural pearls come in many colors such as white, pink, lilac, cream, gray, black, and gold and can be found in saltwater as well as freshwater. The color and shade of the pearl depends on the oyster or mussel as well as the geographic location of the water it was found in.One of the most well-known and beautiful pearls is La Peregrina, "The Wanderer," a gem which was found over four hundred years ago in Panama by a slave who was said to have been given his freedom in return for this extraordinary pearl. It was then sent to King Philip II of Spain by his conquistadors in 1570. The pearl, which weighs over twenty-seven carats and is about one and a half inches long, was given to Mary I of England and then to Prince Louis Napoleon of France, who sold it to a British Marquis to raise needed cash. It disappeared for a period and in 1969 was bought by Richard Burton as a birthday gift for Elizabeth Taylor.