June babies are lucky. In addition to being born during a lovely time of the year, they have a selection of three gorgeous gemstones from which to choose for their birthstone: alexandrite, moonstone, and freshwater pearl. Interested in what sets these gems apart? Keep reading for my June birthstone report…
The most rare (and most valuable) of the June varieties, alexandrite is from the same mineral species as emerald, morganite, and aquamarine – chrysoberyl. It was discovered in Russia’s Ural Mountains in the 1830s and it derives its name from Alexander II, then the heir apparent to the Russian throne. What really differentiates alexandrite is its unique color-changing qualities, shifting from light green to deep red depending upon the angle at which light hits its facets. The original Russian mines yielded the finest alexandrite rough displaying the most consistent and vibrant color-changing qualities. Unfortunately, however, these mines are now out of commission so the only way to find Russian alexandrite is by sourcing the exquisite heirloom jewelry in which it was set. Not to worry, though: Alexandrite is now mined in Sri Lanka, Brazil, and East Africa and you can find lab-created versions of the gem if you’re into alternatives — a good option since Alexandrite can be extremely expensive due to its rareness.
Moonstone is a lovely gemstone of the feldspar species that I particularly covet for its neutral yet luminescent qualities. You have probably seen moonstone in some form. As a semiprecious gemstone with varying degrees of quality, moonstone is sometimes used in costume jewelry as well as in some extraordinary fine pieces. Indeed, it’s this flexibility that I love about it: you can dress it up or down and it’s always an interesting, subtly beautiful addition to your collection.
The finest moonstone shows a blue sheen against a transparent background. This vintage ring from our showroom dates to the 1930s and displays this very fine quality of moonstone with its “glow-from-within” and cloud-free texture. The gemstone has been used in jewelry for centuries but it was especially coveted in Art Nouveau design, which emphasized an ethereal, organic aesthetic. Today, it’s a lovely alternative to a more color-saturated option and the price point makes it a great option for an elevated take on a daily staple.
Despite their reputation for feeling dated, pearls are making a serious comeback in some really interesting designs. I personally love pearls for their understated luster and particularly prefer them set in a clean, contemporary yellow gold setting to warm them up. Pearls can vary immensely in quality and price. A truly fine quality pearl displays a luminescent nacre that not only adds to its luster but also serves to protect the pearl while you wear it. Pearls with less nacre, whether due to being of an inferior quality or due to age, will show as less iridescent and be prone to cracking over time.
If you’re worried about wearing and damaging your pearls, know this: pearls improve with wear. The oils from your skin actually help keep the nacre from drying out and cracking and help buff the surface lightly. Pearls connote innocence and simplicity, a good reason for making them the gemstone for June, the standard start of the clean-slate summer we all crave.
If you have a birthday coming up (or have one to shop for), stop by our showroom for ideas. We would love to walk you through the many, many options available to June babies and help you pick out that perfect something special.
Alexandria & Company is an Old Town-based workshop and design studio specializing in creating and restoring fine jewelry and silver hollowware. They are the in-the-know jewelers of Alexandria and have been serving clients out of their small workshop for decades. Tucked in their historic building on South Royal Street, the team at Alx&Co. brings a personalized, modern approach to their craft – this is not your average stodgy jeweler or antique shop. Visit them during their walk-in hours or online to view their collection of handmade fine jewelry or to drop off a repair project; or, if you’re feeling creative, make an appointment to talk about that custom design project you’ve been imagining.
121-B South Royal Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Design Studio Walk-In Hours (all jewelry services): Wednesday – Saturday 12-6pm
Silver Workshop Walk-In Hours (all silver repair and restoration services): Wednesday or Friday 12-6pm, or by appointment
Appointments encouraged for custom design.