June has three traditional birthstones - pearls, moonstone and alexandrite.
According to Indian mythology, pearls were dewdrops from heaven that fell into the sea and were caught by shellfish under the first rays of the rising sun. Swords were encrusted with pearls by warriors to symbolize the tears that a sword brings.
A pearl is created when an irritant, maybe a small fragment of rock, sand or parasite, enters an oyster or a clam. It irritates the mollusc and coats the irritant with many layers of shell material. The colour of the pearl depends on the type of mollusc and its environment - most common is white but they also come in delicate shades of cream, grey, black, lavender, green, yellow and mauve.
When a moonstone is moved back and forth, silvery rays glint like moonbeams over water. Pliny, the ancient Roman natural historian, said that moonstone changed in appearance with the phases of the moon and this belief carried on until the sixteenth century.
Moonstones were believed to have the power to bring victory, health, and wisdom to those who wore it.
Alexandrite is an uncommon stone and so very expensive. It is named after Prince Alexander of Russia, later Czar Alexander II, and was discovered on the prince's birthday in 1839, in an emerald mine in the Ural mountains. Alexandrite is unusual in that in daylight, it appears as a beautiful green, sometimes with a bluish tint, while under artificial lighting, the stone turns violet.