What’s in a Pearl? June’s Luminary Birthstone

 In Inspiration

I’ve been a member of the International Light Association for 20 years due to my interest in color and light as seen through the lens of precious gems. In 2018, I was invited to present “Body Brilliant”, a Gem Resonance workshop at their international conference in Oslo, Norway. Though most presenters are cutting edge scientists, lighting designers, and health professionals from all over the world, they find my artful studies viable and fascinating.

I am a founding member of the North American chapter called ILA-NA and this year we are opening membership to anyone interested in learning about the application of light, sound, and color technologies in architecture, medicine, and health. I was asked to write an article for ILA’s June newsletter about this month’s birthstone, Pearl, which is included below.


Top left: Gold South Sea Pearl set on Sunset colored Keshi Pearl with Rutilated Quartz, 14KT Yellow Gold brooch/slide. 
Top Right: Fossilized Opal Clam Shell, Pink Spinel, Saltwater Pink Pearl, set in 14KT Rose Gold Brooch/Pendant. 
Bottom: Purple Freshwater Petal Pearl, Morganite, Champagne Diamond, 14KT Rose Gold Enhancer on a strand of white saltwater pearls and pink metallic freshwater pearls. 

In my art jewelry I love designing with pearls of all kinds. The most iconic use of pearls are the perfectly round white necklace strands, but more intriguing to me are the oddities; the weird shapes that form from non-nucleated pearls with iridescent overtones of rose, blue or green luster. Pairing these unique pearls with a natural gemstone creates a succinct language of light, where something more than beauty occurs, within, without, and all around us.

Any pearl’s mesmerizing outer surface belies a long struggle with something that at first felt alien and threatening. Natural Pearls are caused by the reaction a mollusk has to an irritant like a grain of sand.  To address this irritation, an oyster, clam or mussel secretes nacre the same color as the inner lip of its shell.  The nacre smooths and surrounds the debris, bathing it continuously to reduce internal friction. Over years the nacre builds layers that create the lustrous substance that we recognize as Pearl.  Because a pearl emerges as the “solution” between an invasive force and its environment, these inherent qualities can be absorbed as calming energy radiating into the human body.  It is even said that Cleopatra plucked a precious pearl from her earring, ground it up, popped it into her wine and drank it to entice Caesar.

My observation is that in addition to emitting peace and romance, all trace elements in jewels resonate automatically with the trace elements in our bodies, opening energy pathways between the various organ systems. In pearl, the trace elements of calcium(Ca) and strontium(Sr) are the same minerals that support bone growth and protect against osteoporosis in humans. I’ve been conducting research for many years on the phenomenon of gemstone resonance, focusing on the beneficial aspects inherent in a crystalline structure when used in conjunction with applied light on a person. I offer individual sessions and workshops as a means of grounding and as a design tool to create therapeutic jewelry in collaboration with the clients’ health needs.  In this application I often use a pearl as a conduit to reduce inflammation.

Furthermore, trace elements in the water and diet affect the mollusk, and subsequently, the pearl’s particular hue. For example, copper = golden yellow;   silver = creamy yellow; sodium = peach;  zinc = pink, bronze or lavender. These overtones are due to overlapping translucent crystalline layers containing aragonite and conchiolin, the microscopic pigmented glue holding the aragonite layers together. When white light strikes and penetrates the surface of the pearl and its layers, the light beam is refracted back at the viewer in its entire spectrum, allowing the viewer to see the colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet. Some naturally unattractive freshwater pearls are artificially dyed after the oyster is dead, greatly reducing pearl cost while dulling its energetic vitality.  In general saltwater pearls are never dyed and also emit more natural energy because of the ocean’s added mineral content.

A pearl is seen as a symbol of the Moon offering light in darkness. It is said that a pearl knows the moon like no other, organized by its pull of gravity and tidal force. Formation in saline fluidity evokes faint memory from our time spent in the womb. Try wearing pearls and notice the subtle difference in your mood.  Maybe Kamala Harris always wears pearls to remain calm?   Everyone needs a pearl or two in their life, even if you only carry it in your pocket.

In Pearl We Tryst, and We Trust,
Lainey Papageorge for ILA-NA

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