Moonstone, belonging to the feldspar group, is one of the best-known gems of this variety. It is famous for its characteristic play of light, called adularsecense, due to the way its appearance changes according to the angle from which it is viewed. This gem is also known as ‘chandarkant’ meaning moon like.
Hardness: Moonstone has a rating of 6-6.5 on the Mohs hardness scale.
Color: A moonstone can be found in numerous colors, including green, blue, grey, pink, white, and brown. Moonstone is composed of two feldspar species, which are intermingled. These two species are orthoclase and albite. When the newly formed mineral cools, the orthoclase and albite separate into stacked, alternating layers. Adularsecense occurs when light falls between these thin, flat layers, and scatters in many directions. Moonstone can also exhibit iridescent flashes of blue, red, gold, green and white and this particular effect produces a special variety of moonstone, called rainbow moonstone. Various regions produce the different colors of moonstones. Moonstones from Sri Lanka, which is the original country of known moonstone, can be found in a pale blue shimmer on a nearly transparent background. India produces an interplay of light and shadow on a beige, green, orange or brown background. The higher quality moonstones have a high degree of shimmer.
Birthstone: Along with Pearl, moonstone is known as the birthstone for June.
Scarcity: Most moonstone is plentiful and easily found in the marketplace. The only variety that has become scarce is the high quality bluish moonstones.
Value: The most valuable moonstone is one that displays a vivid blue adularsecense with a semi-transparent to transparent background and does not have visible inclusions. This blue variety is becoming more and more scarce and recently prices have risen sharply. Any discrepancy in the above factors (different color background, shimmer or flaws) will cause the price of the gem to decrease.
Most Common Cuts: A moonstone gem must be cut in a dome shape, also known as a cabochon cut, to display its adularsecense well. The cutter must also align the axes of the stone precisely into the zenith of the stone, because that is the only way in which the desired light affect can be achieved. Some other moonstones are cut to display a four-spoked star or a cat eye effect.
Chemical Formula: Moonstone is a potassium aluminum silicate with the chemical formula (K2O Al 2 O3 6 SiO2).
Synthetic Varieties: Some gemstones resemble moonstone – chalcedony, fibrolite and heat-treated synthetic white spinel. Most synthetic varieties of moonstone are very close to the same price as non-treated moonstone, and are therefore not worth the trouble to manufacture.
History: Moonstone has a long history, and was most likely first used in AD 100 to make Roman jewelry. The Romans greatly admired moonstone because they believed it was created from solidified rays of the moon. The bright white spot that appears to move as the stone is rotated was believed to be a reflection of the moon that waxed and waned in harmony with lunar movement. Ancient Roman and Greek civilizations felt that the moon possessed important powers and they associated the gem with their lunar gods and goddesses.
Traditionally, Sri Lanka was known to produce the finest moonstones. According to Sri Lankan tradition, the Moonstone Temple in Anuradhapura that prospered for 1,300 years until it was invaded in 993 AD, had moonstone steps faced with mosaics of moonstone. Sri Lanka is still one of the most popular sites for mining this gemstone, today. Deposits of moonstone have also been found in Brazil, Australia, Switzerland, Brazil, Mexico, India, Madagascar, Burma, Norway, Poland, Russia, and the United States. It is currently the state gem for Florida. Today, moonstones are used to make dazzling moonstone jewelry like rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces.
Rumored Healing Properties: In most countries where moonstone is worn, it is considered a strongly feminine stone. Some even consider it a symbol of fertility and in Arabic countries some women sew the gemstone into their garments, in the hope that it will help them bear children. In India, moonstone is considered sacred and some believe that it holds a special significance for lovers by evoking tender feelings and safeguarding the true joys of their love.
Some believe that moonstone will bring a dreamer beautiful visions, enhance intuition, promote inspiration and bring good fortune. Others believe that wearing a moonstone will strengthen their emotional capabilities and their capability to understand others intentions. It is thought that the most influential time to use a moonstone is during a full moon.
Moonstone is also said to help with many physical ailments such as imbalance in hormones, menstrual problems, epileptic seizures, digestive issues and nose bleeds.