Along with the pearl and alexandrite, moonstone is a birthstone for June. There are a lot of interesting facts about the stone, which is a variety of the feldspar-group mineral orthoclase, and tons of beautiful moonstone jewelry pieces to choose from for an out of this world look.
Moonstone’s glow is caused by light scattering between microscopic layers of feldspar. The minerals orthoclase and albite are first combined and then, as the newly formed mineral cools, the two minerals separate into stacked, alternating layers. The stacked layers diffract light, creating moonstone’s adularescence, which is the light that appears across a gemstone, giving its surface a glowing appearance.
The minerals in the feldspar family make up more than half of the Earth’s crust. Pick up a rock anywhere in the world, and you’re bound to find that it contains a mineral from the feldspar group.
On the Mohs hardness scale, moonstone ranks 6.0 to 6.5. Because of its poor toughness it may crack when exposed to high heat.
It’s less durable than sapphire, diamond or amethyst. It is also vulnerable to scratching or chipping if hit against a hard surface. Wearing moonstone rings during sports or at the gym isn’t recommended, but with proper care it can be worn for years without any problems.
Because of its vunerability, ultrasonic and steam cleaners should not be used to clean moonstone. Instead, the best option for cleaning is warm, soapy water with a soft brush.
Color: The finest, and most valuable moonstone is a glassy, colorless gem with a blue sheen. But moonstone is also available in green, peach, brown, and gray with blue, silver, white or rainbow adularescence.
Clarity: Moonstones may include tiny tension cracks called centipedes. While a moonstone that is almost transparent, and almost totally free of inclusions, is usually preferred, a slight translucency helps accentuate the adularescence.
Cut: Cabochon (a smooth domed shape) is the common cut for moonstone because it best displays moonstone’s adularescence.
Carat: Moonstone comes in a wide range of sizes and carats but good quality moonstone is hard to find in large sizes and its value increases as a result.
According to Hindu mythology, moonstone is made of solidified moonbeams. Many cultures in fact associate this gem with moonlight, but also love, passion and fertility. It is also believed to bring great luck.
Adularescent moonstone was once called “adularia,” a name that originated with a city in Switzerland, Mt. Adular (now St. Gotthard), that was one of the first sources of high quality moonstone.
The gem was featured in custom jewelry by great designers of the romantic Art Nouveau era, and it was also a favorite among artisans of the Arts and Crafts era in the last half of the nineteenth century, who used it in handcrafted silver items.
It was also popular during the 1960s “flower child” movement, giving wearers an ethereal look, and designers of the 1990s New Age movement also turned to moonstone for inspiration.
Moonstone can be found in a wide variety of places including parts of the United States, such as New Mexico, North Carolina and Virginia. The most prominent world locations for moonstone are India and Sri Lanka, but sources also include Brazil, India, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Myanmar and Tanzania.