Moonstone is of the feldspar group within the orthoclase mineral family, and forms as magma loses temperature. When molten rock cools, the minerals orthoclase and albite separate into thin alternating layers. This structure forces light to scatter throughout each layer to create a billowing white to blue glow that dances across the stone's surface.
This captivating phenomena is called adularescence and the stronger and bluer the optic display, the more valuable. Moonstone is typically colorless, but can occur in a wide range of soft pastel colors.
The gem is readily available and mined globally in Sri Lanka, India, Australia, Brazil, and elsewhere.
History And Lore
Moonstone's display has an enigmatic ethereal feel that has fascinated for centuries. Our predecessors believed the cosmic power of the moon was captured within the gem and radiated its lunar glow. For ancient Greeks, the stone was associated with the goddess of the moon, Artemis. Moonstone was given as an offering to her in hopes to bring prosperous crops, good fortune, and fertility.
The original mining place for moonstone was off the southern coast of India at the island of Sri Lanka, and is still a lucrative source even today. The stone became culturally significant and was believed to have been created during the celestial fight between Lord Vishnu and the god Bali. In ancient Sanskrit moonstone was referred to as 'chandrakanta' to mean "beloved moon".
Moonstones are typically fashioned into cabochons to fully display mesmerizing adularescence. The gem is also popular to carve, often depicting mythological figures or the man-in-the-moon motif.
Moonstone was quite fashionable during the Art Nouveau era and Arts & Crafts movement. The gem perfectly embodied the natural influence being depicted in works by René Lalique and Louis Comfort Tiffany.
Moonstone is the traditional birthstone for June along with pearl.
Moonstone is a durable gem that can be cleaned with warm soapy water and a soft bristled brush. When storing it should be wrapped in a soft cloth to prevent being scratched by harder gems such as diamond and sapphire. Avoid harsh chemicals when wearing moonstone or any kind of jewelry.