Moonstone Gemstones - A fantastic display of shimmering light
The moonstone, is one of the gemstones in the world that has a fantastic display of shimmering light on its surface. The fact that it has this enchanting display of light is the reason why it is christened the Moonstone. The stone displays a shimmer that seems to move every time the stone is moved, a characteristic that is called adularescence. In ancient times, owners of the stone used to say that they could see the crescent of the moon on the stone, as well as the various phases.
Sri Lanka is the classic origin of the moonstone, and the shimmer of light is pale blue, and the background is almost transparent. Those that come from India have an unclear interaction of shadow and light against a backdrop of green, orange, brown and beige-brown. The soft colors and the shimmer are what make the moonstone the perfect gemstone for ladies to wear. During the period of Art Nouveau, about a hundred years ago, this was a very popular gemstone. The French master Rene Lalique, who dealt with a lot of gold jewelry, used the moonstone in many of his creations, and many can be found in museums and collections today.
This is a gemstone that inspires mystique and a sense of magic. In India, as well as other cultures, this is a stone thought to be holy, and have divine powers. They are used as dream stones in India, which allow the wearer to have wonderful dreams at night. They are sewn into garments by women in the Arab world, since they believe that it enhances fertility.
This is a stone that enhances emotional and subconscious ability, and it is said to be a lower´s stone, which brings about feelings of happiness and tenderness between couples. When you wear the moonstone, you will have better intuition and understanding.
What moonstones are and their origin
Moonstones belongs to a large mineral group called Feldspar, which comprises of about two thirds of all the rocks found on Earth. This type of feldspar also goes by the name Adularia, which is found mainly in the European Alps, near the Adula group, and hence the name. It is a potassium aluminosilicate of gemstone quality, which also goes by the synonym Selenite, a name derived from the Greek name for the moon, Selene.
When they are uncut, moonstones do not have the beauty that they gain when they are cut. When an experienced cutter works on the rough, he is able to bring out the shimmer which is associated with this stone. Usually, moonstones are cut as cabochons, and the most important aspect is the height of the cut stone. The axes of the stone have to be properly aligned to the zenith of the stone, and this is the only way that the full magnificence of the stone can be brought to the fore.
Classical moonstones which have near-perfect clarity and have the eerie pale blue color of the moon, come from Sri Lanka. They are also mined in Brazil, USA, Myanmar, Madagascar and Australia. Prices of these stones have gone up, since they are becoming rarer as deposits decrease. Moonstones can also be found in the Austrian Alps, Norway and Poland. In the United States of America, it is considered to be the official gemstone of Florida, and it commemorates the moon landing which were launched in the state. Although it is the official gemstone of Florida, it is not naturally mined here.
The market has seen an increase in Brown, Orange and Green moonstones, with some of them having a smoky color, and others looking like a glass of champagne; some have red colors, and some are purely black, with these coming from India. There are moonstone that have the cat´s eye effect, or the four-pointed star, all of which have the mysterious shimmer of light. The stone are also cut into wonderful cameos, or engraved with children´s faces; other shapes are those of the moon, and others can only be said to be grotesque. All these stones have the beautiful shimmer of light which make them stand out when they are used to make beads and necklaces.
The origin of the mysterious shimmer of light
In the world of gemstones, the shimmer of the moonstones is a source of a lot of fascination. This feature, called adularisation, is caused by the lamellar formation of the crystals of the stone. The rays of light are scattered within the stone, bringing about this fascinating display of light.
Although this gemstone is highly valued, it has a low hardness of only 6 on the Mohs scale, and for this reason, the stone has to be handled with a lot of care. The stone also has minor flaws, which could not be remedied in the past, but can be cleared through treatment today. When it loses its shimmer, the gemstone can be re-polished so that the shimmer is restored.
3D color and aura of seduction
The prices of moonstones vary greatly, and this is brought about by the various intensities of color in the stone. The intensity, size and clarity are major determinants of the price. It is possible to see a 3D display of color in some of the finer blue moonstones, and this is only seen when the stone is moved around; the stones with 3D color are highly valued, and they are very rare. However, the colorful specimens from India are not highly valued, and their prices are more reasonable when compared to those from Sri Lanka. This allows people to buy moonstones based on the budgets and styles that they have.
Moonstones have a seductive and sensual aura and are considered to be treasures of nature. They are stones that deserve to be admired and gazed at, and they love to be moved around a lot so they can display their magnificence. Treating moonstones in this way, allows the stone to stand out proudly when worn as an adornment.
The Etymology of Moonstones
The name of this gemstone is derived from the visual effect, or sheen that is caused by the diffraction of light within the structure of the stone, which is made of layers of feldspar crystals.
The History of Moonstone gemstones
For centuries, several ancient civilizations have used the moonstone to adorn themselves. To the Romans, this gemstone was believed to have been made from solidified rays coming from the moon. Greeks, and the Romans, associated the stone with lunar gods. The stone became very popular during the Art Nouveau period, and was popularized by the French Goldsmith, known as Rene Lalique, and many others after that.
The Geology of moonstone jewelry stones
The region known as St Gotthard, was the earliest origin of moonstones, and it is on Mt. Adula, which is art of the European Alps; the mineral is called Adularia, after this region. Moonstone can also be found in the plagioclase feldspar, oligoclase. The gemstone is actually a pearly and opalescent schiller, which is also known as hecatolite.
The formation of moonstone gemstones
This gemstone is made if two types of feldspar, albite and orthoclase, which are intermingled. As the mineral cools down, the two feldspar types are layers into stacks. The light passing through these thin layers, scatters in several direction, and this brings about the shimmering displays that is known as adularescence.
A profile of moonstones
Around the turn of the 20th Century, in a period known as the Rat Nouveau period, the moonstone was popularized by renowned goldsmith Rene Lalique, who designed jewelry insured by nature and used the moonstone in it. For Christmas, in 1906, the Grand Duke of Hesse, Ernst Ludwig, gave Princess Eleonore, his wife, a fantastic Russian Tiara, which had coronets of turquoise and moonstones, which were curled around a base made of diamonds. She is said to have worn it in several occasion until the year 1937, when many member of this royal family dies in a plane accident. The tiara was stored in a strong box in the plane, and it was preserved and can be seen at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Although moonstones are now gaining popularity once again for jewelry, they were used, for thousands of years for various decorative purposes. Important buildings in Sri Lanka have steps which have a half-moon shape, which are known in history as moonstone steps. This is a features that can also be found in many mosaics in Buddhist temples such as the renowned Moonstone Temple in Anuradhapura. This temple was built in 100 BC, and the moonstones have long been stolen, but the ruins can still be seen. In India, moonstones are regarded as sacred and are placed on the holy yellow-colored cloth, which is highly regarded in their culture.
What to know when buying moonstone
When you are buying moonstones, and want the fine blue specimens from Sri Lanka, you may have to wait for quite a long while, because the main vein that had this famous gemstone has been depleted. What you can easily get are mainly, run-of-the-mill moonstones which are milky, and look like milk of magnesia. The blue sheen moonstones have ling ben treasured in Europe. These are stones which are crystal clear at their best and have a blue sheen or adularescence which seems to float on the surface of the stone.
About a decade ago, there was an abundance of the blue sheen moonstones and buyers could access them for prices which can only be compared to those of the most affordable gems today. Today, the same gemstones go for prices which are up to 10 times what they used to be a decade ago. There is nothing that collectors can do. The blue sheen moonstones were solely found on Sri Lanka, in a place called Meetiyagoda, and the production ceased in 1987.
One company that import beads and cabochons in New York states that most dealers only have small stone specimens, with are suitable for collections and not for making jewelry. This means that people who want large sized stones, will have to wait for those that have been in estates and antique collections, and not freshly mined stones.
The news of the loss of availability of moonstones has put jewelers in a bit of a dilemma. The moonstone is a birthstone for the month of June, and is usually considered as a replacement for pearl in America. In Europe, the moonstone is used as a replacement for pearls.
Connoisseurs of moonstones usually look for two things when they are buying these stones; they must have a lot of sheen, and have great body. What is described as ideal when it comes to these stones is the color of the body; it has to be completely clear, and it must have a sheen that is sky blue, and haunting in the way that it moves across the dome or table of a cut stone when it is moved against the light.
When it comes to the ideal moonstone, it is very rare to get one. As proclaimed by a moonstone experts, out of about 100 moonstones coming out of Sri Lanka, only one can be said to have the magnificent blue color that most people go for. A long time ago, Burma, now Myanmar, was a huge producer of the blue sheen moonstones, and they did not see the need to stretch the term too far. However, this country, just like Sri Lanka, cannot be relied upon as a continuous source of these beautiful blue stones. Mexico, Tanzania, and America, amongst other countries, also produce these stones, but in sparse amounts, and they cannot be classified as the ideal blue moonstones.
This situation has left collectors and other buyers with no other option but to settle for lower grade moonstones. This term should not be taken literally, since some of the milky blue stones, and others that look like the beard of an old man, can also be very beautiful. They has a lustrous and soft appearance, and this is the reason why many jewelers all over the world have been replacing pearls with these moonstones, which are relatively lower-priced. The lower cost is a consoling factor for most buyers, and the price goes lower when the stones have an increasingly brownish tint. The stones which also show centipedes feet are also lower in price. One can also use the moonstone, said to have a dessert blue sheen, as a replacement of the special effect moonstones. Other feldspars can also be used.
Rainbows, Eyes and Stars
There are moonstones, which have a prominent body color but have a lot of cloudiness within them, which are cut into cabochons having high domes, ensuring that their sheen comes together at the top of the dome, in a silver-white band that resembles a cat´s eye. These are christened cat´s eye moonstones and can be found in large sizes ranging from 10 to 20 carats. There are times when the cat´s eye is crossed by a second band of light, intersecting it at a right angle, and exhibit a star-shaped display of light. Dealers and buyers call these stones, star moonstones, which sometimes have cross-shaped eyes.
Anyone who is having a hard time finding moonstones can now consider a new moonstone variety that comes from India, known as the rainbow moonstone; this is a moonstone variety that has a multi-colored adularescence on the surface. The finest of these stones have a reddish orange sheen which is sometime lavender, and has areas that exhibit a green or blue color.
Rainbow moonstones, in their finest qualities and large sizes, are quite rare, and they have only been in the market for a few years. These have already gained as much demand as that of the blue sheen moonstones, which is quite amazing when you consider that this is a little-known variety of this gemstone.
Caring for moonstones
The best way to clean moonstones is to use warm and soapy water and rub using a soft cloth or brush. Sudden changes in temperature or excessive heat may make the moonstone crack just like glass would; this means that you should not use steam cleaners on this gemstone. You should also not use ultrasonic cleaners to clean this gemstone. The stones have a cleavage that runs in two directions and this means that they should be mounted in settings that keep them stone away from direct knocks.
Colors of moonstones
The word magical, is a word that has always been used to describe the colors of moonstones. Basically, the body color of moonstones is considered colorless, and these include white, clear, gray and at times, a very light and pale yellow. The word "colorless" becomes a misnomer when you consider the light blue adularescence that moves across the surface of the moonstone. These stones can also be green or brown in color.
Value of moonstones
As mentioned earlier, the most precious moonstones are colorless and are clear to the eye, or have faint inclusions. They should be glassy in nature or semi-transparent. All these stones must have a blue sheen, called adularescence running along the surface of the stone when it is moved. The body color and sheen are not the only factors considered in the valuation of these stones; the orientation of the sheen is very important. The sheen should be found at the top of the stone, and should be seen from all sides of the stone; this is where the skill of the cutter is tested. The larger the moonstone cabochons, the more precious they are.
Speaking scientifically, the moonstone can be described as an orthoclase feldspar, which displays adularescence. However, this is a definition that does not fully describe this stone. When you look at a moonstone, you are reminded of the way the moon shines in the sky, and this allows you to understand how it got its name. The write, Pliny the Elder, wrote in his record of natural history, about start stones which he called astrions; these stones are believed to be what are now known as star moonstones which actually produce the asterism effect. He says that an astrion is a gemstone which captured a bright star within it, and also thought it is a rock crystal, it manifests a brilliant blue sheen around the surface, and there is a bright star radiating from the center of the stone, which mimics that full brilliant nature of the full moon.
Usually, this is a gemstone that is set in pendants, earrings and rings, but lower grades are used to make beads for necklaces. Healers say that the stone can be used to align vertebrae, and also improves the function of the digestive system; it also balances emotions in women, and helps them get peace. The stone is said to provide protection to children and their mothers, and it is also said to affect the planting season, and the movement of the ocean tides. In China, it is said to balance the Yin and Tang, which brings good luck to the wearer. It is also highly valued as a stone that enhances good relationships between couples.
Moonstones do have tiny inclusions in their structure, which are actually tensions cracks, and are called centipedes, since they look like the minute multiple legs of a centipede.
Moonstones are valuable gemstones that have a rich history, are quite rare and anyone getting one should treasure it very much.