Moonstone
 
June Birthstone.  Moonstone is characterised by an enchanting play of light.   Ancient Romans theorized that Moonstone, with its unearthly shimmer, was formed from frozen moonlight.  This appealing gem variety's shine is caused by the mineral feldspar.   The schiller or adularescence (shimmer) is caused by the intergrowth of two different types of feldspar, each with a different refractive index.
 
Appearing in a variety of colors, Moonstone's body color can range from colorless to gray, brown, yellow, green, or pink.   Stone clarity can range from transparent to translucent.   The best Moonstone has a blue sheen, perfect clarity, and a colorless body color.   A related feldspar variety is known as Rainbow Moonstone.    This variety's  sheen displays a rainbow of hues, from pink to yellow, to peach, purple, and blue.
 
Fine Moonstone is quite rare and becoming rarer.   It is mined in Sri Lanka and Southern India, while the rainbow variety can be found in India and Madagascar.   Most Moonstones are cut in a smooth-domed oval cabochon shape to maximize the effect.   Sometimes, they are carved to show a man-in-the-moon face.
 
Moonstone is a semitranslucent to translucent orthoclase feldspar that exhibits adularescents (a floating, billowy, white or bluish light effect seen in certain directions as the stone is turned).    The Moonstone from its country of recorded origin, Sri Lanka, shimmers in pale blue on an almost transparent background.   Specimens from India feature a nebulous interplay of light and shadow on a background of beige-brown, green, orange or brown.    Having gained popularity during the Art Nouveau period, it adorns a large number of the jewelry designed by the French master goldsmith René Lalique and his contemporaries.   Today, it is found primarily in museums and collections.
 
A good deal of mystique and magic surrounded this gemstone.   In many cultures, for example India, it is regarded as a holy, magical gemstone.   In India, Moonstones are also regarded as 'dream stones' which bring the wearer beautiful visions at night.   Women, in Arabic countries, often wear Moonstones sewn into their undergarments, for in their culture it is a symbol of fertility.
 
 
What Are Moonstones and Where Do They Come From?
 
This enchanting gemstone belongs to the large mineral group of the feldspars of which almost two thirds of all the rocks on Earth consist. Moonstone is actually the feldspar variety known as 'adularia', a potassium aluminosilicate of gemstone quality, which is also found in the European Alps near the Adula Group – hence the name 'adularia'.  Another synonym for Moonstone is 'selenite', from the Greek 'selene' ('moon').
 
In their uncut state, Moonstones are rather unprepossessing and afford little idea of  that which actually constitutes their charm:  that mysterious shimmer of light.  That shimmer is not really shown to advantage until the art of the cutter has been brought to bear. Classical moonstones are always cut as cabochons, the most important consideration being the correct height of the stone.  Also, the cutter must align the axes of the crystal precisely into the zenith of the stone, as that is the only way in which he will bring about the desired light effect.
 
Traditionally, the classical Moonstones, almost transparent and with their bluish shimmer, come from Sri Lanka.  However, they are also found in the USA, Brazil, Australia, Myanmar and Madagascar.  Since bluish Moonstones of good quality have been becoming more and more of a rarity in recent years, prices have risen sharply.
 
For a few years, there have also been some green, brown and orange specimens on the market, as well as some with a smoky color, some the color of champagne, some black and some reddish ones, mainly originating from India.  Some Moonstones have a cat's eye effect or a four-spoked star, as well as the typical undulating shimmer of light.  These stones are not only cut as cabochons, but also as artistic cameos or engraved with the faces of children, the moon or grotesques.  Even these engraved stones have the shimmer of light typical of the Moonstone, as do the beads which are cut from suitable raw material for gemstone necklaces.
 
Where Does This Strange Shimmer of Light Come From?
 
The shimmer of light of the Moonstone is something very special in the fascinating world of gemstones.  Specialists refer to the phenomenon as 'adularisation' caused by the lamellar inner construction of the gemstone.  Incident light rays are refracted and scattered in the stone.  In this way, a unique light effect happens, and it is this which makes the Moonstone so distinctive and desirable.
 
However, this beautiful gemstone does have one weak point; its relatively low hardness of only 6 on the Mohs scale.  As they are sensitive, Moonstones should be handled with care.  Having said that, minor flaws that may occur when the stone has been worn for some time are quite easy to remedy.  A jeweler can have a Moonstone which has grown matt re-polished, after which it will shimmer again just as it did on the very first day.
 
Three-Dimensional Color
 
When purchasing moonstone jewelry, you will come across the most astonishing price differences. The more intense in color, the larger and the more transparent, the more highly valued the Moonstone.  Really fine blue specimens display an incredible 'three-dimensional' depth of color which the observer does not really come to recognize until the stone is moved about in a playful way.  Specimens of that kind are highly esteemed due to their rarity, and their prices are correspondingly high. The colorful Indian Moonstones, on the other hand, are not only very much in fashion, they are also, as a rule, somewhat more reasonably priced than classical blue Moonstones.  Thus, today, anyone can select the Moonstone to suit his or her taste and pocketbook.
 
 
 
 
 
GB Jewelers, Inc.
Under the Clock Tower
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Warrenton, OR 97146
800-869-1481

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