Geology Home Page physical geology historical geology planetary gems
Roger Weller, geology instructor
by Bryan Chavez
Moonstone and Its History
Rainbow moonstone pendants (Photo courtesy of Roger Weller/Cochise College)
How moonstones are naturally formed:
Besides being the birthstone for the month of June and the stone traditionally given as a celebratory gift of a 13th anniversary of a marriage, Moonstone is a member of the feldspar gem family and it belongs to the feldspar-group known as orthoclase. It is composed of two other feldspar minerals orthoclase and albite. The two minerals are mixed together when heated and upon cooling, they separate into stacked alternating layers. And due to being feldspar, these gems can be found in quite abundance worldwide. The gem has many colors and shapes like many other gems. It comes in Blue, green peach, brown, and gray sheen with blue, silver, white, or rainbow adularescence. Most Moonstone gems are cut into smooth domed cuts called cabochon which best shows its adularescence. However, Faceted cut moonstone is becoming rather popular recently.
How to tell real moonstones from imitations:
There are gems that can be mistaken for Moonstones. One such example being Opalite, due to the fact that Opalite is generally flawless and may contain air bubbles from its manufacturing process or even scratches on the surface.
Picture of Opalites (https://www.etsy.com/search?q=opalite)
Picture of Moonstones (Photo courtesy of Roger Weller/Cochise College)
Other stones can be made to appear like Rainbow moonstones by assembling them with materials composed of a colorless, transparent base cemented to a fibrous white top and coated with a colorless plastic. The gems will also display an unusual iridescence. One way to identify these imitations is by looking through a microscope and seeing that the plastic coating layer contains gas bubbles.
Where they can be found:
be found worldwide, Ceylon, Mexico, Norway, Australia, Madagascar, Tanzania,
Brazil, Switzerland, and even in the United States. Yet, the finest and most
abundant sources can be found in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and India.
History of Moonstones:
was named “moonstone” by the ancient Greeks because of its resemblance of the
moon’s ethereal silvery light and they valued it as a talisman for lovers. It
was believed that they would arouse the tenderest of passions and true love from
the wearer and the one they loved. It was also thought to give someone knowledge
of the future and guide a person into making important decisions. Even the
Romans believed that the stone was formed out of moonlight and was a stone of
sensitivity and love. Amulets with the gemstone are tied with the moon goddess
Isis of Egypt, the Greek goddess Selene, and the Roman goddess of the moon
As of today, India considers the gem to be sacred and magical; for example, it is believed that the gem can bring enjoyable dreams. The stone was also not allowed to be displayed for sale unless it was on a yellow cloth. Yellow is considered to be a scared color in India. And in the Far East the moonstone is thought to bring balance within yin and yang as well as promote greater flexibility and flow with life.
Picture of moonstone cabochons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Moonstone.cabochons.arp.jpg)
Over the world, Mystics use the moonstone as a meditational item. The moving inner light in the stone makes good focus for meditation. It’s believed that the stone brings a calming presence that assists those wanting to enter a trance like state and even aids in those suffering from sleep deprivation. Because of its association with the moon it has become the stone for Monday.
In the past, it was believed that magicians would schedule using it during phases of the moon so as to cast spells of increase as the moon was waxing and for decrease as the moon waned. In gardens one thought the stone could increase the yield and fertility of the gardens plants. Because of its connection to the moon, people believed the stone was an excellent protector and talisman to wear on sea voyages or while swimming due to the fact that the moon has an influence over the waters on our planet.
Because the moon renews itself every month, it was thought that the wearer of a moonstone would regain or retain a more youthful appearance. Even romance has a place within the stone, which is due to the idea that if a person were looking for their true love then all they had to do was hold a moonstone while the moon was full and envision their love would come to them. They would also be told to carry the stone with them until the next full moon for the spell to work. Moonstone was also used by lovers as a way to bring tranquility and love back into their relationship.
As a novel:
Cover to The Moonstone Novel (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Moonstone_1st_ed.jpg)
While most people might recognize the name for a gemstone, some might confuse the gemstone for a book titled The Moonstone, which was published by a William Wilkie Collins in 1868. William Collins was born in Marylebone London on January 8, 1824. He had wrote five other stories before he wrote The Moonstone; A biography of his father in 1848, a short story in 1852 titled “A Terribly Strange Bed”, The Woman in White in 1859, No Name in 1862, and Armadale in 1866.
William Wilkie Collins (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Portrait_of_Wilkie_Collins.jpg)
The Moonstone is considered to have begun the genre of detective fiction. It was considered the first novel to hold an undisclosed crime and a criminal as its center and to make the detection of both by professionals and amateurs alike, the process of the plot. It even gave birth to the classic features of detective novels: Eventual conviction of the least-likely suspect, A Mishandled case by local police which was then taken over by a more perceptive and slightly eccentric detective, and the “fair-play” format in which no information is concealed to the reader by the narrator at any given point.
The novel revolves around a large, yellow, moonstone diamond that was the centerpiece of a Hindu idol of their moon god. The diamond was stolen during a war between England and India in 1799. The diamond was given to a young woman by the name of Rachel. The diamond was later stolen during the night. Throughout the story there are deaths and betrayal around the missing jewel all in the name of greed.
The novel was
based off of the Moonstone possessed by Collins friend Charles Reade who had
brought it from India by his brother and this stone was the original inspiration
for the novel as well as the Koh-i-Noor diamond which was a gift for Queen
Victoria by the last ruler of the Sikh kingdom of Punjab, Maharajah Duleep