Geology Home Page physical geology historical geology planetary gems
Roger Weller, geology instructor
by Sarah Stevens
Once in a Blue Moonstone
Image from www.Jewelsforme.com
Moonstone is a sodium potassium aluminum silicate. Physically, moonstones range in color from whitish, grayish-white, silvery-white or milky white with a slight bluish hue; as well as peach colored, clear, pink, and even yellow. Perhaps most well-known in its milky white appearance; moonstone was named for its resemblance in color to the moon. Additionally, moonstones are also known for their silvery bluish iridescence which is caused by its composition of two types of feldspar; orthoclase and albite. The two feldspars intermingle in alternating layers which produce the iridescent effect. In essence, moonstone is a variety of the potassium feldspars with a pearly luster. Clarity of this stone ranges from transparent to translucent. It is said that for the shimmer effect of this stone to emit any color but blue; it is known as a “rainbow moonstone”.
What makes the moonstone interesting, however, has to do with its history. Dating back to ancient civilizations, moonstones were adorned and admired in both Greek and Roman cultures. The Romans, in particular, believed the stone was magical and to have been formed out of rays of moonlight. Both the Romans and the Greeks linked the moonstone with lunar deities. Still today, the Indian culture regards the moonstone as sacred.
The Roman Goddess, Diana, is known as the goddess of hunting and the moon. The Greeks regarded her as Artemis, twin sister of Apollo.
As mentioned, the moonstone is held in high esteem in a multitude of cultures. Said to bring luck in some cultures, the moonstone is also believed to hold both healing and mystical powers.
In areas of the East, believers tell of a live spirit that dwells inside the stone which can be seen in the trick of the light if you turn the stone in your hand. As for healing, some believe that the moonstone aligns vertebrae, aids in digestion and also soothes and balances the emotions. Mystically, the moonstone is believed to be a protective charm for women and infants as well a totem of good fortune in love. One legend tells listeners that to put a moonstone in their mouth under the light of a full moon will foretell of either a happy or unhappy love-life for the owner. Additionally, there are many accounts that insist moonstones arouse love and passion; deeming it a great gift for lovers.
Moonstone can be found in Australia, Brazil, India, Tanzania, Mexico, the US, and Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka produces the highest quality of moonstones. Indeed, moonstones can be found in a number of locations, but fine gem quality moonstones are becoming more and more scarce. Typically, moonstone is found in areas of volcanic and hydro-thermic activity, as these areas possess the physical and chemical processes required in order to form the stone.
Image from media.brainz.org
In their un-cut state, moonstones are rather unimpressive as the alluring shimmer within the stone has yet to be captured. Traditionally, the classic method of cutting a moonstone is into cabochons. With special attention to the height of the stone and precise alignment of the crystals; these details are essential to bringing about the desired light effect. In jewelry, the moonstone is the birthstone for May 21st-June 21st; attached also to the Zodiac sign for Gemini. Moonstone is also exchanged in celebration of the 13th wedding anniversary.
Moonstone in Rough Form:
Image from www.crystalsrocksandgems.com
Moonstone in Jewelry:
Image from www.jesterbear.com
Yellow, white and peach colored gemstones; photo courtesy of Roger Weller/Cochise College
Carved rainbow moonstone faces; photo courtesy of Roger Weller/Cochise College
Image 1, moonstone: http://www.jewelsforme.com/Moonstone.asp
Image 2, Goddess Diana: http://www.beaconhillacademy.org/lessons/religion/diana.jpg
Image 3, Blue Moon: http://media.brainz.org/uploads/2010/11/blue-moon-large.jpg
Image 4, Rough Moonstone: http://www.crystalsrocksandgems.com/images2/moonstone-rough.jpg
Image 5,Moonstone Necklace: http://www.jesterbear.com/Aradia/jewelry9.html
The following websites aided in providing information for this report: