Moonstone is a gemstone that has a look as mysterious as its name. Its shimmering opalescence has an almost magical quality that's equated with moonlight. Ancient cultures, such as those in Asia and Rome, believed that moonstone was solidified moonlight. The stone is still considered sacred in India.
Moonstone is a variety of mineral known as feldspar. It is translucent, with a pearly luster. The most well known variety is colorless or milky white with a shimmer of a blue hue. The more shimmer the stone has, the more valuable it is. Some specimens come in other colors such as beige, peach, blue, champagne, reddish or black. The blue variety is more rare and costly. There is also a popular multicolored type known as rainbow moonstone.
Moonstone is a fairly soft mineral. It registers between 6 and 6.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness (with 10 being the hardest). Moonstone is sensitive to pressure, therefore it is usually cut in cabochons. Moonstone will display a good light reflection effect if cut correctly.
Deposits of the mineral are found in India, the United States, Madagascar, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. Moonstone is also mined in Australia, Burma, Ceylon, Tanzania, Mexico, Norway, Brazil and Switzerland. The highest quality of moonstone is found in Sri Lanka.
Moonstone is in a class of silicates from the group feldspar. It has a specific gravity of 2.56 to 2.59 and a refractive index of 1.518 to 1.526. Specific gravity indicates the ratio of weight in comparison to the weight of the same volume of water, which can help identify minerals. The refractive index refers to the measurement of light that is bent when it passes from one material into another. Moonstone has a luster that ranges from glassy to pearly iridescence.
Moonstone is a soft stone that can easily be scratched. Moonstone jewelry should be cleaned and polished with a soft cloth to prevent damage. Jewelry should be stored separately in a soft pouch or wrapped in a soft cloth. If moonstone gems are handled with care they can last a lifetime.
Myth and Lore
Throughout history, moonstone has been considered a lucky stone. Asians believed a spirit lived in the stone because of its appearance of shimmering movement. In Europe, the stone was worn to attract a faithful lover. Moonstone is associated with the moon, the element of water, psychic ability and intuition, as well as with the planets Neptune and Venus. It is associated with the astrological sign of Cancer and is the birthstone of those born in June.