With its magical play of light, moonstone derives its name from the mysterious shimmer which appears different with every movement of the stone. In ancient civilizations, people believed they could recognize in this enchanting gemstone the crescent and waning phases of the moon.
Blue moonstone is the rarest and the most highly praised variety of moonstone, whose classical country of origin is Sri Lanka (Ceylon). Blue moonstone displays its magical shimmer in pale blue on an almost transparent background, while other varieties of moonstone from other sources such as India, and some varieties from the USA, Brazil, Australia, Myanmar and Madagascar show a nebulous interplay of light and shadow on a background of beige-brown, green, orange or simply brown.
These discreet colors, the transparent opalescence, and the fine shimmer, make the moonstone an ideal gem for jeweler with a sensual, feminine aura. Moonstone enjoyed highest degree of popularity at the inception of the Art Nouveau movement in Europe particularly in France. The master goldsmith and renowned enamel expert René Lalique and his contemporaries adorned a very large number of unique jewelry creations with moonstones, Specimens of which are to be seen exclusively in museums and private collections over a century later.
ORIGIN OF MOONSTONES
This enchanting gemstone belongs to the large mineral group of ‘feldspars,’ which constitute two-thirds of all the rocks on Earth. The moonstone is a distinct feldspar variety known as ‘adularia’, a potassium alumino-silicate of gem quality found in the European Alps near the Adula Group – hence the name ‘adularia’. The third, and the poetical name of this gemstone is ‘selenite’, derived from the Greek word ‘selene’ , translated as ‘moon’. In their uncut state, moonstones reveal no sign of what constitutes their unique charm, namely their mysterious shimmer of light, which becomes apparent once the art of the cutter has been brought to bear. Classical moonstones are always cut as cabochons, the most important considerations being the correct height of the stone and the precise alignment of the axes of the crystal into the zenith of the stone, without which no light effect can be achieved.
THE UNDULATING SHIMMER OF LIGHT
The shimmer of light inherent in moonstone is a very special phenomenon in the fascinating world of gemstones, referred to by specialists as ‘adularisation’ and believed to be caused by the lamellar inner construction of moonstone. Incident light rays are refracted and scattered in the stone, whereby a unique light effect is created, making the moonstone as distinctive and desirable as we know her to be. This beautiful gemstone has a relatively low degree of hardness which does not exceed ’6′ on Mohs’ scale, rendering her fragile and sensitive, hence the importance of handling moonstone with care and gentleness.
In recent years, there have been green, brown and orange specimens as well as some with a smoky color and others with the color of champagne, mainly originating from India. Some 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. But they too have the shimmer of light typical of the moonstone, as do the beads which are cut from suitable raw material for gemstone
MOONSTONE & MYTHOLOGY
Moonstone has been surrounded by abundant mystique and magic since ancient times. In many cultures, such as in India, it is regarded as a holy, magical gemstone, and also as ‘dream stones’ which bring the wearer beautiful visions at night. In Arabic countries, women often wear moonstones concealed into their garments, for in their cultures the moonstone is a symbol of fertility.
It is commonly believed that the moonstone symbolizes our being in its entirety, and that with its soft shimmer, strengthens our emotional and subconscious aspects. The latter has converted moonstone into a “lovers’ stone”, evoking tender feelings and safeguarding the true joys of love. It is also said that wearing a moonstone strengthens our intuition and our capacity to understand.
THE QUEEN OF MOONSTONES
The increasingly rare and blue moonstone continues to be ‘the queen of all moonstones’, maintaining astonishing price difference from other varieties. As a rule, the more intense the color, and the more transparent the gemstone, the more highly valued the moonstone. The blue-moonstone in its fine quality displays an incredible ‘three-dimensional’ depth of color which can only be recognized once the stone is moved about in a playful way. Blue moonstones are highly esteemed on account of their rarity which contributes to their considerably high prices.