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What is Moonstone?
Moonstone is gemstone-quality feldspar, a type of silicate with aluminum at the center of its chemical composition. One of the old names of moonstone is hecatolite. It was also called adularite back in the day, as it was first mined near Mt. Adular in the Swiss Alps.
Switzerland holds the distinction of first unearthing beautiful samples of moonstone in the world. The schiller effect of moonstone – adularescence – became notable, and knowledge about this feldspar soon spread across the country and then the world.
The term “schiller” refers to the play of color when a gemstone piece reflects light. Not all gemstones have a schiller effect, so the ones that do affect are highly valued and sought after by gemstone collectors and enthusiasts.
The schiller effect or adularescence of moonstone is due to the interplay of several types of mineral within the core of moonstone gems – albite and orthoclase. This feldspar is called a reliable solution, and layering of minerals bend light within, causing the insides of the gem to glow like the moon.
Moonstones are used primarily for the manufacture of jewelry. The schiller effect is most popular with women buyers, and they lend well to a variety of metals, not just gold. Moonstone is set on silver, platinum, and other metals used in fine jewelry.
When selecting a moonstone for jewelry such as an engagement ring, be sure to pay attention to the color and meanings of the moonstone colors, as well as the metaphysical associations for each. There are specific meanings attributed to each color of moonstone, and it would be the best practice to buy the type that matches your zodiac sign, birth month, etc.
Moonstone that has a high level of visible adularescence, is highly prized in the jewelry world. Not all moonstone has the same intense glow as the samples that have excellent crystal structures, and therefore, have better schiller effect than other, lower quality gems.
Where is Moonstone Found?
A moonstone can occur either as a plagioclase feldspar or orthoclase feldspar with a variety of colors. Moonstones can be colorless, green, white, gray, purple, etc.
Moonstone ranks at a solid six to 6.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness and can either be transparent or translucent. It depends on the quality of the stone and the orientation of the gem when it was cut and polished.
It has a pearly luster and has a schiller effect called adularescence that creates a faint glow, much like the moon’s glow on a cloudless night.
The most notable deposits of this class of feldspar occur in many countries, but most notably in India, Brazil, Tanzania, Madagascar, Australia, Burma, and Sri Lanka.
The moonstone is often mistaken for many other gemstones, including carnelian. Moonstone can look like a carnelian when the specimen color is earthy, like brown. However, it would be easy to distinguish between the two, as carnelian does not feature the schiller effect that moonstone readily can.
How Are Moonstone Colors There?
Below are moonstone colors that are economically important for the gemstone world and jewelry market:
- Blue moonstone – This is a transparent glass of feldspar with a beautiful and subtle blue floating on the gem’s surface. The best type of blue moonstone has high color saturation. The schiller effect of a blue moonstone creates a prism of rainbow colors, making blue moonstone an excellent pick for silver jewelry.
- True to its name, the rainbow moonstone also creates a stunning rainbow effect because of its adularescence. It is a mysterious looking thing because, on the outside, it is full of milky white patches. The white component of rainbow moonstone is due to the white orthoclase content of rainbow moonstone.
- Green moonstone – Green moonstone is not as stunning or mysterious as the previous two types of moonstone, but it is an alluring specimen. The body of a green moonstone can either be hazy or transparent, depending on the specimen being examined. Its color can range from the lightest green to yellow-green.
When you look at green moonstone from a certain angle, you should see the standard schiller effect at its central point. It would look as if there was moonlight coming from within the stone.
- Pink moonstone – Pink moonstone is the name given to any color that is roughly within the peach-orange range. Honeyed moonstone colors are also called “pink.” Interestingly, pink moonstone exhibits both chatoyance and adularescence, as it should exhibit a white chatoyance when exposed to light.
- Transparent moonstone – The technical term for this variety of moonstone is orthoclase. When color is scarce, people resort to the name “adularia.” Faceted cuts are excellent for processing transparent moonstones as these cuts feature the adularescence much better.
Moonstone is one of those gems that can have a high value or a super low value, depending on the sample you have. The lower quality monotones can be sold cheaply for as low as ten dollars per carat, while the highest quality ones can fetch over a thousand dollars.
One of the most substantial indicators of quality is the lack of internal inclusions (including small animals) that can ruin the look of moonstone gems. Commonly found greenish tints are also considered a deal-breaker for some.
Which Color of Moonstone is Most Valuable?
Moonstones, in general, are not an expensive class of gemstones. While the prices will vary depending on demand, it is one of the more affordable gems for beginners.
The most sought-after type of moonstones is the fancy colored stones (as we have discussed above). The most common and, therefore, the least costly variant is the bluish-white variant.
The moonstone value depends on a host of different factors, including clarity, cut, color, and carat weight. Unlike other rare stones, larger moonstone specimens had already been unearthed a long time ago. The largest and most record-breaking ones are three hundred to four hundred carats by weight.