The moonstone is characterised
by an enchanting play of light. Indeed it owes its name to that mysterious
shimmer which always looks different when the stone is moved and is known in the
trade as 'adularescence'. In earlier times, people believed they could recognise
in it the crescent and waning phases of the moon.
Moonstones from Sri Lanka, the
classical country of origin of the moonstone, shimmer in pale blue on an almost
transparent background. Specimens from India feature a nebulous interplay of
light and shadow on a background of beige-brown, green, orange or brown. These
discreet colours, in connection with the fine shimmer, make the moonstone an
ideal gemstone for jewellery with a sensual, feminine aura. This gemstone was
very popular once before, about a hundred years ago at the time of Art Nouveau.
It adorns a noticeably large number of the jewellery creations of the French
master goldsmith René Lalique and his contemporaries, mainly to be found in
museums and collections today.
This gemstone is surrounded by
a good deal of mystique and magic. In many cultures, for example in India, it is
regarded as a holy, magical gemstone. In India, moonstones are also regarded as
'dream stones' which bring the wearer beautiful visions at night. In Arabic
countries, women often wear moonstones sewn out of sight into their garments,
for in their cultures the moonstone is a symbol of fertility.
The moonstone symbolises our
being in its entirety. With its soft shimmer, it strengthens our emotional and
subconscious aspects. The associations connected with that make it 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
What are moonstones and where do they come
This enchanting gemstone
belongs to the large mineral group of the feldspars, of which almost two thirds
of all the rocks on Earth consist. The moonstone is actually the feldspar
variety known as 'adularia', a potassium aluminosilicate of gemstone quality,
which is also found in the European Alps near the Adula Group – hence the name
'adularia'. Another synonym for moonstone is 'selenite', from the Greek 'selene'
In their uncut state
moonstones are rather unprepossessing and afford little idea of what it is that
actually constitutes their charm: that mysterious shimmer of light. For that
shimmer is not really shown to advantage until the art of the cutter has been
brought to bear. Classical moonstones are always cut as cabochons, the most
important thing being the correct height of the stone. The cutter must also
align the axes of the crystal precisely into the zenith of the stone, for that
is the only way in which he will bring about the desired light
Traditionally, the classical
moonstones, almost transparent and with their bluish shimmer, come from Sri
Lanka. However, they are also found in the USA, Brazil, Australia, Myanmar and
Madagascar. Since bluish moonstones of good quality have been becoming more and
more of a rarity in recent years, prices have risen sharply.
For a few years, there have
also been some green, brown and orange specimens on the market, as well as some
with a smoky colour and some the colour of champagne, and some black and some
reddish ones, 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 necklaces.
Where does this strange shimmer of light come
The shimmer of light of the
moonstone is something very special in the fascinating world of gemstones.
Specialists refer to the phenomenon as 'adularisation'. The cause of it is the
lamellar inner construction of the gemstone. Incident light rays are refracted
and scattered in the stone. In this way, a unique light effect comes about, and
it is this which makes the moonstone so distinctive and so
However, this beautiful
gemstone does have one weak point, and that is its relatively low hardness of
only 6 on the Mohs scale. For that reason, moonstones should be handled with
care, for they are sensitive. Having said that, minor flaws such as may occur
when the stone has been worn for some time are quite easy to remedy. A jeweller
can have a moonstone which has grown matt repolished, after which it will
shimmer again just as it did on the very first day.
Three-dimensional colour and seductive
When purchasing moonstone
jewellery you will come across the most astonishing price differences. The more
intense in colour, the larger and the more transparent, the more highly valued
the moonstone. Really fine blue specimens display an incredible
'three-dimensional' depth of colour which the observer does not really come to
recognise until the stone is moved about in a playful way. Specimens of that
kind are highly esteemed on account of their rarity and their prices are
correspondingly high. The colourful Indian moonstones, on the other hand, are
not only very much in fashion. They are also, as a rule, somewhat more
reasonably priced than classical blue moonstones. This means that today, anyone
can select the moonstone to suit his or her taste and pocket.
Moonstones are treasures of
Nature with a sensual and seductive aura. Not only do they like to be looked at
and admired a lot; they also thrive on being worn and moved about a good deal,
for only then can the soft shimmer of light which makes this gemstone so
desirable really come into its own.