Moonstone might not be everybody’s favorite brand of gemstone, but it easily is be one of the most-loved gems of all time. An often favored Art Nouveau gem jewelry, moonstones have recently made a comeback with opal and other less popular kinds of gems. A variety of feldspar, this rock is not exactly an import from the moon as the name suggests. Instead, it is as much an earthly matter as is anything else around you. The name however is said to have some connection with the ghostly sheen of the stone, the closest thing resembling which is moonlight on water. Like all feldspar gems, moonstone is loved for its billowy blue sheen, and in case you are curious what causes that, hang on for the next few passages.
Moonstones has a refractive index of between 1.518 and 1.526. The layers in a moonstone that produce the unearthly glow is each about the size of a light wavelength.The moonstone is used as elegant cheap engagement rings Aside moonstones, there are two other stones that share its surreal luster, namely, sanidine and labradorite.
The Adularescence of a Moonstone
The beauty of a moonstone lies in its blue adularescence. Gemologists have long studied this effect and have concluded that it has, like opals and diamonds and other gemstones has to do with how light interacts with the rock surface. It turns out, moonstones have multiple alternating microscopic layers right below the top surface. These very thin layers are made from albite and orthoclase, two types of feldspar minerals. This layer formation is responsible for how the light gets split to produce the phenomenon which is referred to as adularescence.
When the light hits the intergrowth of these mineral layers, it gets scattered producing a ghostly rainbow like effect from splitting into the containing beams.
Although the iridescence of a moonstone cannot be equated with pearls and opals, but it is the haze of the shine that lends it a very peculiar character.
Moonstone as a Jewelry Gem
Moonstones in jewelries may not be as common as diamonds and emeralds, but it is quite a favored gem in Art Nouveau and a couple of other gems. The rock is loved for a number of reasons which secures it a favorable place as jewelry gemstone. Although derived from a mineral which is traced in 60% of the earth’s crust, moonstone is quite a rare mineral, in its top quality. The light diffraction is another reason why moonstones are a popular choice in jewelry decoration. There is one other phenomenon that separates moonstones from other gems of its kind is the cat-eye effect which produces under specific lighting conditions.
Cut and Uncut Moonstones
Most of the times, moonstones used in jewelries are uncut. But to ask the most frequently asked question, yes moonstones too are cut and shaped like other faceted gems. So, faceted moonstones are available in the stores. Rose cut is currently the most popular in moonstones. Milky and transparent stones like it are often shaped in this cut for greater effect and luster.
Moonstone is evidently not a gemstone as durable as diamonds or even sapphires. The construct of the crystal is to be blamed for this. Moonstone has two structural cleavage directions, something that makes for a weak construct. This makes the stone prone to scratches and less durable in the long run. That’s is why jewelers prefer to set it in pendants, pins and earrings that are not prone to accidental bumps and scratches than rings. Even if you wear your moonstone in your ring, make sure to not knock it against something hard as chances are, it will break apart from the impact.
Moonstones also require a very specific care routine. A little warm soapy bath is all they can take for regular cleaning. Do this every once a week if you wear your moonstone jewelry very often. If not, then the cleaning can wait every two weeks to once a month, depending on the use. Other than a mild warm soap solution, not many things are safe for moonstones. Wipe it off after use and try to take it off at the time of working out and swimming.Once the integrity of the crystal is compromised, there is no coming back from there. Replacement is the only solution left to the wearers then. So, try to avoid getting your moonstone framed in a ring for everyday use if possible to ensure that it lasts long.
Buying a moonstone requires a little bit of knowing about the stone. Moonstone, like most gems too are graded by the 4 Cs. Color is the most important aspect in selection. Most moonstones seen in the market carry a blue sheen leading buyers to believe that that’s the only type. In fact, there are many kinds of moonstones that are still colorless and sometimes gray, that reflect sheens of different colors like peach, green, brown, blue, white, silver and even rainbow.
For the best pick, you want to look for moonstones that are fairly transparent which most moonstones are. But, in addition to that, you also want to find a stone that has minimum to no inclusion. That is not rare. So, the priorities should be slight transparency and less inclusions for greater adularescence.
In cuts, there are not many options in moonstones. You get the cabochon cut and a few other faceted cuts. Most cabochon moonstones are smoothened into a dome shape. The reason why cabochon moonstones are more favorable than other cuts is because the adularescence shows best in the uncut dome shaped form. However, there is no reason to feel disheartened because more options are coming up in the faceted moonstones category and cutters are working at developing more cuts that reveal the unearthly shine and glow of this stone.
Like all other gems, moonstones are available in small and large cuts. Although really large sizes are increasingly uncommon, most stones used in jewelries are fairly chunky. The value of the stones go up with the carat size.