Moonstone | Properties and Meaning
An Introduction to Moonstone
Moonstone which is made up of the feldspar minerals orthoclase and albite comes in a variety of different colours. Stones exhibit an an opalescent lustre and are used almost exclusively for lapidary purposes. The white material is usually referred to as rainbow moonstone due to the distinctive flash of blue colour that can be seen as it interacts with light. There are many different grades available and gemstones can be translucent to almost transparent. The flash of blue colour that can be seen in the finest grades of rainbow moonstone can be quite impressive and is caused by the scattering or diffraction of light. This blue sheen or iridescence is correctly known either as schiller which comes from the German word for "twinkle" or adularescence which comes from adularia which is a variety of the rock forming mineral orthoclase. The most common type of moonstone is adularia. The word labradorescence is used when the same optical phenomenon is seen in the mineral labradorite. In order to enhance schiller or adularescence, gemstones tend to be cut and polished as cabochons.
In coloured varieties of moonstone a milky white glow can be seen which originates from below the surface of the stone. It was once described as having the appearance of lunar light floating on water which is how the name "moon stone" came about. Although a milky white sheen is most commonly observed, hues of orange or blue can also sometimes be seen. Being translucent means that when coloured moonstone is held up towards the light much of its colour drains away and with darker stones, objects placed between the stone and the light can create an eerie shadow.
Moonstone Through the Ages
Moonstone has a long history and is known to have been used for thousands of years. In the high priest breastplate which is a religious garment worn during biblical times scholars believe white moonstone was the third stone in the second row. The Romans used it in jewellery and believed it to be moonlight in a magical solid form whilst in Europe during the Middle Ages it was believed if you gazed at moonstone for long enough you would fall into a deep sleep that would predict the future. In India it has long been considered to be sacred stone and continues to be widely used amongst the general population today. During the early part of the 20th century moonstone was widely used in Art Nouveau jewellery
Some of the world's finest grade material comes from Myanmar (formerly Burma) and Sri Lanka but deposits can also be found in Brazil, India, Madagascar, Mexico, Tanzania and the USA.
Moonstone in Crystal Healing
In crystal healing moonstone is used to protect those who travel and as a talisman to bring luck. It stimulates confidence and composure and is a reminder that everything is part of a cycle of change. It's a stone for lucid dreaming which can enhance metaphysical abilities and the ability of clairvoyance.
Moonstone Birthstone for June
Moonstone is the birthstone for the month of June along with pearl, alexandrite and emerald. It grades 5 to 6½ on Mohs scale of mineral hardness which means it will scratch quite easily but must also be handled carefully because it has a tendency to break easily along planes of weakness within its crystal structure. The term cleavage is used to describe how prone a mineral is to breaking.
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Further ReadingInformation from Geology.com