In ancient times, people thought that moonlight solidifies upon touching the earth, and turns into an opalescent white gemstone. This stone came to be known as moonstone, and was believed to protect travelers on their journey especially at night. What is moonstone? How was this gemstone recognized as a stone of security?
Most popular in its bluish white color, moonstone is a feldspar gemstone that looks as though it shines from within. This opalescent brilliance is called aduralescence, and occurs on account that the moonstone gemstone is made up of two minerals, stacked together in flat alternate layers within the stone. These minerals are orthoclase and albite, both of which are gemstones in their own right. When light falls through the thin layers of albite and orthoclase, the light is diffracted in different directions, giving the translucent moonstone crystal the look of glowing from within.
The moonstone gemstone has been used in jewelry since antiquity. With its glowing bluish brilliance as of moonlight, moonstone reminded the ancients of the moon, thus the name given to it. Legends of Ancient Rome even spoke of moonstone as produced from the very rays of the moon solidified into rock. Accordingly both Romans and Greeks associated the moonstone crystal with their lunar deities, that is to say, the Greek goddess Artemis, whom the Romans called Diana.
Much of the metaphysical properties of the moonstone gem have to do with the moon, with which the stone is associated. Also known as the Traveler’s Stone, moonstone makes a popular amulet for travelers, as the gemstone is believed to protect people on their journey especially at night, the same way the moon guides one’s way on a dark path. Not only does the gemstone provide protection to travelers, moonstone is also believed to bestow a calming, healing effect to its wearer, soothing one’s worries, driving away nightmares, bringing a sense of security and peace. The moonstone gemstone is indeed recognized as a stone of security, bestowing refuge to its wearer, whether at home or on the road.
Moonstone is the birthstone of Cancer, an impressionable zodiac sign whose ruling planet is the moon. The gemstone moonstone is believed to bring calm and serenity: things that the receptive Cancer people are inclined to seek and cherish. Cancer people have strong intuition and are reputed to possess clairvoyance: a trait that the gem moonstone is thought to stimulate as well. The Romans believed that moonstone bestows the gift of prophecy by clearing the mind. To read the future, the Hindus place a moonstone crystal in their mouth on a full moon.
While most popular for its opalescent white variety, moonstone also occurs in other colors, including gray, yellow and pink. Cloudy moonstones from India come in green, orange and brown. Blue, peach, black and red are also colors of moonstones, though these varieties are rather rare. Indeed, moonstone comes in numerous colors. However, be careful when you hear the name rainbow moonstone. This gemstone is not in fact moonstone, but clear labradorite, otherwise more accurately called blue-sheen labradorite.
Moonstone was most popularly used in jewelry during the Art Nouveau period some 1,000 years ago. The moonstone gemstone remains a popular choice for jewelry to this day, especially after being made the modern birthstone for June along with pearl. Earrings, necklaces and brooches can all have moonstone in them. A moonstone gem may be set on a ring too, though care should be taken in wearing it, since moonstone is not as hard as other stones, and therefore susceptible to blows and scratches.
Though not as expensive as the fine gems, moonstone is relatively more valuable compared to other opaque semi-precious stones. The most valuable of the moonstone gemstone is near-transparent with pale blue sheen. This variety of the moonstone gem is sourced from Sri Lanka. The cloudy moonstones of green, brown and orange from India are also very valuable. Other varieties of moonstone are more affordable in price, and usually sold as beaded jewelry.
Do you like moonstone?
Moonstone is the gemstone associated with the moon, and is believed to bring a feeling of security, both to travelers and to people at home. Do you like moonstone? Do you like to wear moonstone in your jewelry?