Moonstone’s silvery or blueish pearly lustre has been popular in jewellery for centuries. The play of colour and light, producing a phenomenon called adularescence, is due to the intermingling in the stone of two minerals, orthoclase and albite, which formed alternate layers when it hardened. The effect of light reflecting internally within these layers causes a sheen, and sometimes even a cat’s eye effect, on the surface of the stone. Polished as cabochons, moonstones were used extensively in jewellery in the Art Nouveau period at the turn of the 20th century.
Did you know?
- Both the Romans and Greeks associated moonstone with their lunar gods and goddesses, and the Romans believed that moonstones were solidified rays of the moon.
- Moonstone should be handled with care as it is relatively soft and sensitive to pressure and to knocks.
- A famous tiara given by the last Grand Duke of Hesse to his wife contained turquoise, diamond and moonstone symbolising true love, eternity and innocence respectively. The tiara survived a plane crash in 1937 and is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
- Along with pearl, the moonstone is sometimes considered to be the birthstone for June.
- Moonstone amulets were carried by sailors and travellers to keep them safe, and also hung in fruit trees in the belief that they would ensure a good crop.