June’s third birthstone, moonstone, was named by the Roman natural historian Pliny, who wrote that moonstone’s shimmery appearance shifted with the phases of the moon.
The most common moonstone comes from the mineral adularia, named for an early mining site near Mt. Adular in Switzerland that supplied this gem. This site also birthed the term adularescence, which refers to the stone’s milky glow, like moonlight floating on water.
Moonstone is composed of microscopic layers of feldspar that scatter light to cause this billowy effect of adularescence. Thinner layers produce a bluish sheen and thicker layers look white. Moonstone comes in a range of colors spanning yellow, gray, green, blue, peach and pink—sometimes displaying a star or cat’s eye.
The finest classical moonstones—colorlessly transparent with a blue shimmer—come from Sri Lanka. Since these sources of high-quality blue moonstones have essentially been mined out, prices have risen sharply.
Moonstones are also found in India, Australia, Myanmar, Madagascar and the United States. Indian gemstones—which are brown, green or orange in color—are more abundant and affordably priced than their classical blue counterparts.
This beautiful gemstone’s weakness is its relatively low hardness of 6 on the Mohs scale, making it prone to stress cracking and cleaving. Care is required with moonstone jewelry like rings or bracelets; brooches and pendants are preferred.
As its name implies, moonstone is closely associated with lunar mystery and magic. Its calming, balancing energies can supposedly attune to natural biological rhythms. Moonstone acts as the ultimate fertility crystal by sparking passion in new lovers and reuniting old ones.
Also known as the Traveler’s Stone, it’s believed to protect travelers at night. Moonstone is used to treat insomnia and sleepwalking, encourage sound sleep and create beneficial dreams.
Moonstone has been used as a beautiful adornment and a powerful talisman since ancient civilizations. The Romans admired it, believing it was formed from moonbeams. Both the Romans and the Greeks associated moonstone with their lunar deities.
The Roman natural historian, Pliny, coined the name of this gemstone when he wrote that moonstone’s shimmery appearance shifted with the phases of the moon—a belief that held until well after the sixteenth century.
Hindu mythology also told that moonstone was made from the moon’s ethereal light. In India, moonstone is considered a sacred and magical “dream stone” that can bring beautiful dreams at night.
Since ancient times, many cultures have held that moonstone can attune its wearer to the natural rhythms of the moon. Known for its calming, soothing aura, moonstone has been used to treat insomnia and sleepwalking, ward off nightmares and promote vivid dreams.
Often associated with love, passion, and fertility, it is a crystal to nurture new love and rekindle old flames. Also known as the Traveler’s Stone, it can protect travelers at night.
Florida adopted moonstone as its official state gem in 1970 to commemorate the Apollo 11 moon landing and other spaceflights that launched from Florida – even though moonstone is not naturally found in Florida or on the moon.
Valued for centuries, moonstone is still popular and accessible today. It’s the preferred June birthstone, over pearl and alexandrite, in parts of the world like Germany and Scandinavia.
HOW TO BUY MOONSTONE
Whether you’re celebrating a June birthday, honoring Florida’s state gem or tapping into this stone’s magical lunar powers, moonstone makes a luminous gift.
Like diamonds and other gems, moonstones are assessed by the 4Cs: color, clarity, cut and carat weight. An AGS jeweler can help you find the moonstone you want.
Generally, the more transparent the stone and the bluer its adularesence (or sheen), the higher its value. Historically, the highest-quality material came from Sri Lanka, but since those sources have essentially dried up, prices of classical blue moonstone have risen sharply.
Indian moonstones, in colors ranging from brown to orange and green, are more readily available and affordably priced. This means everyone can find a moonstone to fit their style and budget.
Classical moonstones are cut as cabochons with a high dome to accentuate the adularesence. Large blue moonstones (over 15 carats) are rare, but stones with silvery white adularesence are available in sizes up to hundreds of carats.
This beautiful gemstone’s weakness is its relatively low hardness of 6 on the Mohs scale, making it prone to stress cracking. Care is required with moonstone jewelry like rings or bracelets, so brooches and pendants are often preferred instead.
There is no synthetic moonstone on the market. Although it has been simulated by chalcedony and man-made spinels, these imitations are easy to spot.