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Moonstone is the traditional and mystical birthstone for the month of June, as well as the ayurvedic birthstone for the month of September.
Moonstone is any light-colored variety of feldspar that has a milky or blue-white appearance, and a moonlight-like sheen, called adularescence. Several types of sodium and potassium feldspar can exhibit this adularescence, including orthoclase, anorthoclase, sanidine, albite, and oligoclase. The potassium feldspar and sodium feldspar crystallize in separate microscopic layers that diffract the light differently, resulting in the classic moonstone sheen.
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Most moonstone is a form of the mineral adularia, a low-temperature form of potassium feldspar, usually identified as microcline. The lower temperatures result in greater order in crystallization; the sodium-bearing feldspar layers exsolve (separate) from the potassium-feldspar layers. The name adularia is derived from the Adula Massif, in Switzerland, where this mineral was first described. For more information about the mineralogical properties of adularia, visit the pages on microcline and orthoclase.
Moonstone occurs on most continents. Traditionally the most valued, clear bluish moonstone comes from Myanmar and Sri Lanka. India, Austria, Brazil, China, Scandinavia, Mexico, Japan, Australia and the United States all have moonstone deposits.
Moonstone comes in various colors and forms. Some of the most common are:
Rainbow moonstone: in addition to the adularescence, rainbow moonstone refracts light in rainbow colors.
Colored moonstones: often pink or green, these moonstones have been altered to enhance their natural color. Some have a colored foil backing; some have been dyed. Most peach moonstone is a natural colored stone.
Black moonstone: originally "black moonstone" was a trade name for larvikite, an unusual igneous rock that occurs in Scandinavia and Canada. A similar stone has now been found in Madagascar, typically black with veins of white, grey or brown running through it. This is not a true moonstone although it may contain some moonstone crystals.
Moonstone Lore and Trivia
- In Indian lore, moonstone is said to have been embedded in the forehead of the deity Ganesh, since the beginning of time.
- In Hindu mythology, moonstone is made of solidified moonbeams; supposedly you could see your future if you held one in your mouth during a full moon.
- In India, moonstone is sacred and is traditionally presented on a yellow cloth.
- Moonstone was used for protection in travel, particularly in the night.
- The Roman natural historian, Pliny, coined the name moonstone; he wrote that moonstone’s shimmery appearance shifted with the phases of the moon. This gives the association of this gemstone with all things lunar and feminine