A Guide to Moonstone Jewellery
One of the most magical gemstones, moonstones have been used in jewellery for centuries and are known for their beautiful sheen and smooth texture.
Moonstones are highly versatile stones and can be worked into various styles and pieces – they are a favourite amongst boho/hippie styles. They can be set in amazing, chic and highly valuable jewellery.
What is a moonstone?
Moonstones are gemstones that come in a variety of colours and are a variety of feldspar. They are ethereal-looking stones that bring to mind mystery, light and the image of moonlight falling upon water.
Moonstones are aesthetically similar to labradorite, although they are made up of different elements. They are used in many forms of jewellery, including unique engagement rings, and are also one of the birthstones for June.
The unique sheen displayed on the surface is what truly makes a moonstone special and sets it apart from other stones – this occurs due to the physical composition of the stone.
Moonstones are made up of two feldspar minerals known as orthoclase and albite, which are separated into different layers. When light falls upon a moonstone, it scatters between the different feldspar layers and causes what is known as adularescence. This refers to the sheen that hovers on the surface, as though the light is coming from within the depths of the stone.
Adularescence is often described as soft wispy clouds moving on the surface – it is most frequently associated with moonstones, as it is one of the few stones in which it appears clearly.
Besides adularescence, moonstones exhibit another phenomenon called chatoyancy – or, in simple terms, “cat’s eyes”. This is where an intense band of light is reflected off the stone, vertically, from end to end, which appears like a cat’s eye.
What colour is moonstone?
Moonstones come in a wide variety of colours.
The most sought after (and arguably most beautiful) colour is blue. However, moonstone is also found in other colours such as pink, peach, green, white, brown and grey – as seen in this antique moonstone ring.
The adularescence can also affect how the colour appears, causing a rainbow effect in some cases.
Clarity, cut and carats
In terms of clarity, moonstones can have inclusions, such as tiny tension cracks, which are known as centipedes. These are unsightly and interfere with the adularescence – and, it goes without saying, the clearer the stone, the higher the value.
Clear moonstones free of inclusions command the highest prices.
Moonstones are most commonly cut into beads, cabochons or faceted – although the best cut is cabochon, which shows the adularescence off properly. However, faceted moonstones are becoming increasingly popular due to their ability to hide inclusions.
One of the most popular moonstone cuts is rose cut, as it highlights the colour and texture of the stone, adding depth and new angles to view it.
Moonstones can also be carved and were occasionally used for cameos or intaglios in the past. They are often found in both large and small sizes. Jewellers often prefer 1 to 5 carats, which are readily available for jewellery designs – larger and clearer stones of 15 to 20 carats are very rare and of high value.
The largest moonstone ever found is supposed to weigh around 450 carats.
Moonstone has long been a popular gemstone in many types of jewellery for both men and women. They are commonly set in sterling silver, titanium or gold, and are designed to optimise the natural sheen of the stone. They were also a staple gemstone used in a variety of 1970s jewellery.
They work beautifully with other gemstones, and you will often find them in combination with other coloured stones, as seen in many 1970s rings.
Moonstone engagement rings
As the centre choice for a ring, moonstones are eye-catching and utterly unique – the cat’s eye effect is a standout. If surrounded by other smaller stones (dark colours work best), the natural colour of the moonstone stands out even more.
Many non-conventional couples trying to break away from the traditional diamond ring would find this a beautiful alternative. However, it’s important to remember that moonstones only have a hardness rating of 6.0 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale. This makes moonstone quite a soft stone compared to sapphires or diamonds and would require care and maintenance to prolong its life.
If set in a protective setting, such as a bezel or halo, and taken reasonable care of, a moonstone engagement ring is a unique and beautiful choice.