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Celestial Beauty with Earthly Origins: Moonstone

Posted by Catherine Claus on


Glowing with silvery light, it’s obvious how moonstone got its name. In Hindu and Roman mythology, moonstones are frozen moonbeams. And like the moon, moonstone has long symbolized love, fertility, abundance, and renewal.

From ancient Hindu mythology, to the European Art Nouveau movement, moonstone has been prized for its sacred, ethereal beauty for hundreds of years. Like holding a piece of the sky itself, moonstone captures the imagination and inspires the senses, making it an enduring favorite of many collectors.

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Ethereal Adularescence

Moonstones may look celestial in nature, but they are in fact part of the feldspar group of stones, which compose 60 percent of Earth's crust. While feldspar minerals are quite common, gem-quality moonstone is very rare. 

The silvery-blue glow that characterizes moonstone comes from microscopic layers within the feldspar that diffuse the light entering the stone. These feldspar layers are almost unimaginably slight, measuring a mere 0.5 microns thick, or roughly the width of a wave of visible light.

The glow produced by the light refracting off a moonstone’s layers is called adularescence. We see it as a pale blue gleam that seems to roll across the surface like moonlight on still water.

The term adularescence is unique to moonstones and takes its name from the Mt. Adular region of Switzerland, where one of the first deposits of gem-quality moonstone was found.

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Love and Abundance

Because of its association with the moon, which waxes monthly, moonstone has long been linked to fertility. In the Middle East, women sewed moonstones into their garments to help them become pregnant, and moonstone was hung from trees to encourage plentiful harvests.

The Ancient Greeks named moonstone Aphroselene, after both their goddess of love, Aphrodite, and their moon goddess, Selene. And European legend says two people wearing moonstone under a full moon will fall madly in love.

Today, moonstones are still associated with love and are also thought to promote renewal, just as the moon renews itself each month.

A Modern Stone with Ancient Meaning

Moonstone reached a new height of popularity during the Art Nouveau period of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Designers and jewelers treasured moonstone for its enchanting celestial appearance.

Though moonstones were previously used primarily as accent stones, artisans like French jeweler René Lalique made moonstones the focal point of their work, reveling in their sublime beauty.

Moonstone saw a resurgence among flower children during the 1960s and New Age followers in the 1990s, both inspired by moonstone’s transcendent, healing, and meditative properties.

Stones of Integrity and Authenticity

While moonstones may be found in many places on earth, the finest moonstone today are very rare.

We aim to source our moonstones from sources with strong connections to family miners, and who are highly cognizant of the ethical challenges with gems and jewelry in todays world, such as Barbara Lawrence Moonstones.

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Through long-standing relationships with the families who mine her moonstones, Barbara Lawrence promotes Fair Trade practices and workers’ rights, and fosters sustainability in the gemstone world.

Hold the Moon in Your Hand

Similar to the prismatic opal, the luminous moonstone appears lit-from-within. But where opal is all spark and fire, moonstone seems to contain a cool, billowy light. There is nothing quite like seeing a heavenly sheen of blue light move across a moonstone as you tilt it in your hand.

If you're interested in adding an elegant moonstone to your jewelry collection, please contact me today. I'd love to help you find or design a timeless piece you'll cherish for years to come.