Moonstone, a namesake to the hauntingly beautiful glow of the moon, is one of the most common of the feldspar mineral group. Moonstone is a phenomenal gemstone, meaning it is a gemstone that displays optical illusions. Moonstone's optical illusion (phenomenon) is referred to as ‘adularescence.’ Adularescence is the cloudy bluish-white light that billows and gleams across the surface of the stone when light strikes moonstones alternating growth layers. Moonstone’s adularescence emulates glistening moonbeams piercing a thin veil of clouds. It is the only gem to display adularescence and have such a direct association with the moon.
Despite its unique beauty and phenomenal properties, moonstone is very abundant, making it an affordable addition to your jewelry or gem collection. The most prized moonstone according to the trade, displays a light blue (somewhat ghostly translucent) body color and a sharp, bright blue adularescence. The next most valuable of moonstone grades usually have a more opaque white body color, and display either blue or white adularescence. Other body colors such as grey, peach, yellow, brown, and black also occur but are less valuable to the trade.
Rainbow moonstone, very commonly sold as a type of moonstone, is actually a variety of transparent labradorite, another fellow member of the feldspar group with multi-colored sheen. The two are similar enough that the trade has accepted rainbow moonstone as a gem of its own. Both moonstones, with their blue adularescence, or rainbow moonstones, with their more opaque-white body color and full-spectrum display, are lovely gemstones. There is no discrimination what-so-ever as to which one would prefer. In fact, today, most people tend to prefer rainbow moonstone as opposed to traditional moonstone.
Ancient civilizations used moonstone in jewelry consistently. The Romans believed that moonstone was a solidified and tangible piece of moonbeams, while the Greeks (as well as the Romans) associated moonstone with all their lunar gods and goddesses. In India, there were beliefs of moonstone allowing a look into one’s future when placed in one’s mouth during a full moon. It was also a very popular gemstone choice for jewelers during the Art Nouveau period.
Since moonstone and rainbow moonstone have slight technical differences, their metaphysical properties also differ slightly. Traditional moonstone promotes clarity of the mind, allowing an open headspace for inner vision. Rainbow moonstone, since it displays the full color spectrum, acts as a diffuser of energy throughout one’s aura. It resonates primarily with the Crown chakra, but also with the Third Eye, gifting the wearer with psychic protection and aiding in calming slumber. According to Robert Simmons’ The Book of Stones, moonstone is a talisman for the inward journey, and meditation with it can take one deep into the self, while rainbow moonstones offer the gifts of inner peace and harmony, emotional balance and strength, purification and transformation of negative energy. No matter what type of moonstone calls to you, it will be classically beautiful, luminous, and rich with positive energy and history.