Moonstone Buying Guide
Are you a jewelry lover looking to add to your collection or just browsing for something beautiful? Has the gorgeous moonstone caught your attention and you want to know more about it? Then you’ve come to the perfect place. Read on for all you need to know about the moonstone, including its use in jewelry, how to evaluate it and what you need to know before you buy one.
The word moonstone evokes the idea of mystery, night and light. When you look at a moonstone, it is easy to see why it was given that name. Its smooth, clear surface brings to mind the image of moonlight falling on water. On a practical note, moonstones are mostly colorless but are also available in various colors. The stones often have a bluish white, silvery, white or orange sheen to them.
Moonstone is the combination of two feldspar minerals known as orthoclase and albite. These minerals are separated into different layers. When light falls on the moonstone, it scatters between the different layers of the feldspar and causes what is known as adularescence. Too many scientific terms? In simple words, adularescence is the sheen that hovers on the surface of a moonstone, as though there is an internal flow of light. It has also been described as soft wispy clouds moving on the surface. The moonstone is best known for this property because it is one of the few stones in which it appears very clearly. Besides adularescence, the moonstone exhibits another phenomenon called chatoyancy or in simple words ‘Cat’s eye effect’. This is where an intense band of light is reflected off the stone from end to end, appearing like (you guessed it!) a cat’s eye.
How to evaluate the moonstone
As with most other gemstones, including diamonds, moonstones are also evaluated using the famous 4Cs of cut, color, clarity and carat.
The most beautiful and valuable color of moonstone is blue. However, it is also found in other colors like pink, peach, green, white, brown and gray which are less precious. If the stone exhibits adularescence more clearly, the value of the stone will also be higher. Buyers often look for stones that have a wider area of the blue sheen in the center of the stone
The moonstone may have inclusions like tiny tension cracks inside it which are known as centipedes. These are unsightly and interferes with the adularescence. It goes without saying that the clearer the stone, the more valuable it is. Prices for moonstones range from $10 to $1000, with clear moonstones free of inclusions such as centipedes or unappealing greenish tints commanding the highest prices.
Moonstones are cut into beads, cabochons or faceted. The best cut for moonstone is cabochons which show the natural phenomena of adularescence within the stone. However, faceted moonstones are increasing in popularity due to its ability of hiding inclusions within the stone, if any.
Moonstones are found in both large and small sizes. Jewelers often prefer 1 to 5 carats, which are easily available, for jewelry designs. Larger and clearer stones of about 15 to 20 carats are very rare and of high value. The largest moonstone ever found is supposed to weight between 300 to 450 carats!
Uses of moonstone in jewelry
Moonstones are a popular gemstone in many types of jewelry for both men and women.
They are commonly set in sterling silver, mixed metals, titanium or gold and are designed to optimize the natural sheen and cat’s eye effect which add value to the stone. They work beautifully with other gemstones and you will often find moonstones in combination with other colored stones. For shoppers born in June, the moonstone is your birthstone. All the more reason to buy one!
As the center choice for a ring, a moonstone is eye-catching and unique. The cat’s eye effect and the sheen of the stone really make it stand out. If surrounded by other smaller stones (dark colors work best), the natural color of the moonstone stands out even more.
Moonstone as engagement ring
The moonstone’s popularity as the center stone for engagement rings is increasing, and no wonder. Many non-conventional couples who are trying to break away from the traditional diamond ring would find this a beautiful alternative. Bear in mind that the moonstone has a hardness ranking of 6.0 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale. This makes it quite a soft stone as compared to sapphires or diamonds and would require a bit more care if used daily. But it makes up for that slight disadvantage with its good looks!
While blue moonstone is often the most popular choice for pendants, you can find pendants in other moonstone colors as well. Often shoppers prefer a clear, near transparent stone but these usually come with a premium. A moonstone pendant with matching delicate moonstone earrings are a beautiful and eye-catching combination.
Moonstone earrings match any occasion. You can find studs for casual daily wear, and like pearls, they add a touch of class to any outfit. Long beautiful moonstone earrings dresses any outfit up straightaway!
You can find moonstone bracelets in various designs, some with a large centerpiece moonstone and others with a string of moonstone beads. They go exceptionally well with silver colored metals or rose gold and look gorgeous for both casual and formal wear.
Moonstone necklaces are available in designs from short to long depending upon the choice of customers. A short or medium necklace with a single moonstone are quite popular for casual wear. Jewelry designers often use a simple and stylish lace of small moonstones for necklaces. To enhance the beauty of the stone, most designers use a big moonstone in combination with other small stones on silver or gold metals.
Cleaning and caring for your moonstone Jewelry
As we mentioned before, the moonstone is a relatively soft stone. This means that it prone to losing its smooth polish due to surface scratches. Substances with a higher hardness ranking, such as diamonds, can scratch and damage a moonstone. It is the best to store your moonstone jewelry separately from other gemstone jewelry. Furthermore, the moonstone is very sensitive to high temperatures and it should be kept away from excess heat.
Make sure not to clean moonstone jewelry in ultrasonic cleaners or steam cleaners. Use dish washing soap for cleaning purposes. Put a few drops of dish washing liquid in water and soak the jewelry for 2 to 3 minutes. When you take out it will be cleaned. If it is still dirty, gently wipe it with a wet cloth or use a soft brush.
Enhanced or Imitation Moonstone
Moonstones can be color-enhanced. This is where a natural moonstone is treated to display a more appealing color. In terms of imitation, opalite is generally passed off as moonstones. However, it is a man-made type of glass, that can be found in opaque or clear form and gives off a blue glow when seen under light. It can be indistinguishable for the untrained eye and fraudulent vendors often try to pass it off as moonstone. If you are going to buy a moonstone, make sure you check that the stone is not an imitation. Here are two main tips to help you identify opalite:
- Opalite often has tiny bubbles within it which the moonstone does not have
- Opalite gives off different shades based on whether it is placed on a dark or bright background. Try to place it first on a light background and then dark; if it changes shades from milky white to blue, it is highly likely that you are holding an opalite.
Tips for Buying Moonstone jewelry
Moonstone jewelry can be found on many online stores. Brilliant Earth has an excellent (but somewhat pricey) collection of vintage moonstone jewelry. When buying online, ensure that you are buying from a top-rated vendor, who offers authenticity certificates and has a clear and reliable returns policy. If buying a rare and expensive moonstone, ensure that it is evaluated by a gemologist and ask for a certificate of authenticity. Don’t be fooled by an imitation moonstone when shopping, so always check to see if the stone is authentic.