In today’s post, let’s talk about moonstone and rainbow moonstone. They might sound like the same thing, but they are actually different minerals.
In this guide, let’s talk about each gem in depth as well as the differences between the two.
What is moonstone?
Moonstone has a deep connection with two minerals: orthoclase and albite. Both traditional moonstone and its rainbow sibling contain albite, but that’s where some of their similarities end.
Moonstone falls under the orthoclase category of the feldspar group, while rainbow moonstone belongs to the plagioclase feldspar minerals. Think of them as close relatives in the vast feldspar family. They might look somewhat alike because of their shared glow, but their hues differ, much like cousins in a family.
The beauty of moonstones comes from the way orthoclase and albite layers alternate and play with light. As these layers form, the albite layers separate from orthoclase, which gives moonstone its mesmerizing appearance.
Ancient cultures from all around the world likened moonstones to beams of moonlight solidified. They believed that these stones captured the essence of the moon, and since the moon has been symbolically linked to femininity and offspring, these stones naturally became associated with these traits too.
Fast forward to today, and both moonstone and rainbow moonstone are still believed to radiate peace and harmony. However, there’s a notion that rainbow moonstone vibrates at a slightly higher frequency.
Apart from these calming attributes, moonstone has always been seen as a protector, especially resonating with feminine energy and fertility. Many cultures from the past encouraged hopeful mothers to wear moonstones as a token to boost fertility and even today, this belief lingers in its metaphysical properties.
As for where these gems come from, you can find moonstones in various parts of the world, including Sri Lanka, India, Australia, Brazil, and the United States.
What is rainbow moonstone?
It’s a bit misleading to call it a moonstone since it’s primarily labradorite. While it shares some properties and looks with moonstone, it stands out because of its dazzling multi-colored sheen.
Labradorite, the mineral behind rainbow moonstone, is part of the plagioclase feldspar family. Sometimes, it may even contain thin layers of another mineral, albite, similar to moonstone. When you’re shopping, you might encounter “white labradorite” – that’s essentially rainbow moonstone.
Both of these stones might have had their roots intertwined in the past, with earlier cultures thinking they were the same. Even today, they share some symbolic attributes, especially being linked to the moon’s enchantment and the crown chakra.
In terms of spiritual practices, rainbow moonstone is believed to bring peace, boost intuition, and deepen psychic connections. Today, most rainbow moonstone deposits are found in India and Madagascar.
What are the physical properties of Rainbow Moonstone compared to Moonstone?
- Type of Gem: Rainbow moonstone is actually a type of labradorite, whereas the traditional moonstone remains true to its name.
- Glow: Moonstone has a unique shimmer called adularescence which usually appears blue or white. On the other hand, rainbow moonstone exhibits a phenomenon called labradorescence, which displays multiple colors.
- Appearance: Traditional moonstones often have a blue or white sheen and are typically cut en cabochon (a smooth, rounded shape). Rainbow moonstones, known for showing various colors, are often faceted, making them a popular choice for unique engagement rings.
What is the difference between Rainbow Moonstone and Moonstone?
- Body Color: Predominantly white.
- Cut: Can be faceted or cabochon. Faceted pieces are quite popular.
- Optical Effect: Exhibits multicolored flashes when light hits, often termed as “adularescence.” However, it’s often known as labradorescence due to its labradorite nature. This phenomenon gives the stone a blue schiller effect, similar to other stones like hematite.
- Inclusions: It can sometimes have black tourmaline inclusions, but these are not commonly seen in jewelry pieces.
- Imitations: While not typically synthesized due to its modest value, rainbow moonstone is often mistaken for opalite (a man-made gem often confused with opals). There are also instances of imitation using polymer clay, though these are more for crafting rather than fraudulent intent.
- Body Color: A moonstone’s palette is more diverse, encompassing colors such as white, brown, yellow, reddish-brown, blue, pink, grey, peach, and even colorless.
- Optical Effect: Its hallmark feature is adularescence – a glow reminiscent of moonlight. This blue glow intensifies in moonstones cut into cabochons. The best quality moonstones exhibit a strong blue adularescence, often found in ceylon moonstones sourced from Sri Lanka.
- Special Features: The presence of asterism (star-like patterns due to light reflecting off inclusions) can increase a moonstone’s value. This manifests as a four-pointed star in moonstones.
- Inclusions: Unlike their rainbow counterpart, moonstones have distinctive inclusions that are often likened to centipedes, owing to their leggy appearance.
What is the price range for Rainbow Moonstone and Moonstone?
The price, as with any gem, will mainly depend on the quality, clarity, and origin. However, the presence or absence of inclusions, size, and the intensity of adularescence or labradorescence can impact the cost, too. The numbers listed below are to be used as a price estimate.
- Price Range: Typically falls between $5-70 per carat. The price can vary based on the quality of the cut and the complexity of any carving or design.
- Usage: Though not as costly, its luminous sheen and colorful flashes make it a popular choice for many jewelry enthusiasts.
Moonstone (White and Ceylon)
- Price Range: More premium than its rainbow counterpart, moonstone can be priced from $25 to $150 per carat. Special features such as the cat’s eye effect or star patterns, along with strong adularescence, can push the price towards the higher end of this range.
- Usage: With its diverse color palette and unique visual effects, moonstone remains a sought-after gemstone for various jewelry items.
When considering cost, the rare ceylon blue moonstone takes the lead over rainbow moonstone. But, irrespective of their price tags, their softer nature calls for gentle handling. While they might not be ideal for everyday rings, they can be great choices for less rigorous jewelry such as earrings or necklaces.
How do Rainbow Moonstone and Moonstone compare in terms of durability?
Both these gemstones score 6-6.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, suggesting they aren’t very scratch-resistant. Simple everyday elements like dirt and dust can mar their surface, potentially diminishing their allure. Additionally, due to inherent cleavage properties, both stones are prone to cracking.
However, given their relatively moderate price points (particularly for rainbow moonstone), replacing them won’t severely dent your wallet, should damage occur.
How can Rainbow Moonstone and Moonstone be cared for and cleaned?
- Moonlight: Both can benefit from a cleansing under moonlight, particularly during a full moon.
- Selenite and Himalayan Salt: Both can be paired with these stones for an overnight cleansing session.
- Water: While neither stone is recommended for water submersion, a brief rinse under running water is acceptable followed by careful drying.
- Smudging: Both stones can be smudged using sage or palo santo, both of which are popular choices for herb-based crystal cleansing.
What are the origins of Rainbow Moonstone and Moonstone?
- Moonstone: A member of the Orthoclase Feldspar mineral family, its composition includes potassium aluminum silicate. Primary mining locations are Sri Lanka and Southern India.
- Rainbow Moonstone: A Plagioclase Feldspar and sometimes termed as white labradorite. Major deposits are found in India and Madagascar.
- For Peace/Harmony in Relationships:
- Moonstone: Recognized for resonating with love, passion, and fertility, it’s a symbol of divine feminine energy, promoting openness and receptivity in relationships.
- Rainbow Moonstone: While moonstone fosters love, combining rainbow moonstone with rose quartz is believed to draw true love.
- For Protection Against Negative Energy:
- Rainbow Moonstone: Particularly valued for its protective qualities, it’s said to guard against psychic attacks and deflect negativity, especially during therapeutic sessions. Moreover, it aids in healing past traumas.
- For Quality Sleep:
- Moonstone: Associated with the peaceful energies of the moon, moonstone aids restful sleep by reducing emotional stress and overthinking.
- Rainbow Moonstone: While also promoting restful sleep, it stands out for encouraging lucid dreaming and fostering communication with spirit guides.
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