Star Moonstone Gemstone Information and Education
About Star Moonstone - History and Introduction
Star moonstone is a gem quality variety of orthoclase feldspar, a potassium aluminum silicate known as moonstone which exhibits a rare asterism effect under specific lighting. When viewing star moonstone, a four-rayed star will appear to float across the surface of the stone. The effect is best viewed under a direct light source and while tilting, rotating and viewing the stone from different angles. In addition to its rare asterism, star moonstone is known to exhibit adularescence, an optical trait that moonstone is particularly known for. Adularescence is best described as a milky sheen or a wavy glowing light which appears to come from below the surface.
Moonstone owes its name to the almost magical, bluish-white shimmer that closely resembles the appearance of the moon. The shimmering sheen is the result of alternating layers of orthoclase and albite, which causes interference of light as it enters the stone. The light is reflected back and scattered equally, resulting in a fantastic schiller. The resulting sheen most commonly occurs in white, blue or blue-orange color and it appears with the four-rayed star. The combination of adularescence and asterism in a single stone is exceptionally rare. Top quality specimens can exhibit a 'three-dimensional' color, owing to moonstone's remarkable level of adularescence. Some rare gems may exhibit a cat's eye effect (chatoyancy) rather than asterism, and are known as cat's eye moonstone gems. Cat's eye moonstone is exceptionally rare and highly desirable.
Star moonstone can be identified from other moonstone through its asterism. Star moonstone is potassium aluminum silicate and it can be easily identified by its composition. Other gems with similar colors lack the phenomenal presence of adularescence, which makes the identification of star moonstone fairly easy. Scratch testing for hardness is often one of the most common methods for identifying star moonstone from other similar star gemstones. Other star gems are typically significantly harder (star rose quartz) or significantly softer (star diopside) than star moonstone. Star moonstone also exhibits straight four-rayed stars at near-perfect right angles. The four-rayed stars exhibited by star diopside are often wavy and do not intersect at right angles. Star ruby and star sapphire exhibit six-rayed stars.
Star Moonstone Origin and Gemstone Sources Back to Top
Moonstone deposits often occur as constituents in feldspar-rich granitic and syenitic pegmatites. Star moonstone is extremely rare, occurring in the same mines as moonstones. The most important deposits are from Sri Lanka. Other notable star moonstone sources include Australia, Brazil, Germany, Myanmar (Burma), Madagascar, Mexico, Norway, Switzerland and Tanzania. Today, Sri Lanka is known to produce a highly desirable blue colored moonstone and India is the number one source for blue-sheen moonstone, otherwise known as 'rainbow moonstone'.
Buying Star Moonstone and Determining Star Moonstone Gemstone Value Back to Top
Star Moonstone Gemological Properties: Back to Top
Please refer to our Gemstone Glossary for details of gemology-related terms.
Star Moonstone: Varieties or Similar Gemstones: Back to Top
Star moonstone belongs to the feldspar group of minerals. Feldspars make up approximately 60% of the Earth's crust, making them the most abundant mineral on earth. Feldspar gemstones are classified into two main branches: Potassium feldspar and plagioclase feldspar. Star moonstone is a potassium feldspar, which also includes lesser-known stones like amazonite and orthoclase.
'Rainbow moonstone' is a very similar gemstone, but it is actually not a 'moonstone' at all. Despite its name, it is a variety of labradorite, which is plagioclase feldspar, not potassium feldspar. Even so, since they are both varieties of feldspar, so they are very closely related. 'Rainbow moonstone' is sometimes referred to as 'blue-sheen labradorite', which is technically a more appropriate trade name.
Star Moonstone Gemstone Mythology, Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers Back to Top
Star moonstone has all of the same legends, powers and energy as other varieties of moonstone. Few gemstones have accumulated as much lore as moonstone. According to Hindu legend, moonstone was formed from moonbeams. In India, moonstone is regarded as sacred and it is widely believed to bring good fortune. In many Arab countries, women are known to sew moonstone into their under-garments, as it is considered a symbol of fertility.
In ancient Rome, moonstone was believed to have been formed from drops of moonlight. It was believed to harness the power of the moon, including legends of romance, dreams, emotion, femininity, intuition and love. Moonstone is highly prized among lovers, as moonstone is believed to arouse tenderness and passion. Many cultures believe moonstone to be an excellent healing stone and it is thought to be able to alleviate pain and symptoms associated with headaches and common backaches. Moonstone also has a historical connection with travelers and dwellers, in fact, it was once known as the "traveler's stone".
All varieties of moonstone are official birthstones for June and they are associated with the zodiacal sign of Pisces.
Star Moonstone Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas Back to Top
Star moonstone is not as durable as most other jewelry gemstones. However, despite its fragility, it remains very popular for jewelry designs.
Star moonstone is always cut en cabochon, so jewelry designs are limited to those that can accommodate flat bottoms. The wearing of star moonstone should be limited to protective-style jewelry, such as pendants, earrings, pins or brooches. Star moonstone can make stunning cabochon gemstone rings, but extra care should be taken to prevent scratches and blows due to its softness. Star moonstone rings should only be worn occasionally. Star moonstone is also sensitive to pressure, so extra care should be taken while setting stones (avoid tension-style settings). Star gemstones are quite popular for both men and women. For men, star moonstone is especially ideal for cuff-links and tie-tacks.
Note: Buy colored gemstones by size and not by carat weight. Colored stones vary in size-to-weight ratio. Some stones are larger and others are smaller than diamond by weight in comparison.
Star Moonstone Gemstone and Jewelry Care and Cleaning Back to Top
Star moonstone is not very durable. Therefore, it requires quite a bit of care, especially when worn as jewelry. Do not use harsh chemicals or cleaners to clean your gems, such as bleach and acid, and avoid the use of ultrasonic cleaners or steamers. Use only a mild soap or detergent and wipe down your stone using a soft cloth or brush. Be sure to rinse well using only warm to room temperature water to remove soapy residue.
Star moonstone is sensitive to pressure, so avoid extreme climate fluctuations if possible. Always remove star moonstone jewelry before engaging in exercise, physical sports or household tasks. When storing your star moonstone gems, keep them away from other types of gems and jewelry to prevent scratches. If possible, it is best to wrap your stones individually using a soft cloth, or place them inside a fabric-lined jewelry box for extra protection.
- First Published: September-18-2013
- Last Updated: November-29-2017
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