Some months have more than one birthstone which
represent both the faceted gems and the smooth, or cabochon type gems or minerals.
June is just such a month, having three widely accepted gemstone choices;
alexandrite, pearl, and moonstone. Here is some information about all
three that we hope you find useful and informative.
Pearls: Very Cultured
Pearls are an organic gem, created when an oyster covers a foreign object with beautiful layers of nacre. Long ago, pearls were important financial assets, comparable in price to real estate, as thousands of oysters had to be searched for only one pearl. They were rare because they were created only by chance.
Today pearls are cultured by man: shell beads are placed inside an oyster and the oyster is returned to the water. When the pearls are later harvested, the oyster has covered the bead with layers of nacre. Most cultured pearls are produced in Japan. In the warmer waters of the South Pacific, larger oysters produce South Sea cultured pearls and Tahitian black cultured pearls, which are larger in size. Freshwater pearls are cultured in freshwater mussels, mostly in China.
The quality of pearls is judged by the orient, which is the soft iridescence caused by the refraction of light by the layers of nacre, and luster, the reflectivity and shine of the surface. Fine pearls do not have any flaws or spots in the nacre: it has an even smooth texture. Other factors which affect value are the regularity of the shape, size, and color: rose tints are the most favored.
Cultured pearls and natural pearls can be distinguished from imitation pearls by a very simple test. Take the pearl and rub it (gently!) against the edge of a tooth. Cultured and natural pearls will feel slightly rough, like fine sandpaper, because of the texture of natural nacre. Imitations will feel as smooth as glass because the surface is molded or painted on a smooth bead.
Moonstone shows an almost magical play of light as its
characteristic feature. It owes its name to this mysterious gleaming which
appears different whenever the stone changes its position in movement. Experts
call this the “adularescence”, and in earlier times the phases of waxing and
waning moon were though to be discerned in this phenomenon.
Moonstone from Sri Lanka, the classical country of origin for Moonstone, shimmers pale blue on almost transparent ground. Specimen from India shoe cloudlike plays of light and shade on beige brown, green, orange or simple brown background. These subdued colors in combination with the fine shine make Moonstone an ideal gemstone for jewelry with a sensuous and feminine character. This gemstone was once before extremely popular, about a hundred years ago in the times of Art Nouveau. It used to decorate a striking amount of pieces of jewelry created by the famous French Master Goldsmith René Lalique and by his contemporaries. These pieces are usually only found in a museum or in collections nowadays.
Many mystical and magical connotations surround this stone. In several cultures, like for example in India, it is considered a sacred and magical gemstone. In India Moonstone is also appreciated as a “dream stone”, as it is supposed to bring about sweet and beautiful dreams. In Arab countries women often were Moonstone sewn into their garment, because there this gemstone is appreciated as a symbol of fertility.
Moonstone symbolizes a holistic view of man and woman. Its soft shine will support the emotional and dreamy tendencies of a person. The associations thus involved make Moonstone of course the ideal stone for lovers, reputed to bring forth feelings of tenderness and to protect true love. It is also reported that wearing a Moonstone will further intuition and your sensitivity for others.
What are Moonstones and where do they come from?
The mystical stone belongs to the large mineral family of feldspars, which provide almost two thirds of all stones on our Earth. In the case of Moonstone, we are looking at the feldspar variety called “adularia” a silicate of potassium aluminum in gemstone quality, which is also found in the European Alps near the Adula-group – thus the name “adularia”. Another synonym for Moonstone is “Selenite”, according to the Greek goddess of the moon, Selene.
When uncut, Moonstones look quite boring and make it difficult to discern their attractiveness: the mysterious play of light. It will only be brought out by the cutter’s expertise and skills. Classical Moonstones are always cut as cabochons. Here the appropriate height of the stone is essential. The cutter must also bear in mind to locate the crystal axis exactly in the zenith of the stone, because only then the desired effect of light play will be achieved.
The classical, bluish and almost transparent Moonstones traditionally came from Sri Lanka. But they are also found in the USA, in Brazil, Australia, Myanmar, and Madagascar. Since blue Moonstones in fine qualities have become more and more scarce in recent time, the prices have increased accordingly.
For some years now also green, blue and peach or smoke and champagne coloured, black and reddish specimen have been offered, which come mainly from India. Some of these show not only the typical the typical floating play of light, but also a cat’s eye or a multi-rayed star. These stones, then, are not only cut as cabochons, but also cut as intricate cameos, sometimes engraved as children’s -, moon - or gargoyle face. They also show the play of light which is so typical for Moonstone, just like the spheres and beads made from suitable raw material to be crafted into fine necklaces.
Where does the striking play of light come from?
The light of a Moonstone is something special indeed in the fascinating world of gemstones. Experts call this phenomenon “adularescence”. The origin of this phenomenon is the interior structure of the gemstone in scales or lamellas. Incoming rays of light are refracted inside the stone and scattered. In this way, then, there is created a unique play of light, which makes Moonstone so special and coveted.
This beautiful gemstone, however, has a considerable drawback: it only achieves a hardness of merely six on the Mohs’ scale. Moonstones should thus be handled carefully, as they are very fragile. On the other hand, small damages which will arise after longer periods of being worn, can be corrected relatively easily. A jeweler can have a dulled Moonstone polished in such a way, that it will regain its mystical light like on the first day.
Three-dimensional color and seductive charm
When purchasing Moonstone you will be astonished at the striking differences in price. The more intense the color, the larger and more transparent the stone, the more valuable is the gem. Really top quality fine blue Moonstone show an incredible “three-dimensional” depth of color, which you will see clearly only when playfully tilting the stone and moving it. Such specimen are very rare and thus highly coveted, and of course accordingly valuable. The brighter coloured Indian Moonstones are not only a fashion trend. They are usually a little less expensive than the classical blue variant, so that everybody today may pick his or her favorite Moonstone to meet exactly all requirements of taste and budget.
Moonstones are Nature’s treasures with a sensuous and seductive charm. They do not only ask to be looked at and admired, they require to be worn and moved a lot. Because only then the soft veil of light which makes this gemstone so attractive will be able to display its beauty to the best effect.
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