MJ

MJ

MJ's intricate handmade jewelry has been shown at California's Bowers Museum's Art of Adorning.

What’s the Magic in Moonstone?

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I’m madly in love with Moonstone.  It may be due to the fact that I missed my opportunity to witness the recent blue moon. Although I was awake that morning at 5:00 am, I was so busy, I missed out  — as a result, my morning now begins with a new 2-minute ceremonial dedicated to looking up and marveling at the sky, regardless of the early hour, when bird and beast still slumber, and the trees sway in the gentle breeze.

Moonstone’s Adularescence

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As I look up at the waning moon, I think of moonstone, which belongs to the feldspar family and is named for its incredible visual properties of its namesake.  Feldspars and feldspar-like minerals, the most common of all crystalline minerals constitute approximately 60 percent of the Earth’s crust.

The Rainbow Moonstone possesses an optical phenomenon known as adularescence, which is visible in the presence of light. This phenomenon, in honor of Mount Adular, Switzerland, was named for the valuable feldspar reserves found at the foot of the mountain. The translucent blush from deeper within the moonstone’s surface is, at the same time, romantically captivating and breathtaking, similar to the effect of light floating upon the water.

Moonstone is sometimes called “adularia,” inspiring the image of ancient balconies, roses and reflections shimmering on a lake. The light of the adularescence dances across the stone, creating that wondrous inner glow.  Quite mystically, this effect is only revealed once the stones are cut and polished.

Adularia moonstone, with its characteristic semi-transparent pale gray, silvery white, or blue luster is found mainly in Sri Lanka, Burma, India, and Madagascar. Albite moonstone, found in Canada,  also in the feldspar group, is semitransparent, known for its pale, muted reflection.  In the United States the history of moonstone can be traced back to New Mexico, in the 1960s, and well beyond.

Selene the Moonstone Goddess

During the early centuries, Moonstone was prized by Roman and Greek societies which associated it with lunar Deities.  Famous among them was Selene, the Greek Goddess of the Moon who fiercely drove across the nighttime skies. There was even a Roman belief that Moonstone’s formation came from drops off moonlight, as well as its direct association with love itself.   It was thought that Moonstone’s appearance changed with the waxing and waning of the moon. Some also saw the moon Goddess, Diana, looking out from her captured dwelling within the Moonstone itself.

Moonstone to this day it is widely believed to bring good luck.

Considered sacred in India, where it has been used in jewelry for centuries, it is often provided as a traditional wedding gift, transferred from the sacred yellow cloth of their tradition, to become the prized gift to a fortunate wedding ceremony.

Lalique, Pioneer of Modern Jewelry

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Moonstone became extremely popular during the Art Noveau period (c. 1890-1910), made famous by French Goldsmith Rene Jules Lalique (6 April 1860- 1 May 1945), known as a pioneer of modern jewelry.  His exploration of the depths of Moonstone and focused on ways to make a new statement, causing him to turn away from more commonly used stones such as diamonds.   Using stones for their power, light, and color whether they were precious or not, his creativity inspired him into the world of glass, for which he and his immortal works are today known simply as “Lalique.”  His beautiful jewelry creations include Moonstones tiaras, brooches, rings, necklaces, and pendants.

Rainbows and Moonstones

Moonstone can be found in various colors including peach, gray, brown, black, pink, and blue, and the rarest green.  The June birthstone, with a 6 to 6.5 hardness on the Mohns scale.  It is among my favorites and often used in my designs.

Rainbow Moonstones frequently possess heavy inclusions, particularly in its larger specimen. Resembling centipedes, internal perpendicular lines form inclusions cause the stones to produce their rainbow sheen that has become their hallmark. Ironically, when Rainbow Moonstone shows fewer inclusions, the result is correspondingly fewer colors, so a cleaner gemstone will tend to exhibit a blue sheen, rather than the coveted rainbow-colored reflections. Of the various varieties, the Blue Flash Moonstone is primarily a product of in Sri Lanka, while the Rainbow Moonstones is popularly from India, also the home of the more abundant, though less glamorous pastel-colored translucent Moonstone variety.

The 450 Carat Moonstone

The largest Moonstone on record found was in 1918, discovered by the first Japanese Expedition to Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. The stone – weighing approximately 450 carats – was extracted from Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, near the border between Tanzania and Kenya.  It must have been an experience finding a stone of that magnitude, not to mention the task involved in carrying it back down the mountain.

Moonstone’s prodigious history also defined it as the Florida State Gemstone from the 1970s due to the Moon landings launched from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.

Knowing all of this, the next time you look at Moonstone,  along with its magic, mystique, and allure, you’ll probably see it in a whole new light.

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