Rare and valuable minerals

How to determine whether a moonstone is real or not?

A most interesting and worthy gem is a natural moonstone of jewelry quality that deserves special attention. Among the material that is presented on the market under the name “moonstone”, only a small percentage is a truly natural, high-quality rare stone. Everyone’s favorite, adularia, won hearts not with its bright color and excellent game, but with its modest bluish glow, reminiscent of the light of the Moon, and delicate milky translucency. In this article we will reveal the nuances of choosing a specimen of a moonstone, talk about its color nature, purity, processing, deposits, and how to find out whether the stone is real or fake. Finally, we will present the current market prices for adularia. Article navigation:

Colors and types of moonstone

  • Own color of the mineral
  • Optical effect (iridation, cat’s eye)

Moonstones come in different colors: white, light, gray, brown, peach, orange, cream, dark, black, greenish, yellowish. The adularia iridescence, as a rule, has a blue or blue color (adularescence), and can look like a light highlight on the surface of the cabochon (silver, pearl iridescence), or like a rainbow (labradorescence). Sometimes there are specimens with the effect of a cat’s eye and asterism in the form of a 4-rayed star.

In this article we will look at the most valuable types – adularia (white translucent with blue or blue iridescence) and rainbow moonstone.

Classic adular moonstone is a noble translucent orthoclase mineral with blue or milky-white iridescence.

Rainbow moonstone is a plagioclase in composition; it is a transparent to translucent gem, with rainbow tints throughout the entire volume of the cabochon.

When choosing a moonstone, pay attention to iridescence (area, intensity, colors) – the main evaluation criterion for this jewelry stone. The more pronounced and colorful the effect, the higher the value. Optical effects reveal their beauty best under a point source of light (sun, lamp) on a dark background; in diffuse daylight, the effect is practically not visible.


This is the case when the public treats slight imperfections with condescension and even respect. The main thing here is not to get confused in the concepts of transparency and purity. Transparency characterizes the degree to which a stone transmits light, and purity characterizes the presence or absence of defects and inhomogeneities. Moonstone may be transparent and of low clarity, such as containing cracks. Or maybe translucent, but with high purity. Transparent and pure adularia also exist, but, as a rule, in such stones the effect of blue iridescence is weakly expressed. Well, there is no perfection in the world.

The bulk of moon stones on the market are characterized by a large number of internal defects and inhomogeneities that affect the beauty and durability; such samples are only slightly translucent, looking almost opaque. Inclusions, cracks, and visible cleavage planes can occupy the entire volume of the stone. The more valuable and rarer are truly pure translucent and transparent specimens.

In the photo: adularia cabochons with high and low purity

Visually clean stones (without inclusions or cracks visible to the eye) are considered the most valuable; they are mined extremely rarely. For individual jewelry, minor inhomogeneities are allowed in the form of a cloudy area, small inclusions throughout the entire volume, dots and dashes. This does not detract from their appearance at all, but adds zest and individuality.


Cabochon is the most popular and sought-after form for adularia. It is in a cabochon that the moonstone most effectively reveals the beauty of iridescence. The bottom of the cabochon can be flat or slightly convex. The classic shapes of adularia cabochons are oval and circle; cushion, pear and marquise are less common.

Adularia is extremely rarely cut; these are, as a rule, single collection specimens, which is caused by the complexity of cutting the mineral and the fact that the iridescence is much more modest.

It is important to correctly orient the crystal during processing so that the iridescence is located strictly in the center of the cabochon. The cost is affected by the quality of processing, please pay attention to this. And here two factors are important: cabochon geometry and polishing. Moonstone cabochons, due to the difference in hardness in different directions of the crystals, often acquire an asymmetrical shape, so you can often find cabochons on the market with a flattened top or an elongated oval shape, close to a rectangular cushion. Polishing adularia is a technically difficult task, so many stones on the market are of average quality; when viewed through a magnifying glass, scratches, abrasions, and unpolished areas may be visible on the surface of the cabochon. High-quality polishing gives a mirror-like highlight to the surface and immediately improves the overall appearance of the stone.

Refinement of moonstone

Moonstone is rarely refined. In cracked specimens, oiling sometimes results in improved cleanliness and overall appearance.


When it comes to clear adularia jewelry, large finds of cut-quality crystals are very rare.

Small pieces of raw materials are used to make cabochons for sprinkling; even with a diameter of 2-6 mm, blue moonstones look impressive. The price per carat of such stones is not high.

With a weight of 5 carats or more, pure adularia with blue iridescence becomes interesting for making piece jewelry as a center stone.

Large clean cabochons, weighing 15-20 carats or more, are valued much higher. Specimens of pure blue adularia larger than 40 carats are unique collectible finds and are valued individually.

Place of Birth

Deposits of different types of moon rocks are found in many countries, including Russia (in the Urals and Karelia).

As for the valuable varieties – adularia and the rainbow variety – only a few places on the planet can be distinguished:

  • Sri Lanka
  • Tanzania
  • India
  • Madagascar
  • Burma

Ceylon and Tanzanian moonstones are considered among the best.

How to distinguish a real moonstone from a fake?

Moonstone is very popular, you can find it in beads, jewelry, pendants, keychains, costume jewelry, inexpensive rings and earrings made of silver, but mainly, under the commercial name moonstone, they sell an imitation of the so-called opal glass. It’s really clean, translucent, has a bluish tint and is cheap. But, unfortunately, it has nothing to do with natural jewelry adularia.

How can you tell if you are looking at a fake opal glass? It is not difficult to distinguish an imitation from the original. The simplest test is to hold the sample up to the surface and under the incident light. Glass in transmitted light will be yellow or orange, and under incident light it will be milky bluish. Also, glass – an imitation of moonstone – often contains inclusions in the form of bubbles visible to the eye, as well as streaks – streaks. A real moonstone looks completely different; it will not change when exposed to light, but the iridescence effect appears only in incident light and is most pronounced with a point light source.

If you have doubts about the natural origin of a specimen, take it to a gemologist for examination or contact a gemological laboratory; you can also obtain a certificate or expert opinion.

On video: natural adular cabochons

Cost of good quality moon rocks

To answer the question “how much does a carat of a real moonstone cost”, consider a variety of adularia with the following characteristics: white, translucent, inclusions or cracks barely visible to the eye are acceptable, bluish iridescence of medium intensity, oval cabochon shape with good geometry and acceptable polishing.

  • 5 ct – 40-60 dollars/car
  • 10 ct – 60-80 dollars/car
  • 15 ct – from 100 USD/car

Large specimens are assessed individually depending on their characteristics. The cost of a large blue adularia can reach several hundred dollars per carat with a bright neon iridescence.

Rainbow moonstones are valued much higher due to their rarity. To receive individual advice and find out the price of copies of specific characteristics, contact us.

In the Gem Lovers catalog you can choose and buy natural moonstone.

It is interesting that moonstone, despite its name, is only indirectly related to the Moon. Amazing, misty crystals emitting a pale light were once found in the Alpine mountain range of Mons Adular. The beautiful mineral received its scientific name from the place where the rock was discovered and described. The common name – lunar – was given to it by jewelers, uniting several completely different gems under this trade designation.

Depending on the variety, prices for products with iridescent stones can vary significantly. In addition to natural samples with similar structure and properties, you can also find a large number of imitations made of frosted glass on the shelves. How to distinguish the original from analogues and artificial crystals that do not have magical powers?

Many-faced gem

All types of minerals, which are commonly called moonstones, belong to the group of feldspars. The difference lies only in the internal structure, which suggests the presence or absence of microcracks, air inclusions, layers growing into each other and other features. Based on these characteristics, in geology it is customary to distinguish orthoclases, oligoclases and plagioclases. What the processed gem looks like depends on its structure.

The magical properties of the moon stone are ensured by its structure: thin plates of crystalline substance pressed together. Regardless of the name, all representatives of this “species” belong to the element of Water, influencing their owner in a very specific way. That is why esotericists do not single out any particular mineral as a real moonstone. The magic of all varieties is of the same nature, differing slightly in the power of manifestation. But in geology, this name refers to only one type of orthoclase – adularia.

In retail outlets, the following minerals may be called lunar:

  1. Adularia differs from other representatives of its group in the absence of microcracks in the internal structure. This is a rather rare and therefore very valuable gem. Samples of high jewelry quality are mined on the island. Sri Lanka, India, northern Russia (Chukotka, Siberia, Ural). The gem differs from other varieties of moonstone by its blue iridescence (adularization). It is not characterized by rainbow tints or multi-colored flashes. This elegant stone exhibits a single-ray asterism (cat’s eye effect) when cut into a cabochon. The ghostly bluish glow is not similar to the glow of other varieties. Only adularia has an amazing, visually three-dimensional crystal depth.
  2. Rainbow – plagioclase, or white labradorite – is similar in appearance to the previous one, if you do not pay attention to the iridescence. Unlike adularia, it is much less valuable; in its raw form it is almost opaque, white in color with a pearlescent sheen on the fractures. When cut into a cabochon, it is devoid of asterism, but acquires translucency and iridescence with an iridescent tint, reminiscent of gasoline stains on the surface of water. Along with the blue glow, you can see yellowish, pink and purple reflections. When contemplating the stone, there is no feeling of its extraordinary depth, like the adularia.
  3. From the group of plagioclases, the mineral belomorite was once isolated and given its proper name. Unlike adularia, it iridates in multi-colored small flashes in blue-green and reddish shades. The surface of even a polished sample often has noticeable cracks.
  4. Labradorite, or black moonstone, has an iridescent blue-green and purple tint to its polished surfaces. People often call it peacock for the similarity of shades of iridescence. Translucent plagioclase is darker in color than other varieties, which makes it possible to distinguish it from other related rocks.

In addition to those listed, the number of gems, as if illuminated by the light of the moon, includes chalcedony, albite, microcline crystals and other types of translucent feldspars. Despite their own beauty, they do not have the effect of iridescence. The jewelry value of such stones is extremely low, and they are used as ornamental stones.

How to distinguish an imitation from a gem?

Along with similar varieties of natural minerals, synthetic spinel is often passed off as moonstones. When growing its crystals, sometimes defects occur, expressed in the inclusion of air microbubbles in the monolithic structure. The resulting iridescence resembles the effects of belomorite or rainbow plagioclase. Products with defective spinel are often passed off as jewelry with moonstones, but their price is relatively low compared to natural gems. The easiest way to recognize this fake is by the price.

Decorative varieties of frosted glass with glitter inclusions are sold as inexpensive jewelry. Nevertheless, manufacturers consider it possible to designate inserts as “moonstone”. Purchasing such jewelry as amulets or talismans will be a waste of money.

Those hoping to purchase not just a piece of jewelry, but a magical companion in their own life, need to know how to distinguish natural minerals from counterfeits. The main feature, noticeable even to the untrained eye, is the constant iridescence of synthetic or glass “jewels”. The absence of asterism, that is, a clearly visible luminous stripe moving along the surface of the cabochon, should also be alarming.

Thanks to its layered structure, natural moonstone is able to glow, give the effect of flashes or pearlescent tints of color only at a certain angle to the surface. Having slightly turned jewelry with inserts made of adularia or other representatives of the species, even an inexperienced buyer may notice that the semi-precious inserts have lost their glow. The glass will shimmer constantly, since the sparkles are distributed evenly throughout its entire body.

Another sign of a natural gem is its high heat capacity. Glass (or synthetic stone) will become noticeably hot when squeezed between your palms. Natural crystal remains cool for a long time, practically not heating up from the warmth of the hand. This method can help to accurately determine the naturalness of a gem.

How are moonstones used in magic?

Even in ancient Indian treatises on the properties of minerals, moonstone (jandarakand) is mentioned. For its extraordinary glow effect, it was credited with magical properties to reveal the future. Similar abilities to give mystical revelation to someone contemplating the depths of a crystal were known in Ancient Greece. Chaldean magicians used a shimmering shard by placing it in their mouth. The prophecies pronounced at this time were considered very truthful, especially during the full moon.

Adularia was also endowed with medicinal properties. It was believed that the moisture released by the crystal on a moonlit night could cure malignant fever. Medieval healers used the gem as a remedy for epilepsy.

Modern lithotherapists take into account that these minerals belong to the element of Water. Their ability to help in the treatment of urolithiasis is widely known. For nervous disorders and depression, one should contemplate the play of shades inside the crystal. This helps to drive away anxiety and achieve sound sleep without nightmares.

Who is the gem suitable for?

The mobile and receptive energy of the element of Water is not suitable for every character. It is possible to determine for whom a moonstone is suitable only by taking into account the person’s date of birth. Constant contact with him will be favorable only for signs belonging to the Water trine: Scorpio, Cancer, Pisces.

The main properties of the gem – dissolving negativity, peace, relaxation – will help to contain outbursts of anger and calm down during stressful conditions. He will be able to give even aggressive and energetic representatives of the Fire signs (Sagittarius, Leo, Aries) a little prudence. But for representatives of Air, constant contact with the mineral can result in apathy and reluctance to act. For those whose zodiac sign belongs to the element of Earth, not too frequent communication with the powerful energy of the gem can be beneficial by moderating excessive ambitions.

For magical and healing purposes, the gem is best worn only on the waxing Moon. At this time, and especially during the full moon, the energy of the stone grows. As soon as the luminary moves into the 3rd and 4th quarters, the strength of the mineral also decreases. At this time, it is better to use it to reduce negativity and relieve pain.

Moonstone Jewelry

Both its ability to help the owner and the effectiveness of the jewelry itself depend on how the moonstone is worn. Its characteristic as a discreet, faded-colored mineral does not allow combining such an insert with a gold frame. Moonstone in silver with blackening is very good: the dull shine of the metal does not suppress the material of the inserts. The rainbow tints of labradorite or the bluish glow of adularia are successfully emphasized by the calm color of the metal.

Jewelry made from a stone that shines like the moon is very rarely decorated with faceted inserts. Iridescence on the facets is not so noticeable, and asterism does not appear at all. Therefore, adularia, belomorite, and labradorite are often cut as cabochons. Combinations of moonstone with other gems are practically never found: a silver pendant or ring usually contains a single large insert. This is the only way to truly appreciate the beauty of the mineral and see the exquisite play of light in its depths.

Necklaces are also made from lunar minerals. Large adularia beads can be quite expensive, and a necklace 45-50 cm long reaches a price of several tens of thousands of rubles. Therefore, such jewelry is quite rare.

You also need to combine products made from these gems with clothes with taste. A shining droplet on a little black dress will look elegant. A very elegant combination can come from a strict classic suit with a pendant and earrings with shimmering stones.

A moonstone ring can also be worn by a man. Typically, such jewelry is purchased by people with a penchant for practicing magic. A silver ring with an adularia is considered to be an accessory for clairvoyants and psychics. In this case, what is considered is not the correspondence of the stone’s energy to the owner, but its significance as an amulet that causes visions. The decoration most often serves these purposes, since it has sufficient contact with its owner, and the silver of the frame further enhances the magical properties of the insert.

Known gem deposits

From ancient times to the present day, it is believed that the most beautiful adularia are mined in Myanmar and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). This is where the most expensive varieties with bluish iridescence and a three-dimensional effect come from. The mineral is located in the thickness of volcanic rocks, where it crystallized millions of years ago from a melt of silicon and other substances.

A large amount of adularia is mined in Russia. Domestic samples are famous for their inclusions of gold and silver nanoparticles. This provides an unusual play of light in the crystal, although it does not cause the flickering characteristic of belomorite.

This variety also belongs to the Russian variety. A deposit of belomorite was discovered at the beginning of the twentieth century in Karelia. Geologists accidentally noticed an outcropping of light-colored rock with an unusual pearlescent tint. It is believed that only a poetic description of this oligoclase allowed it to receive its own name.

Labradorites are found both in the Russian North and on the American continent, where they have been mined for more than a century. Rainbow tints made peacock stone very popular among urban fashionistas back in the 19th century. The relatively low cost of the stone makes jewelry with it quite affordable in price.

The calming cold shine, akin to moonlight, makes the gem desirable for many representatives of the fair sex. But we should not forget that its magical properties and energy may conflict with the character of the owner. A beautiful piece with iridescent or shimmering precious adularia or iridescent labradorite can bring more than just joy. When choosing a moonstone for yourself, you need to take into account some subtleties, and then you will not have to regret the money spent on its purchase.

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