Moonstone vs. Rainbow Moonstone, are they the same?
Hello, my name is Susan and I’m a self proclaimed rock hound. The wee collections scattered around my studio are proof positive that I’m addicted to rocks of all kinds. AND, I design jewelry. Hello. Dead giveaway.
Remember those Hallmark calendars that had the lists of birthstones in the back? Yep, I always begged my mother for those calendars so that I could check out which stone matched the month. Back in the 70’s, you didn’t get 3 stone choices, it was one and done. My birthday was in June, and my birthstone was pearl. Which as a kid was suuuuuuper boring. And, pearl…not even a STONE! I always felt slighted. So, imagine my surprise when they (not sure who “they” actually are…the birthstone police? Hallmark execs? Kay Jewelers?) added alternate birthstones to the ever popular birthstone list. We then had traditional birthstones and MODERN birthstones. How clever. So, at some point my birthstone choices became pearl, alexandrite, and moonstone. A girl loves choices.
Well, now I can get behind that, because rainbow moonstone is pretty fantastic, right?? I mean all that flashy color in a typically translucent stone. Ooh, la la. Flashy like my moods. Then, of course, because I like to learn about the stones that I use, I discovered that moonstone, and rainbow moonstone may not be the same at all. In fact, depending on the resource, some people call rainbow moonstone — White Labradorite.
Does this mean, it’s not moonstone? But it’s called moonstone. This was very troubling. Everything I thought I knew was now in question. AND, most of all, can I even use this as my birthstone any longer?? Or am I a FRAUD!?
Now, here we are. I’ve collected information from a few good resources and now present you with Moonstone 101. Hopefully by the end of this post you will understand the differences between these two stones. My goal is to give us June babies the knowledge we need to make knowledgable choices going forward.
According to the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) moonstone belongs to the feldspar group of minerals, orthoclase. The stone is known for its adularescence, which is a fancy term for an optical phenomenon that makes stones such as moonstone appear to be glowing from beneath their surface. Moonstone, often associated with love, passion and fertility, ranges in color from white to creamy yellow, peach and grey.
The big question; are these stones the same? The short answer is, NO. They are more like cousins. Rainbow moonstone is a type of plagioclase feldspar. The most widely known stone of that group being Labradorite. While rainbow moonstone is closely related to moonstone (remember that feldspar connection), they are technically NOT THE SAME. Rainbow moonstone is essentially translucent labradorite and often has black tourmaline inclusions. Here’s the best part. Although it is actually a variety of labradorite, people in the trade refer to it as rainbow moonstone despite the fact that it is NOT an orthoclase feldspar. Nothing like making the water all muddy for those of us that aren’t experts, right?
There you have it. Rainbow moonstone is not in fact moonstone. If you’ve made it this far in my little gemology lesson, be sure to let me know if you like this post by commenting below. Thanks!