Moonstone and sunstone, seemingly opposites because of their names,
are in reality closely related members of the feldspar family.
Formed when hot magma solidifies underground, feldspar makes up
about 60% of the Earth’s crust. It’s found worldwide in one form or
another. Mineralogists have identified at least 40 varieties of
Moonstone is the feldspar most familiar to the general public. Other
varieties used in jewelry include amazonite, labradorite, and
sunstone. Moonstone contains layers of two kinds of feldspar, each
of which reflects light differently. That’s the source of its
shimmering glow, which looks like moonlight. Schiller and
adularescence are other names for the iridescent shimmer, leading to
the alternate name of adularia for moonstone.
Nearly all moonstones come from Sri Lanka. Early Romans believed
moonstone was captured moonlight. They began using it in jewelry
nearly two thousand years ago. Some ancient peoples wore moonstones
to protect them from epilepsy and sunstroke. It’s also been used to
stop headaches. Currently, those who attribute powers to crystals
believe that moonstone is a receptive stone and wear it to draw love
into their lives. They also use it for protection from danger when
Moonstone symbolizes the Third Eye in East India and is generally
regarded as a sacred stone throughout India.
Although moonstone is usually translucent white, it occurs in a
variety of colors, ranging from colorless to gray, brown, yellow,
green, or pink. One form of labradorite feldspar displays many
glowing colors. It’s been named rainbow moonstone.
Amazonite, first mistaken for a kind of jade and named after the
river where that jade was found, ranges in color from light green to
blue-green to bluish. It’s currently mined primarily in the United
According to folklore, amazonite brings success to those who wear
Blue, green, yellow, and copper-red labradorite is found primarily
on the coast of Labrador. It’s also mined in Madagascar,
Scandinavia, and the United States. Labradorite mined in Finland is
known as spectrolite, because of its multiple flashing colors. Some
people describe it as looking like oil on water.
Long considered a good-luck charm, labradorite is now used to
enhance psychic abilities.
Sunstone is normally colorless or straw-yellow, but may have red or
green markings. Most sunstone contains thin slices of hematite,
which creates a brilliant metallic reflection. Oregon is the largest
producer of sunstone, with deposits located also in Siberia and
Although no powers were attributed to sunstone by the ancients,
contemporary wearers believe it helps alleviate stress.
Sodium, aluminum, and silica combine with either calcium or
potassium in differing amounts to form feldspar. Not only is
feldspar found throughout the world in all kinds of rocks, it’s also
a component of some meteorites.
Mineralogists divide feldspar into groups with names like
orthoclase, plagioclase, and oligoclase. Those names refer to the
way in which the crystals are formed. Feldspars used in jewelry are
generally cut into rounded shapes, called cabochons, to best display
their glowing colors.
****Sandra I. Smith, Writer ****