Moonstone is one of the most popular stones in the market, known and loved for its unique charm and properties. Crystal lovers adore moonstones for the intriguing bluish-white sheen it is famous for. People adore jewelry items made out of this stone, both for personal use and as gifts.
Though moonstones are available in abundance, there are many natural stones as well as fake crystals that look the same but don’t have such a value or properties as the real ones. These are quite widespread and hard to spot; only a specialist can differentiate a real moonstone from a fake.
In this post, we talk about the unique traits of moonstone and discuss a few ways to tell whether a stone is real or fake. While consulting, or engaging an expert is recommended, here are some features of authentic moonstones, that buyers need to be aware of, in order to stay clear of fakes, and scams.
What does a Real Moonstone Look Like?
A real gemstone belongs to the feldspar mineral group and is made up of mutual orientation of albite and oligoclase minerals. Such a structure results in barely noticeable layers or fractures often intersected by other layers perpendicularly. The diffraction process occurring during the crystal formation results in the adularescence phenomena unique to the stone.
It is the adularescence that gives the stone surface a glow in white and blue shades resembling moonlight. The light that produces from the effect seems to roll across the surface during motion. Clear, translucent, or flawless stones showing a rich blue sheen are recognized as valuable gemstones. The finest of these gems come from India, Burma, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania.
A moonstone, like any other stone, can vary to some extent in appearance. However, to be called a moonstone, it must exhibit a noticeable adularescence effect. The body color of a real moonstone can range from brown, yellow, or green to gray or even black. It can have a semi-transparent to opaque appearance with a colorless to blue, white, or silver adularescent effect.
A real moonstone generally has imperfections in the structure with fractures and parallel layers. The body color range of this stone can include warm as well as cold hues. The highest-quality moonstones feature a colorless, semi-transparent to almost transparent appearance and a vivid blue adularescence often known as a blue sheen it is popular for. It is a comparatively soft gem though harder than opalite and glass – the most commonly seen moonstone fakes.
How to Identify a Real Moonstone?
There are several ways you can tell a real moonstone from fake ones. Let us take a look at some of these methods that help.
Do the Adularescence Test
Moonstones are known for their unique feature called adularescence – an optical illusion resulting in a bluish-white colored light on the surface of the stone. Fake moonstones can also have this effect but it is easy to recognize the natural, mystic charm of this gemstone with a test.
The sheen of a real moonstone results from a reflection within the crystal while a stone like Opalite can replicate the effect only on the surface and not at the inner composition level. To test your stone for adularescence, hold it in your palm under the sun and see if the reflective light moves inside or simply on top of it.
Another way to test your stone is to place it under a bright source of artificial light and view from above. If you can see a blue/white glow, it should be a real moonstone because the glow of fake stones often changes when viewed against different backgrounds. If the crystal exhibits varied hues, it is likely to be fake.
Look at the Coloration
When it comes to identifying the real moonstone, connoisseurs often consider two things – sheen color and body color. The color of the gem’s body should be complete colorless transparency. Fake stones made out of plastic are often opaque. Though moonstones can have a milky appearance, they are believed to be superior quality if they are transparent.
Talking about the sheen color, a real moonstone should possess a deep sky blue glow gliding across its dome as you move it against a light source. Like most other crystals, the ideal color for moonstone is rarely achieved. ‘Silver white’ and ‘semi-blue’ are most often considered to be blue sheen though they don’t rank as the original blue stone.
Enquire about the Origin
Back in the past when most of the highest-grade moonstones in the world came from Myanmar, this aspect did not hold such significance. However, today, Thailand, Mexico, Tanzania, America, and other places produce moonstones and cannot be trusted for ideal blue beauties. It is therefore important to ask about the stone’s origin to verify its genuineness.
Also, research about the brand and company you are buying the jewelry from and read customer reviews to get an understanding of its reputation. You should also check the certificate of authenticity of the gemstone as it highlights all important facts like quality grade, carat weight, dimensions, etc. so you know what exactly you are getting.
A moonstone has biaxial crystallography which means whenever a light beam passes through it, it splits into two parts that move in different directions at different speeds. For this reason, some extremely cloudy stones are cut into domed cabochons to get a silvery white band appearing at the top of the sheen resembling a cat’s eye.
Such stones are named ‘cat’s eye’ moonstones and can be found in 10-20 carat sizes. These stones sometimes have another band intersecting the first one at 90 degrees, creating a unique star-shaped eye that gets them names like ‘star moonstones’.
If you are after a stone with the conventional blue sheen, it is worth looking at the new-variety feldspar called bytownite originating in India. As they feature a multihued adularescence, they are called ‘rainbow moonstones’. Some of the finest of this variety exhibit a red-orange or lavender glow with blue and green tints. Some others have a more predominant brownish sheen.
Look for Inclusions
A genuine moonstone is formed through heat and air pressures that create a fissure system in the material which is why you notice several layers within the crystal most often as you look at it. A real gemstone has cracks or inclusions as well as other features within it and is not perfectly clear like Opalite.
Though some high-end varieties can appear to be nearly transparent, they don’t show a milky glass look resembling Opalite. The fissure systems can be seen with naked eyes in the form of cracks. Genuine moonstones also have dark rectangular sections because of stress cracking. These cavities can, at times, extend to form an inclusion in a comma shape.
Check the Temperature
While fake moonstones like Opalite tend to warm quickly to body temperature, a genuine gemstone remains cool even after sustained contact with the body.
To test your stone, hold it close to your cheek and see how it feels. If it gives relaxation and stays cool after a good amount of time, you can believe that it is a naturally occurring moonstone.
How To Spot a Fake Moonstone?
Fake moonstones are highly widespread and many gemstone lovers end up buying one without even realizing it. The most common fakes sold in the market are Opalite which looks much similar to real moonstone. It is a man-made crystal that appears clear and perfect without any inclusions, fractures, or micro-layered structure. It has no layers and is made up of a homogenous artificial substance.
Sometimes, an opalite glass can show tiny bubbles inside it whereas natural moonstone has no such bubbles. Fake moonstones are milky and semi-transparent which makes them easy to spot. Some fakes even feel warm to the touch. Also, a fake moonstone like Opalite has a sheen that varies in color in response to the background light.
It is also common to come across natural moonstones impregnated with man-made substances. These are also categorized as fake, particularly when there is no disclosure about their modification. An ultraviolet light test can come in handy in spotting such fakes. While a real moonstone can glow blue or orange under UV light, impregnated stones are likely to glow unevenly under such light because artificial fillers generally glow under ultraviolet rays.
In this world dominated by emeralds, rubies, and sapphires, moonstone certainly holds its own pride. The subtle glow and dreamy beauty make this gem a worthy purchase one could cherish for long. Though it is quite abundant, there are many hard-to-spot, high-quality fakes of this gemstone which is why it is important to know how to identify a real one.
We hope this article helps you distinguish a genuine moonstone from a fake one. Always take time to do some research and test the stone for authenticity using the methods explained here. A real moonstone decoration should delight you with its mesmerizing beauty and properties for years to come.