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Rainbow Moonstone Gemstone Information

About Rainbow Moonstone - History and Introduction

Rainbow moonstone is the name given to a variety of labradorite that exhibits a blue or multicoloured adularescence on a light body colour. Rainbow moonstone is a member of the feldspar group, which makes up approximately 60% of the Earth's crust.

True moonstone is orthoclase (potassium feldspar), rather than labradorite (plagioclase feldspar). Though these two moonstones are related, they are technically not the same material. The reason for rainbow moonstone being referred to as "moonstone" is due to its adularescence, which according to some deems it worthy of the name. However, the adularescence of rainbow moonstone is caused by the same phenomenon as labradorite (reflection from twinning planes), where the true orthoclase moonstone gets its unusual adularescence from albite inclusions. This, and rainbow moonstone's composition set it apart from true, orthoclase moonstone. Some refer to rainbow moonstone as "labradorite moonstone" to distinguish it from orthoclase moonstone, but neither one of these is technically sound. Yet, the name, "rainbow moonstone" has stuck and some people prefer rainbow moonstone to regular moonstone.

The Romans admired moonstone and believed that it came from the rays of the moon made solid. Moonstones have been used as jewels for hundreds of years. They were admired by the ancient Romans and Greeks, and then were used in Art Nouveau jewellery. Moonstones later became popular during the hippie movement of the 1960s and the contemporary New Age spiritual movement.

Rainbow Moonstone Gemmological Properties: 

Chemical Formula:                                         NaAlSi3O8 to CaAl2Si2O8 Sodium calcium aluminium silicate

Crystal Structure:                                           Triclinic; prismatic

Colour:                                                             Colourless, blue sheen, multicoloured sheen

Hardness:                                                       6 - 6.5 on the Mohs scale

Refractive Index:                                          1.559 - 1.570

Density:                                                          2.65 - 2.75

Cleavage:                                                      Perfect

Transparency:                                              Transparent to translucent

Double Refraction or Birefringence:        0.008 to 0.010

Lustre:                                                          Vitreous to pearly

Fluorescence:                                              Yellow striationsrma), Russia, Sri Lanka (Ceylon) and the USA.

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