It is no secret that jewelry can easily be worn down and grow dirty. Regardless of its significance or how well it ties together an outfit, pieces can break, crack, or fade, leaving them less desirable and certainly less valuable in terms of resale.
This is where a strict care regiment comes into play. Different gems have different levels of hardness and wearability, making them more or less accessible or worth the investment. Understanding the components that exist inside your gem is the first step to crafting your cleaning procedure to be as beneficial as possible each time.
Moonstone is no exception to this rule. In fact, it can be quite sensitive, and it is essential to follow best care practices after your purchase of a piece with this gorgeous stone inside.
As the birthstone of June and likeness of the brilliant rock that appears in our sky every night, moonstone is an incredibly popular, exotic gem. It may symbolize love and protection, but these intriguing stones need their own suit of armor - your safe-keeping.
We understand how confusing it can be to differentiate what works for which gems and what doesn’t, and we’re here to help! Read on to learn more about moonstone’s needs, wants, and everything in between.
Understanding Your Stone
Just like with any piece you have in your collection, you must know what it is composed of and how that impacts its characteristics. Each quality of a gem relates back to its value in the market.
To understand what you are wearing, you will need a crash course in raw moonstone.
General characteristics of raw moonstone include:
- Luster: Vitreous.
- Hardness: 6-6.5 on the Mohs scale.
- Fracture: Conchoidal.
- Heat Sensitivity: None.
- Enhancements: A dark coat on the back of the gem brings out more adularescence, but it is uncommon. Can be found with magnification.
- Pleochroism: Uncommon.
- Occurs in: Gravel, pegmatite.
Moonstone is found internationally, specifically in India, Australia, Myanmar, Madagascar, the U.S., and its place of discovery, Switzerland. Iron content varies in each piece, but it can determine what the body color will be.
The most valuable and priciest type of moonstone is traditionally colorless and clear, with a blue sheen adding to the natural allure. These can be hard to come by and are frequently bought secondhand.
Some forms of moonstone that are less revered and expensive include those with cabochons. These stones are translucent with adularescence and come in white or a multitude of other hues. They do not have the same blue sheen as the standard moonstone. Other markings of the versatility of this stone include chatoyancy (the cat-eye effect) and even, occasionally, asterism.
Jewelry represents a financial and emotional investment and commitment. To keep your prized possessions for generations, the utmost care is required.
Understanding the Mohs Scale
Moonstone is roughly a six on the Mohs scale, although it can be raised to a 6.5. This is actually fairly low on the scale, making the gem itself weak in most occurrences. The Mohs scale is based on how easily a gem can be scratched, which is influenced by how hard it is.
It is confusing to consumers to read when they are weighing their options for purchase since the differences between one rank to another are often quite significant. Hardness and wearability vary immensely from a gem that is ranked as an eight on the Mohs scale or a gem rated as a six.
Inclusions Are Common
Since this stone can tend to have a more fragile nature, there is no surprise that it comes with many inclusions. This is quite rare for gems that are as valuable and collectible as moonstones are. Even rarer, the inclusions are present in untouched, raw moonstones.
When exsolution pressure hits the stone, pairs of cracks can appear. These are fissure systems, and they are known by gemologists and retailers alike as “centipedes.” Stress cracking can occur frequently and throughout the moonstone, producing cavities as well.
Dark areas can form in these spaces, in the shapes of rectangles. The one benefit to inclusions is that they can help a consumer to determine whether or not the piece they are being sold is a genuine moonstone and not one that has been enhanced or seriously modified.
Cleaving and Its Dangers
There are two cleavage directions in moonstone, the cause of the stone’s low Mohs scale rating and, thus, its reason for being so easily breakable. This is not uncommon because many feldspar minerals cleave as well.
Rings and pins are not as popular with moonstone jewelry due to this characteristic since they are far more susceptible to being knocked around or accidentally struck on another material. As mentioned before, a weak stone won’t hold up against wear and tear unless it is cared for exceptionally.
This means being conscious of how fast your movements are when wearing moonstone on your hand and whether or not the position of your jewelry could put the stone in a compromising position to test its durability - and we certainly don’t want that!
Practicality suggests purchasing a moonstone set inside of a pendant, an earring, or a necklace for its own sake. Stability is key.
Never leave your moonstone out in high heat, or bring it from one extreme temperature to another in a short period of time. This can cause breaks. Do not expose your stone to hydrofluoric acid. Never store your moonstone beside other gems, particularly those who fall above a seven on the Mohs scale, as it can lead to scratching.
Be Careful With the Clean
All jewelry can go through a hard day’s work with us, and it is common knowledge that simply running a piece through a handwashing does is not sufficient for a deep clean. Gems can dirty quickly, but due to the nature of moonstone’s most popular variety - a colorless stone - any residue left behind on the piece will be incredibly noticeable and difficult to hide without a proper cleaning.
However, there are some rules to washing your moonstone. It is highly encouraged that your gem be given some form of protective setting to prevent it from being excessively scratched. These do not damage the raw stone or modify its value.
Additionally, avoiding a heavy-handed clean can make a world of difference for any delicate moonstone. The same precautions that apply for wearing moonstone carry over for this process.
Avoid ultrasonic and steam cleaning services at all costs. The heat produced from steam cleaning alone puts your piece at risk of breakage.
If you are attempting to wipe away dirt and debris from a hard-to-reach part of the moonstone, such as its back, a soft brush can do the trick. Otherwise, warm water with a little amount of soap can be applied to a soft washcloth as frequently as desired to wipe down your piece.
Mark Henry Jewelry specializes not only in the production and sales of exotic gems but in education around the upkeep and maintenance of them. Since our founding three decades ago, we have successfully brought moonstone to our consumers in impeccable condition and rare form.
As the stone of lovers, it is believed that moonstone has the power to heal broken relationships when exchanged between partners who have hit a rough patch or been through an argument.
We shaped our Valentine’s Day guide with this in mind, highlighting a pair of moonstone, diamond, ruby, and turquoise earrings set in 18k yellow gold. They are adorned with hearts, connected together, and crafted with the famous moonstone. The depth of the design is a marvel in and of itself.
It would be irresponsible to send our customers home with a moonstone that they were unable to take care of. For gifts that are meant to symbolize such profound emotions and gestures, prolonging its lifespan is key.
This is why we have our staff available to chat in the most convenient format for you. From a pop-up chat box that immediately offers support once you enter our website to an emailing tool that provides an easy, accessible prompt, contacting our experts has never been more simple.
Whether you have a question regarding how to prevent future harm to your moonstone, a pesky stain that won’t succumb to water and soap, or a stone that was unfortunately mishandled, we are well-versed in how to help. Let us point you in the right direction. While you’re browsing through, check out our moonstone collection and make the most practical decision for upkeep.
Remember, moonstone rings are the easiest to scratch or break, while earrings or necklaces might be a safer option. However, with proper practices put in place, we encourage you to research all of our designs and choose your best fit based on the look and not fear of poor wearability. Your commitment to proper care makes all the difference!
Over the Moon
Moonstones are precious, and we hope to promote a community of appreciation for these unique offerings by encouraging awareness of their fragility and needs.
The next time you watch a blue sheen dance on a necklace or ring from across a party, let it serve as a reminder that sometimes the most elaborate beauty can require so little - just add soap and water with a steady hand!