Wondering the difference between opalite and moonstone?
You're in the right place.
In this Learning Guide, I'll answer the following questions:
- Is Opalite the Same as Opal?
- What is Rainbow Moonstone?
- Are Moonstone Rings Expensive?
Main Differences Between Moonstone and Opalite
Moonstone is always natural, whereas opalite is made of glass.
Moonstone glows, whereas opalite shines.
Natural moonstone is still moonstone, whereas natural opalite is low quality opal.
Opalite doesn't have imitations, whereas moonstones can be imitated by opalite.
Opalite vs Moonstone: Origin
Opalite is best known as man made stone used in the jewelry industry. Glass opalite is the most common.
A natural form of opalite exists, but most of it is opalite glass. Opalites in their natural form are natural opals. An opal is a real gemstone that is valued for its play of light. High quality opal is referred to as precious opal. Real opalite is common opal, another name for lesser quality opal material. Low quality opal is opal without play of color.
The natural stone has a similar chemical properties to opal. They both are silicon dioxide minerals.
You can find opalite anywhere you can find opals. There are many different kinds of opals. Ethiopian opals, Mexican opals, and Australian opals are the most popular. In fact, Australia produces around 95% of the world's precious opal.
Despite that, you should assume most opalite is made of pretty glass, not a gemstone. Most common opal found in the market is more often called opal instead of real opalite.
Similar to opalites, there are natural moonstones and man made moonstone called rainbow moonstone. A natural moonstone is made up of two species of stones: orthoclase and albite. The two feldspar species are arranged in stacked layers within a genuine moonstone.
Rainbow moonstones aren't actually moonstone at all. They are a type of labradorite, one of the most abundant feldspar minerals in the world. It's a real gem, just not a real moonstone.
The main deposits of the natural stones are found in Sri Lanka and India. I watched a fascinating documentary about how moonstones are mined in Sri Lanka. Some varieties only come from one small village in the country.
Rainbow moonstone is found in India and Madagascar.
Opalite vs Moonstone: Appearance
Let's assume all opalite henceforth is just glass, not low quality opal. Instead of being used in jewelry, opalites are chosen for their healing properties in crystal healing. It is said opalite is beneficial for mediation and clearing of the mind. It also helps remove energy blockages.
The majority of opalite found is cut into smooth cabochons, which is why the get confused with moonstone. It can also be cut into different cabochon shapes as well as polished points and towers.
It has a milky glass appearance, with a light blue glow. It's considered translucent, but not transparent. It doesn't change its appearance or flash when light shines on it. Some opalite may have more of purple glow.
Synthetics and Imitations
Opalite is made by fusing metals with dolomites. They are already manmade, so they don't have a synthetic version. Opalite is more often confused with other gemstones like opals or moonstones. However, they are often found with tiny bubbles captured in its production.
Opalite isn't valuable, so you shouldn't run into imitations of it. More often it can be imitations for the stones mentioned above. You'll want to be aware of its trade names too.
Purple opal is a trade name given to opalites with the purplish glow. It may also be called the Tiffany stone or Bertrandite. It can also be called opalescent glass or sea opal. Opalite and opal aren't the same stone.
High end moonstones are also cut en cabochon in order to display their adularescence. Adularescence is the name of the blue or white glow found in moonstone cabochons. If tilted at certain angles under direct light, you'll see a bright blue flash in the stone.
They can have a light background that may be semi transparent to opaque. Common moonstone receives gemstone like cuts for an affordable price. They have more of whitish background and no adularescence.
Rainbow moonstone can be faceted briolettes, princess cuts, ovals, rounds, and other gem shapes. One of the most popular fad retailers is Moon Magic, which sells "real rainbow moonstone". Remember, rainbow moonstone is not moonstone, a different stone from the feldspar family.
Moonstone is also popular in the metaphysical world. You'll be more likely to find rainbow moonstone in that department. Rainbow moonstone is thought to bring creativity, hope, balance, and peace to one's life.
Synthetics and Imitations
There's no lab created moonstones, but there are a lot of fake moonstone imitations out there. It can also be confusing with other gems like opals or quartz.
A key difference between opal gems and moonstones is their play of light. Opals don't have bright flashes like moonstone. Their play of color consists of rainbow patterns. They may a have light or dark background. Black opals have a black background with bright orange and green patterns.
Read also: Best Orange Gemstones
You may hear of opal moonstone. That's referred to a made up stone called the Moonstone or moonstone opal, from Disney's Tangled.
Carefully observe moonstone. If you see any air bubbles, or it's perfectly clear, it's probably not moonstone. It it has no flash under natural light, it's probably not a moonstone.
Opalite vs Moonstone: Price & Value
Being a fake stone, opalite is very inexpensive and invaluable. You'll find that opalite set in gold will cost upwards of a $100. The gold setting will be majority of the cost. An entire strand of opalite beads can cost under $20. If they were real opals, that price would be a lot more.
Natural moonstone is affordable too. The only expensive moonstones are ones the high quality, with very prominent adularescence and blue flashes. White moonstone with blue flashes can go for around $125 per carat. Other colors and qualities of moonstone can be $1-15 per carat. Rainbow moonstone can be $5-50 per carat.
While both of these stones make beautiful jewelry, they aren't great for everyday wear. According to the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, moonstone is 6-6.5. Opalite has a hardness of 5.5-6.5.
Though it has a better hardness than opalite, scratching isn't the only thing to worry about when wearing moonstone bridal jewelry. They have perfect cleavage, which means it can split if its hit a certain way.
Because opalite is made of glass, it can shatter or chip pretty easily.
When wearing either moonstone or opalite, you'll want to make sure to take extra care of them and clean it regularly.
Hopefully, by the end of reading this article, you'll know the key differences between opalite and moonstone. Let's recap, shall we?
Opalite is man made glass stone with natural varieties being lesser quality of opal. It has a shine to it, but not a glow.
Moonstone is a real stone that can be found in a variety of colors. It is valued for its adularescence. Rainbow moonstone isn't moonstone, but labradorite.
Both are usually cut en cabochon, but moonstone is considered to have different qualities.
Neither of these stones make a great engagement ring due to their breakability and vulnerability to scratching. Thankfully, both of them are pretty affordable, unless you're buying top quality natural moonstone.
So if you still really want either stone for an engagement ring, just be prepared to replace it down the road if it gets damaged.
Or, you can go for an opal engagement ring instead for a longer-lasting option.