Fascinating Phenomena in Gemstones, Part 3

GIA provides this image of moonstone as part of their GemKids Glossary, here.

Part 1 of this article can be found here, and part 2 here.

Continuing on in our look at phenomenal gemstones, today we consider two of the least know phenomena – Adularescence and
Labradorscence. This is part 3 in a reprint of an article from the American Gem Society seen here.


Adularescence is the phenomenon typically seen in moonstone, which is a member of the feldspar family. It produces a billowy soft blue to milky white light that appears to move across the gemstone. This occurs when light hits the alternating layers of albite and orthoclase, which are two differing forms of feldspar within the gem.

The layers of feldspar interfere with the light rays causing them to scatter and the eye to observe adularescence. The effect is best seen when the gemstone is cut en cabochon [en CAB-ah-shawn]—that is, with a polished, domed top and a flat or slightly rounded base

Thank you to geology.com for this image, see more here.


Labradorscence [lab-ra-dor-es-cence] is an optical characteristic often seen in labradorite. The effect is a spectacular play-of-color that is metallic or iridescent, displaying blue, green, red, orange, and yellow. This is an interference effect within the gemstone caused by internal structures that selectively reflect only certain colors.

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