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Moonstones are found in mountains and hills all over the world, so there are bound to be some not too far from you, no matter which region you live in. To search for them takes a little care and some geological knowledge, but after reading this, you’ll have both.
Plan your search for a place in an older mountain range. Narrowing down your selection, look at mining databases and satellite images to find a pegmatite deposit. Search gently, without a hammer or chisel, looking near the chalky, white, or translucent colored stone, using water to wash unrecognizable minerals.
That being said, the best way to search depends on where you’re searching. I will dive deep into how to search in which locations so that wherever your rock-finding vacation/day trip leads you, whether to Sri Lanka or the neighborhood next store, you’ll leave informed and poised to catch yourself a moonstone.
If you haven’t already, go back and read the first article in this series to learn about the properties and forming process of moonstones, to easier understand why moonstones exist where they do and why we search for them this way.
If you are interested in buying the beautiful moonstones only you can find them by clicking here (Amazon link).
Where to Find a Moonstone
Moonstones are abundant in places scattered all over the globe because they are actually made from one of the most common minerals on the planet – feldspar.
This section focuses on the best places in the world to find them, and the next focus on places in the United States.
Currently, the most exploited sources of moonstone are in Myanmar’s Mandalay region, Sri Lanka, India in Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu, and Austria in specific locations around the Alps there. Other locations include Brazil, China’s Xinjiang region, Lapland in Finland, Norway, Chihuahua in Mexico, Nanto City Japan, and Australia.
Below are some of the best locations for finding moonstones.
|Australia||Hartz Range, Northern TerritoryAlcoota Station, Northern Territory|
|Austria||Miesling Valley, SpitzHirschegg-Pack, StyriaSchwaz District, TyrolUrfahr, Linz|
|China||Kashi Prefecture, Xinjiang|
|India||Hazaribagh District, JharkhandTiruppur District, Tamil Nadu|
|Japan||Hitokuidani, Toyama Prefecture|
|Mexico||Saucillo Municipality, Chihuahua|
|Myanmar||Mogok ValleyMarble ArkPein-PyitBernardmyoChaung-gyiKyatpyin North|
|Norway||Iveland, AgderUla, Larvik, Vestfold|
|Poland||Lomnica, Jelenia Gora CountyGmina Janowice Wielkie|
If you find yourself in any of the regions listed, make sure to verify that rockhounding in your specific location is legal. Many areas have mines, some in operation and some discontinued.
Remember that mines are typically discontinued when it becomes uneconomical to continue, not when they think there are 0 gems left.
Therefore, never let a discontinued mine dishearten you. Actually, in the general vicinity of a mine is usually a great starting point, you can increase your luck even further by understanding the geological formation of the region to narrow your search!
Most of the world’s most valuable moonstones come from Sri Lanka – these are characterized by a blue shimmer in a near-transparent stone.
The world’s first recorded moonstone was found in Switzerland in the Alps, but few places there have proved economically feasible to have a mining operation – Austria the other side of the border has had more luck with that.
Where to Find a Moonstone in the United States
You don’t have to look that far if you’re a rockhound looking for moonstone for your collection. In that way, and almost every way actually, you have an advantage over gem-mining companies! Because economics doesn’t factor in!
Always start with the mountains. In the Appalachian category, you’ll have the best luck in Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia. The Rocky Mountains exhibit fewer options, but you can try out Colorado and New Mexico. Lastly, in California, there are more mistaken moonstones than real ones, but some have appeared in the Funeral Range in Inyo Co.
Below is a more complete list of which localities are good search candidates in the United States, sorted by state.
|California||Funeral Range, Inyo County|
|Colorado||Beckwith Range, Gunnison|
Wolf Creek Pass, Mineral
|Connecticut||Danbury, Fairfield County|
|Georgia||Buford, Forsyth County|
La Grange, Troupe County
|Nebraska||Ewing, Holt County|
|New Mexico||Rabb Canyon, Grant County|
Jemez Mountains, Sandoval County
San Mateo District, Sierra County
|North Carolina||Blankenship Prospect, Alexander|
Goldsmith Mine, Democrat
Bandana, Michell County
Franklin, Macon County
Bryson City, Swain County
Balsam Mine, Yancey County
|Pennsylvania||Mineral Hill, Delaware County|
|Rhode Island||South Kingstown, Washington County|
|Virginia||Amelia, Amelia County|
Winterham, Amelia County
Otter Hill, Bedford County
Hewlett, Hanover County
|Wisconsin||Wausau Intrusive Complex, Marathon County|
Quick Tip: By clicking on the links in the table you will get opened a full guide on what cool rocks and minerals are and where you can find them in each state.
While industrial moonstone mining and extraction has become very insignificant in the United States, these localities to have them, you just need to find them!
A word of advice: arrive at the locality with a loose plan, but don’t forget to ask locals and especially rock shop workers for advice. They’ll be almost as happy as you when you find that moonstone – almost!
As within other countries, always incorporate in your planning process a check to see if it is legal to rockhound in an area before you go.
Also, read any additional moonstone finding guide with care because many rocks go by the casual name of “moonstone” which are less valuable and much more common stones.
TIP: So you already know where to find moonstone. But do you know how valuable they are? Don’t worry, I wrote a complete guide about the worth of moonstones. Check out this article below:
Where to Find a Moonstone in Florida
Moonstone is Florida’s state gemstone for a reason quite unrelated to whether or not it naturally occurs there.
In fact, no moonstones have ever been found naturally in Florida. They decided on it as a state gemstone to symbolize the importance of the moon landings which took off from a space station there.
This decision was made in 1970. Having just sent the first astronaut-controlled spaceflight to the moon from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida a year before, they thought it was a nice gesture to the significance of this milestone in history.
I’m sure they were aware of the fact that moonstones are not in fact frozen moonbeams, as mythologies from ancient civilizations have once proposed, and actually have no correlation with the moon.
However, it’s a great gesture to this event, but now you Floridians just need to travel a bit north to Georgia to find one. Sorry to disappoint you!
Can you Find Moonstone on Moonstone Beach?
Moonstone Beach is located in San Luis Obispo, California, near the town Cambria. The tides at this beach have been fabled to bring moonstones and it is a popular place to go hounding for many minerals, including the coveted moonstone.
While Moonstone Beach “moonstones” have similar properties, they are not moonstones by chemical definition. They are chalcedony, typically confused with moonstone, which contains sodium instead of potassium, making it a type of microcrystalline quartz.
In the previous article in this series, the difference between chalcedony and moonstone is explained. If you already have a rock from this locality and you want to be sure, put it under a microscope or powerful jeweler’s glass.
If you see fine crystals rather than fine layers as the building block for your stone, you’ll want to pack up and head to the mountains to find yourself a true, adularescent, gleaming moonstone.
TIP: If you are interested in the differences between moonstones and other rocks or you want to know how the moonstones are formed, check out this article below:
How to Find a Moonstone
Now that you know where to look for moonstones, you just have one more step. While my guess is that you’re chomping at the bit to get your hands on some adularescence right now, I’ll ask you to hang in there just a bit longer while I tell you the best way to go about your search.
As a feldspar mineral with perfect cleavage and moderate hardness, care is paramount to any moonstone hunt. First, use a variety of tools and tricks to find pegmatites to try out. When you’re there, use careful methods such as panning and sifting, all the while using good lighting to hunt for the gleam of a moonstone.
If you’re looking for gem-quality stones formed by the process of cooling magma, chances are good that you’ll find luck looking in pegmatites.
Pegmatites are areas of igneous rock, which are usually found in sheets of rock. They are typically found in areas with a high concentration of igneous rock.
Finding pegmatites takes some experience, so it’s always best to start with a locality that is known for the rock you are looking for. Searching some of the moonstone localities above will come up with some mines. Once you find the mine on the map, the fun part begins.
I like to look at a combination of satellite images and ground-level images (whether from the mine or areas around the mine).
Markdown some areas which look similar geologically to the area which has been known to produce moonstone. Do mark down more than 1 so you have more options when you arrive.
When you do arrive, don’t underestimate the value of surveying the area. You’re looking for layered rock which is accessible, and of course especially looking for a rock with the translucent, clear, or milky white color of moonstone.
I’ve found that areas with a rock jutting out of the earth are a good indication, as well as small canyons and clefts.
BTW: Do you want to know more about rocks and minerals identification? The books listed below are the best ones you can find on the internet (Amazon links):
- Smithsonian Handbooks: Rocks & Minerals
- Gemstone & Crystal Properties (Quick Study Home)
- Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Rocks and Minerals (National Geographic Kids)
Once you’ve decided on a pegmatite to search. Be gentle with the stone (don’t forget it’s easy to fracture) and don’t be afraid to grab lots of material, especially if you’re far from home.
It’s always easier to identify a mineral once it’s washed, you’re comfortably seated, and have some finer tools at your disposal. Happy hunting!
TIP: You already know where and how to find moonstones. But it is also important to use proper equipment for rockhounding. Check out my recommendations for the best rockhounding tools in the articles below: