One of the three birthstones for the month of June, moonstones symbolise love, passion, and fertility. They range from semi-transparent to opaque and colourless to white, with a blue, silver, or white adularescent effect. Moonstone jewellery bring a touch of serenity and an air of mystery that comes from the stone’s unique appearance, which glows with a special lustre originating from below the surface.
As a result, rather than giving them numerous facets like diamonds or sapphires, gem-cutters often shape moonstones into smooth cabochons—and that’s how Shanya Amarasuriya, creative director of Singapore heritage jeweller BP de Silva likes them best.
The fifth-generation business owner of this family-run jewellery company, Amarasuriya is the creative mind behind many of BP de Silva’s latest designs. With an unquenchable thirst for beautiful stones, she has a special soft spot for moonstones and uses them often in her pieces. The jewellery design graduate however uses only top quality stones sourced from artisanal mines in Sri Lanka—the birthplace of the OG BP de Silva, and Amarasuriya’s ancestral home.
Over a cup of freshly brewed tea—Sri Lankan, of course—she speaks with Vogue Singapore about her passion for moonstone jewellery and shares insider tips on how to spot a top quality moonstone.
Hi Shanya, we love the pieces from your Moonlight collection. We also understand you like to go for a specific type of moonstone called blue sheen moonstones. Tell us more.
I remember when I first started buying blue sheen moonstones, you could get 3mm stones by the parcels. We mainly did eternity rings with them because you could find them aplenty, especially in the qualities we need. But the moment you go into 2 or 3-carat and above, it becomes quite tricky to find stones of the right quality.
Why is that?
The general rule in gemstones, except for topaz, is that the bigger you go the harder it is to find a stone that fulfils your criteria of clarity and colour. Once, we had a moonstone cut into a pentagon star from an off-round stone [of the clarity and colour we liked]. We lost a lot in terms of carat weight in the process, but for the sake of design, we did it.
How did blue sheen moonstones become a BP de Silva signature?
We hope to do more things with moonstones. We find it matters with our new brand identity moving forward, which is [about being] more understated, offering a sense of comfort in luxury. Because luxury doesn’t have to feel bling all the time. Think Aesop or the Aman hotels. Very pared down, very Zen, very relaxed, just about enjoying yourself, embracing yourself.
How have your clients responded to this?
Well we had one client come in saying she’s not really a “jewellery person” but each time she drops by she’ll get something, particularly the moonstone pieces. I asked her about it and she said even though she’s not a “jewellery person” she likes them because they’re less about the “bling” and feels much more “her”. A lot of jewellers go for maximum wattage in their creations, which I enjoy doing as well, but I always say if I were a stone, I would be a moonstone.
Where do you get the best blue sheen moonstones?
In Sri Lanka, there is this area called Meetiyagoda that has a lot of artisanal mines producing some of the best in the country. And I know India also has blue sheens. But to find something very clear, with a strong blue, and good cut, is very challenging, which is why we have our own cutter based in Germany. It’s also a family business.
Can you explain to us the unique beauty of blue sheen moonstones?
As they’re from this family of stones called feldspar, moonstones display a gemstone phenomenon called adularescence.
[Ed’s note: Adularescence is the play of light across the moonstone, reflected and refracted by the inherent layers within the stone. Stones with blue adularescence are known as blue sheen moonstones.]
Is it synonymous with chatoyancy?
No. Chatoyancy is the cat-eye effect of a stone. You see them in chrysoberyls, sometimes in rose quartz. Other gem phenomena that can be interesting to jewellery collectors is the star asterism you see in star rubies and sapphires. That happens when the stone’s inclusions or rutile needles intersect at perfect 60-degree angles, forming a star effect when light falls across the surface.
Is that why moonstones are more often than not cut and polished as cabochons and sugarloaf stones, or if facetted, just very lightly?
I’ve seen people try to over-facet the stone but I think it just seems very sad [laughs]. I feel sad when I see a facetted moonstone. It’s like trying to force someone who wants to be understated, to become a diva. But she’s not a diva, so you feel the inauthenticity.
Hence your clear preference for smooth cabochon moonstones?
We’re just admirers of Mother Nature. You don’t have to do too much [to these stones]. There’s harmony in that and we have to create with what we have, and not force it. From a design perspective it could be interesting, but I wouldn’t do it. It also depends on your relationship with gemstones. Me, I wouldn’t do too much.
Do you exclusively use blue sheen moonstones?
We’ve worked with grey moonstones too, but commercially those aren’t as popular, even if there is lot of inherent beauty in them. They’re a very unique colour in nature, so I think grey moonstones are quite special as well.
What’s your favourite style of moonstone jewellery?
I love them on rose gold. I feel like rose gold warms the blue of the moonstone. And the contrast is quite cool. Also because I love rose gold, so I’m biased [laughs].
Shop Vogue Singapore’s moonstone jewellery edit
Whether you’re a June baby looking for her next birthstone jewellery, or just a big fan of beautifully cut and set moonstones, take your pick from this curated list of timeless designs.
BP de Silva Moonlight Reverie ring
Featuring a stunning 18.05-carat blue sheen moonstone, this rose gold knuckle-duster ring is fully paved with 1.54 carats of round diamonds.
Irene Neuwirth One Of A Kind Pavé Oval ring
Designed and handmade in Los Angeles, this white gold ring has a blue moonstone centre stone exhibiting a blue to greenish-blue glow.
Jacquie Aiche Emily moonstone and diamond necklace
A shield-shaped iridescent moonstone sits at the heart of this shimmering 14K gold slim chain diamond necklace, adjustable to suit your neckline.
Pomellato M’ama non m’ama moonstone ring
With its striking yet simple aesthetic, this classic Pomellato ring featuring a single delicate moonstone cabochon is just perfect for stacking.
Melissa Joy Manning moonstone stud earrings
Lightly faceted moonstones give this pair of 14K gold earrings a wonderfully organic, natural aesthetic which is made even better with the use of ethically sourced gemstones.
The Alkemistry moonstone ombre bracelet
Made in 18K yellow gold, this sweet bracelet comes with moonstone beads in natural hues ranging from tones of peach, brown, pink, and grey, as well as colourless.
Monica Vinader Siren medium bezel pendant charm
The translucent white colour tone of this moonstone pendent shimmers with a unique rainbow adularescence, moving from blue to a multi-coloured glow.
Carrie Elizabeth Hexagon moonstone ring
A cluster of gently facetted moonstones sit prettily in a row with this ultra-feminine gold ring made of 9K gold.