Contrary to conflicting information you might find on the internet, selenite and moonstone are not the same minerals.
In this article, we’ll explain the differences between selenite vs moonstone, so you can pick out the stone that is right for you.
Selenite vs Moonstone: How Are They Different?
Chemical Composition Differences
Let’s start with the differences as a molecular level.
Selenite is a crystal variety of the mineral gypsum. Despite it’s name, selenite does not contain any selenium at all.
Instead, it’s chemical formula is CaSO4·2H2O, and it is thought of as a sulfate mineral.
While it can be found in other colors (due to the presence of impurities), selenite that you find for sale in shops is most often transparent and colorless, or cloudy white. But you can also find it in brown, green, gray, yellow, and white.
Moonstone is a member of the feldspar family, and is technically a sodium potassium aluminum silicate.
It’s chemical formula is (Na,K)AlSi3O8. It gets its name from the the way it looks; it displays a pearly and opalescent schiller.
(Schiller is the term used to describe a metallic iridescence originating from below the outer surface of the material. It is best observed when light is on the stone.)
Moonstone can be many colors, like blue, pink, green, and grey.
Physical Appearance Differences
While selenite and moonstone can be found in both clear/cloudy white varieties, they can be found in any number of colors.
It all depends upon the impurities found to be in the stone (metals and other minerals, for example).
The main difference between selenite and moonstone has to do with the “schiller” as described above. The formation of moonstone creates this effect of the light being reflected around underneath the surface of the stone.
If you move the stone, the sheen inside the stone appears to move.
This effect results from the internal structure of the elements that make up moonstone, which resembles repeating layers.
The internal structure of selenite does not have these layers, which is why moonstone has this luster that selenite never displays even when shined up and smooth.
While selenite could be confused with clear quartz, selenite would be really difficult to confuse with moonstone.
Other Physical Differences
Selenite is pretty well known to be extremely soft, and not all that durable. It is easily damaged, dented, dinged, and broken. It can be scratched with your fingernail.
Moonstone, on the other hand, is a much harder substance. Selenite rates a 2 on the Moh’s scale of hardness. Moonstone is much more like quartz in its hardness, as it rates a 6 out of 10.
If you have a stone in your hand that you think could be either selenite or moonstone, and you don’t observe the luster we’ve described here (or the stone is still really raw), try scratching it with your fingernail.
If your fingernail doesn’t leave a mark, you can at least put the question of whether the stone is selenite to rest.
You might not have confirmed that your stone is moonstone, but at least you’ll know whether or not it is selenite.
Why Do People Confuse Moonstone With Selenite?
We suspect that the confusion starts with the name of selenite stone. The name “Selenite” is derived from the name of the Greek goddess of the moon, Selene.
People often informally call it “a moon stone” or “one of the stones of the moon.”
Moonstone, on the other hand, is called thusly because of its appearance. The ancient Romans thought that moonstone was actually a piece of frozen moonlight.
Because the names moon and stone as used so frequently to describe these two distinct minerals, it is no wonder that people are confused about which is which.
What Are Selenite and Moonstone Used For?
Because of its unique luster and beauty, moonstone is frequently used in decorations and jewelry.
When moonstone is expertly cut, polished, and set well to exploited the way light reacts to it, it can be quite valuable.
Selenite, through less beautiful, is also used in decor and in jewelry. Gypsum selenite is also used in many industrial products (drywall, chalk, plaster of paris, etc).
If you are asking about the metaphysical side, here are some of the ways people make use of each of these materials.
- Purifies and cleanses
- Conducts energy
- Shifts through energy blocks
- Brings peace to the head and heart
While most people like to hold a piece of selenite, carry it with them in a pocket, or sleep with their selenite wand, others use its cleansing properties to cleanse and other stones.
- Soothes stress and instability
- Promotes inspiration an
- Opens the heart and encourages love/romance
- Cultivates compassion and empathy
How Can You Tell If You Have Fake Moonstone?
As we’ve discussed, the luster of the moonstone is what makes it unique.
If you have a piece of a material that someone is trying to sell you as moonstone, hold up the piece to the light.
Move it around.
Does the luster move as you move the stone, or not?
If the luster does not vary much as you change the viewing angle, then the odds are good that the piece is not true moonstone.
It might be some other mineral, or it could be glass, acrylic, or even resin.
How Can You Tell If You Have Fake Selenite?
The best way to identify fake selenite is by using the scratch test.
If you can’t scratch the piece with your fingernail and leave a mark, the piece could be another mineral, resin, or plastic.
Curious to learn more about minerals and crystals like selenite and moonstone (with answers to questions you never knew you had, like about whether selenite lamps are safe for cats?) Check out our blog for our latest articles.