Sherlock Holmes, a character in Jane Eyre Gets Real, can’t deduce how Wilkie Collins beat out Arthur Conan Doyle to write the first full-length detective novel. Published in 1868, and written in the form of letters (the 19th century equivalent of email, lol), The Moonstone centers around the inheritance of a huge jewel which sets off an Indian curse, theft, and murder. This fictional “moonstone” has an association with the Hindu god Chandra and was supposed to gain brilliance when the moon waxed. Technically, Collins’s moonstone was a diamond, much more expensive but less poetic.
There is an actual moonstone, a kind of feldspar, which is the birthstone for July and the sign of Cancer. Cancer is named for the crab, not the disease, and is linked to all things lunar, as crabs themselves have behaviors dictated by moon cycles, just like werewolves and humans…The semi-precious moonstone gem was beloved by the Victorians who, with their usual literal-minded precision, often carved it into the likeness of the man in the moon and wore it as a ring on their finger. This translucent stone is supposed to be a reflection of the person who owns it, and was favored by 19th-century men who wanted to get in touch with their feminine side. Women wore it during the full moon for luck and to gain understanding, long before therapy and tranquilizers, into their own complicated psyches. So next time, before you reach for that Xanax, you might want to simply don a necklace made of moonstones.