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By Reviewed By Andreas Zabczyk

Sunstone Gemstone Information

Sunstone Gemstones - Large Image
Natural Sunstone Gemstone

About Sunstone - History and Introduction

Sunstone is a gem-quality member of the feldspar group of minerals. It is famed for its aventurescence, often referred to as 'schiller'. Sunstone may also be traded as 'aventurine feldspar', but nowadays, the term 'aventurine' is primarily used only in reference to the green quartz known as 'aventurine'. Not all sunstone exhibits strong aventurescence or schiller. The intensity of the optical phenomenon depends upon the size of inclusions, which are typically composed of hematite or goethite. Smaller inclusions tend to exhibit more sheen, while larger inclusions generally appear as glittery, spangled metallic reflections.

Sunstone is typically orange to reddish in color and its spangled appearance is reminiscent of the sun, hence its name 'sunstone'. There are actually a few different varieties of sunstone available today. Sunstone can be varieties of plagioclase (oligoclase sunstone) feldspar, or potassium feldspar (orthoclase sunstone). Oligoclase sunstone is more common than orthoclase sunstone. Essentially, any form of aventurescent feldspar can be marketed as 'aventurine feldspar'. Sunstone is the official state gemstone for Oregon, USA.


Identifying Sunstone

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Sunstone can often be identified by its glittery aventurescence alone, but it can sometimes be confused with other aventurescent gems such as aventurine quartz, or even other similar feldspars, such as orthoclase moonstone. It may also be confused with goldstone, an artificial aventurescent Italian glass with copper inclusions. Sunstone is slightly softer than quartz with a hardness rating of 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale. Its density ranges from 2.62 to 2.65 and its refractive index ranges between 1.525 and 1548. Sunstone is also known to exhibit perfect cleavage which can be a helpful distinguishing trait.

Sunstone; Origin and Sources

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Although sunstone deposits can be found in various locations around the world, there is no single source from which it is commercially mined. Some of the more significant, notable deposits come from India, Canada, Madagascar, Norway, Russia and the USA (Oregon, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Utah). Oregon, USA is famous for producing sunstone included with traces of copper.

Buying Sunstone and Determining Sunstone Value

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Sunstone Color

Sunstone is typically red-brown in body color with a metallic shimmering effect caused by tiny platelets of hematite, goethite or pyrite. The sunstone from Oregon, USA, shimmers due to copper inclusions. Sunstone schiller usually results in a gold, red, orange or yellow shimmer, but occasionally, it can also occur green or blue.

Sunstone Clarity and Luster

Sunstone is typically translucent to opaque, although some very fine materials can occur highly transparent. Sunstone is famed for its sparkling inclusions. It is the presence of these inclusions that are responsible for its attractive schiller or aventurescence. When cut and polished, sunstone has a vitreous luster, which is often described as sparkling.

Sunstone Cut and Shape

Sunstone is usually faceted with large, flat surfaces, which are best for maximizing the reflection of metallic inclusions. Some translucent to opaque materials may also be cut en cabochon, especially those which exhibit chatoyancy or star (asterism) effects. The most common shapes include ovals, pears and rounds, but other fancy shapes can be found.

Sunstone Treatment

Sunstone is not known to be treated or enhanced in any way.

Sunstone Gemological Properties:

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Chemical Formula: (Ca,Na)[(AlSi)2Si2O8]; Sodium calcium aluminum silicate
Crystal Structure: (Triclinic), rare, solid aggregates
Color: Orange, red, brown, pink
Hardness: 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale
Refractive Index: 1.525 to 1.548
Density: 2.62 to 2.65
Cleavage: Perfect
Transparency: Transparent, translucent to opaque
Double Refraction or Birefringence: 0.010
Luster: Vitreous
Fluorescence: Dark brown-red

Please refer to our Gemstone Glossary for details of gemology-related terms.

Sunstone: Related or Similar Gemstones

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Star Sunstone
Star Sunstone

Sunstone belongs to the very large group of feldspar minerals, which are actually the most abundant minerals on earth, followed secondly by quartz. Feldspars vary slightly in composition and are classified into two primary branches based on their chemical makeup: Potassium feldspar and plagioclase feldspar.

Potassium feldspar gems include orthoclase (moonstone) and microcline (amazonite). Orthoclase that exhibits adularescence is known as 'moonstone'. Plagioclase feldspars, which are a mixture of calcium and sodium, include labradorite (rainbow moonstone), andesine and oligoclase (sunstone). Some popular trade names for varieties of sunstone include "Oregon sunstone", "cat's eye sunstone" and "star sunstone".

Sunstone Mythology, Metaphysical and Crystal Healing Powers

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Sunstone is believed to have several metaphysical properties. Believers of paganism and Wicca often use sunstone for alternative and crystal healing. Traditionally, sunstone is linked to good luck, fortune and wealth. In ancient times, this stone was used by natives for trade and barter. Sunstone was believed to have been worn by the Vikings as talismans and used for navigation because it was associated with the sun. It was often used to call upon the power and influence of the sun and was used as a protective stone. In ancient Greece, sunstone was thought to symbolize the sun god. Many believed it could bring warmth, life and abundance to those who wore or possessed it.

Disclaimer: Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers and Properties are not to be taken as confirmed advice. Traditional, Ceremonial and Mythological Gemstone Lore is collected from various resources and does not represent the sole opinion of SETT Co., Ltd. This information is not to replace the advice of your doctor. Should you have any medical conditions, please see a licensed medical practitioner. GemSelect does not guarantee any claims or statements of healing or astrological birthstone powers and cannot be held liable under any circumstances.

Sunstone Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas

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Sunstone is not one of the more popular gemstones, but it is quite suitable for most jewelry applications. It is slightly softer than quartz and exhibits perfect cleavage along with a splintery fracture and brittle tenacity, which means that some care is required when caring for sunstone gemstones. For this reason, sunstone jewelry is best suited for earrings or pendants, but it can also be worn in rings with some caution and in protective-style settings. Sunstone is often cut en cabochon, tumbled or polished into sunstone beads. Beaded sunstone gems are ideal for making necklaces and bracelets. Faceted sunstone can be cut into a variety of fancy shapes perfect for any type of fashion jewelry accessory.

Note: Buy colored gemstones by size and not by carat weight. Colored stones vary in size-to-weight ratio. Some stones are larger and others are smaller than diamonds by weight in comparison.

Sunstone Gemstone Jewelry Care and Cleaning

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How to clean your gemstonesSunstone is not very durable or hard compared to most other types of jewelry gems, such as quartz, tourmaline or sapphire. Since ordinary dust often contains quartz, simply wiping dust off your sunstone can eventually result in surface scratches and reduced polish. Sunstone can also have a grainy, splintery fracture, which means that it requires some care during cutting or wear. Do not use any harsh chemicals or cleaners to clean your gems. Avoid using ultrasonic cleaners or steamers. Simply use a mild soap and a soft cloth to clean your gemstones. Rinse your gemstone well under lukewarm water to remove any soapy residue.

Always remove sunstone jewelry before exercising, playing sports or performing harsh household chores, such as dishwashing. When storing your sunstone gemstones, store them separately and away from other types of gems and jewelry. If possible, wrap sunstone gems individually using a soft cloth and place them inside a fabric-lined jewelry box for added protection.

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