Sunstone Gemstone Information
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 Back to Top
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 Back to Top
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 Back to Top
Sunstone Gemological Properties: Back to Top
Please refer to our Gemstone Glossary for details of gemology-related terms.
Sunstone: Related or Similar Gemstones Back to Top
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 Back to Top
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.
Sunstone Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas Back to Top
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 Back to Top
Sunstone 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.
- First Published: May-09-2014
- Last Updated: May-23-2014
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