Sunstone Gemstone Information



Sunstone is a variety of Labradorite feldspar that generally shows an opaque "schiller" effect where the metallic inclusions reflect light in a blaze of color. However, it can also come in clear stones which are suitable for faceting. These facetable forms are usually pale yellow, but in Oregon, USA they are also found in beautiful shades of Red, orange and green.
 
Sunstone is a gemstone that is formed as crystals in slow cooling basaltic lava flows, much like Peridot. Sunstone is actually closely related to moonstone. Large quantities of gem-quality labradorite, most of it water-clear, straw yellow, or yellow sunstone, have been produced from deposits in southeastern Oregon for many years. In the shiller type of  sunstone, the labradorite contains millions of copper colored platelets that reflects the light with varying intensities resulting in a golden-red play of color. The "Schiller" phenomenon (aventurescence) makes the stone appear to "glow" as if it had it's own internal light source.  Aventurescent Sunstones with Schiller retain this unique "glow" even when viewed from a great distance and by evening lights. In fact, the presence of these bright inclusions was the reason for naming it Sunstone or Heliolite, from the Greek helios for sun and lithos for stone.
 
Although the common color of Oregon sunstone is straw-yellow, it also can be pink, peach, red, salmon red-orange, red-green, and blue-green. It also can be bicolored and tricolored in combinations of yellow, red, and green, and a small percentage is di- and tri-chroic. Oregon Red Sunstone differs from Sunstones found in other worldwide locales in color, a strong pleochroism, showing multiple colors in a single stone. The loose Oregon Sunstone is found with copper in it which is the cause for the range of colors in the stone from water color to yellow and many shades of green, red and pink.
 
Sunstone gems from Oregon in the US are very rare and unique in that they offer the shiller effect due to inclusions of copper, while the sunstone from India and other locations is due to inclusions of hematite. There is a signification difference in value of the two types as the Oregon Sunstone with copper inclusions is far more rare and valuable.
 
The prices, uses and value of Sunstone can differ greatly, depending on the size and quality of the  individual gemstone. AJS Gems is your source for the highest quality colored gems from across the globe, available at Bangkok direct wholesale prices. Creating the finest jewelry starts with finding the best gemstones, and the best gemstones are found at AJS Gems.
 

Why Buy Loose Gemstones Instead of Pre-Set Jewelry?
 
There are many reasons, but basically it boils down to value and choice.

When buying your Sunstone gemstone loose instead of a pre-set stone, you can be sure you are getting the best value for your money.  Loose gemstones are less expensive, a better value, and you can really see what you are paying for.  The most important part of getting the right price and finding the best value is to first see what you're getting.  A jewelry setting will hide the inclusions inside a gem, and can deepen or brighten its color.  With a loose stone you can much more easily inspect the gem and see it for what it really is.  In this way you can get a better idea of its true worth and be sure you are paying a fair price.

The second advantage of buying a loose gemstone is choice.  You are free to pick the exact color, cut, shape and variety of the stone for the setting of your dreams, be it yellow gold, white gold, platinum or silver; prong set or bezel set with diamond accents.  You can experience the joy of creating your very own, one-of-a-kind jewelry design. Choose from a variety of jewelry settings and styles to create a completely original presentation that will perfectly suit your individual gemstone and will be as unique as you are!
 

Sunstone Jewelry                                                    Sunstone Ring

 

  Attributes

Origin Sunstone mines are located mainly in India, Canada, Norway, China, United States, Africa and Russia.  The finest Sunstone comes from the U.S. state of Oregon.
Color Shiny yellow, orange, brown to red
Refractive Index 1.532 - 1.542
Chemical Composition Na(AlSi3O8)Ca(Al2Si2O8)
Hardness 6 - 6.5
Density 2.62 - 2.65
Crystal Structure Triclinic

 

 Sunstone                                                        Sunstone Crystal

 

Sunstone is a type of oligoclase feldspar that has tiny hematite, and sometimes copper, inclusions known as schiller that reflect light in a lovely sparkling pattern, called aventurescence.

Sunstone has a refractive index of 1.532 - 1.542 and a specific gravity of 2.62 - 2.65.  The refractive index (RI), measured using a refractometer, is an indication of the amount light rays are bent by a mineral. Birefringence is the difference between the minimum and maximum RI. When birefringence is high, light rays reflect off different parts of the back of a stone causing an apparent doubling of the back facets when viewed through the front facet.

Most gems have a crystalline structure. Crystals have planes of symmetry and are divided into seven symmetry systems. The number of axes, their length, and their angle to each other determine the system to which a crystal belongs. Sunstone gemstones crystallize in the triclinic crystal system.


Color


Sunstone is metallic in appearance and comes in red, orange or green colors. 

The transparent Oregon Sunstone gems from this area that are suitable for faceting come in a variety of colors, including pale yellow, salmon pink, green and the highly desirable bright red hue. Clean Red Sunstone is much rarer and commands true Gemstone prices.  It is a rare and sought after collector's item and makes for spectacular jewelry.

 

Cut

Sunstone is generally cut to round or oval cabochons, but sometimes faceted in emerald cut.

AJS Gems fully discloses any and all known treatments to our gemstones.


Treatments

Sunstone Labradorite Feldspar is not treated or altered to improve its appearance.

 

Sources

Sunstone is formed in molten lava and is discharged onto the surface with the help of a volcano. The lava weathers away or is broken. Fine crystals of sunstone is then released.
 
The most famous source of fine sunstones is the state of Oregon in the US. A number of old basalt flows within this state contain the valuable red gem. The best known is located near the tiny town of Plush, in the south central part of the state, not far north of the Nevada border. These deposits are being actively worked by a couple of different companies.  Sunstones are mined from the surface from partially decomposed rock with a pick and shovel, or mechanically with bull dozers and other equipment. Shallow pits are dug to retrieve the rough material which is mixed in with basalt rock. It has to be screened and the gem crystals separated from the rock by sight. Un-weathered deposits release rough only by blasting and tunneling which often shatters the loose sunstone rough. Because of cold weather and the remote location, the mining season averages approximately six months.
 
In 1980, the availability and quality of sunstone, other than the standard yellow Oregon variety, drastically increased with the discovery of another sunstone deposit that was to become the Ponderosa Mine near Burns. The vivid-red faceted stones and velvety-red cabochons from this mine set a new world standard for beauty, not just for red sunstone, but for any sunstone. The opening of the mine also increased the supply of peach, salmon red-orange, red-green, green, blue-green, and bicolored and tricolored in combinations of yellow, red, and green. It seems that because of these multiple sources, that for the first time ever, there was a continuous U.S. supply of the more desirable colors in most of the calibrated sizes up to several carats needed by the jewelry industry.  The supply from the Oregon deposits should continue to be adequate for many years into the future.

Some other Sunstone gems are also found in India and Tanzania. The Indian sunstone shows a coarser aventurescent sparkle in the shiller that is present in the stones when compared to the Oregon stones. It is said that the source of the shiller in the Indian stones are included crystals of Hematite.


Mythology


Sunstone is also known as Heliolite, from the Greek helios for sun and lithos for stone.

In ancient times, Sunstone was used by natives for barter.

Sunstone was also believed by the Vikings to be a talisman for navigation.

Today, it is widely linked with human being as protective energy. It lends extra energy at times of stress or ill health. Claims are also there that it can assist contemplative processes and bolster the energy level.

Pope Clement VII (1478-1534) was reputed to have in his possession a sunstone with a golden spot that moves across the surface in accord with the apparent motion of the sun from sunrise to sunset.

Sunstone is the State Gem of Oregon, which is the prime source for this beautiful Gem. 

 

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