Sunstone Gemstone Information
Few stones have the radiance of the sunstone gem. In most cases, those who see the sunstone crystal in person immediately understand how the gemstone got its name, as its striking appearance makes it particularly apt.
However, while the sunstone crystal is visually inspiring, it also isn’t as well known as some people would expect. If you’re curious about the sunstone gemstone, including its properties, coloring, history, and more, here’s what you need to know.
The sunstone gemstone – which is at times called heliolite, isn’t technically a gem. Instead, it’s a feldspar mineral.
One of the most intriguing characteristics of the sunstone crystal is its aventurescence, creating a metallic-like shimmer that emanates from within the crystal. It gives the stone a unique glow, adding a sense of radiance to the crystal that many feel mimics the warmth of sunlight.
Generally, the aventurescence is stronger in stones with more inclusions. Usually, it’s the presence of copper, goethite, or hematite that gives the sunstone gem its glittery look. If there aren’t many inclusions, the shimmer is weaker, often making the stone less desirable.
It is usually the aventurescent quality that attracts people to sunstone. As a result, many jewelry designers and lapidaries actively demonstrate this trait to potential buyers, ensuring they get to witness the amazing beauty of the characteristic shimmer.
Sunstone is available in a range of colors, typically running from clear to vibrant red. Usually, the strength of the color is at least partially dependent on the amount of copper within the stone, as it adds a pink or reddish hue to the gem.
At times, the color of a sunstone sample is consistent, though other pieces will have variations. When there are variations, they tend to create a gradient. However, you can also find stones with distinct edges between colors, although that’s less common.
Rarely, you’ll also find natural blue or green sunstones. However, some sunstone crystals in those colors have been treated. As a result, it’s important to be cautious when purchasing blue or green sunstones and marketed as genuine, as the hue may not be natural.
The History of Sunstone
Many people are surprised when they hear that sunstone has been known for several hundred years. Native Americans were particularly fond of the gem, at times using it to facilitate trade by using it similarly to currency.
Generally speaking, sunstone is considered an ornamental stone. While it has its place in jewelry and as a collectible, it isn’t traditionally used for industrial purposes.
At one point, Tiffany & Company was so intrigued by the stone’s potential that the company acquired a sunstone mining operation. While they spent quite some time producing faceted and cabochon sunstone gems - marketing clear versions at “Plush Diamonds” - the company eventually sold their claim.
One fun fact is that the Oregon sunstone is the state gemstone of Oregon. Local jewelry designers and lapidaries in that region frequently use the sunstone crystal in creation, often singing its praises to tourists looking for unique keepsakes from their trip.
Where Is Sunstone Found?
Sunstone is found in a few different places in the world. One of the most notable sources is the state of Oregon. In the United States, commercial sunstone mining began during the early 1900s and has largely continued since. However, it has been known to be in the area for much longer.
Sunstone mining operations have existed in other parts of the world, as well. Two other recognized sources are Russia and Norway, both of which had mining operations begin in the 1800s and, at times, still produce stones today.
Other areas have produced sunstone as well. These include Australia, Canada, China, Congo, Ethiopia, India, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and other areas of the United States.
Sunstone vs. Moonstone
Both sunstone and moonstone are feldspar minerals that come in a range of colors. While sunstone is usually found in hues ranging from light yellow to vibrant red, moonstone may be colorless, white, gray, pink, green, yellow, or brown.
When it comes to the differences between sunstone and moonstone, the most dramatic one is the shimmer. While sunstone’s aventurescence gives the stone a metallic glitter, moonstone usually has a pearly luster that can mimic a rainbow. Additionally, the moonstone glow tends to be softer, while sunstone’s has a distinct sparkle due to the inclusions.
If you’re looking for sunstone gemstone jewelry, you usually won’t find it in a major chain. However, independent designers adore the stone, making sunstone jewelry reasonably available.
When it comes to the gem’s shape, both faceted and cabochon sunstone are widely available, though you can also find tumbled stones and beads. Usually, the quality and characteristics of the individual piece play a big role in determining which approach is used.
If the aventurescence is strong, turning it into a cabochon ensures that trait stands out. If the stone is incredibly transparent, faceting highlights that quality.
Now, this doesn’t mean that faceted stones can’t have aventurescence, as that isn’t the case. Instead, it’s the visibility of the inclusions that are the primary determining factor, as easily seen inclusions usually make faceting a less preferred approach.
When it comes to the types of jewelry pieces, sunstone rings, necklaces, bracelets, pendants, and earrings are all available. For bracelets, beaded strands are the most common, and you can also find strand necklaces. With pendants, cabochons, or tumbled stones are widely available, though you may see some faceted gems, as well. Rings and earrings may feature cabochons or faceted stones.
When it comes to pairings, sunstone works well with most supporting metals, so silver, white gold, yellow gold are generally easy to find. At times, you may also spot pieces featuring copper or rose gold. You can also find sunstone and moonstone jewelry, giving those who appreciate both stones some amazing options.
One important thing to note for anyone interested in sunstone jewelry is that the stone shouldn’t be exposed to rough wear. An impact can lead to damage, so sunstone is best suited for pieces where the chances of it striking an object are minimal. Otherwise, it’s wise to remove the jewelry before taking part in any activity where the stone could hit a hard surface.
The sunstone meaning can vary a bit depending on a person’s belief system. When it comes to the benefits of sunstone, some connect it to good fortune. For others, the sunstone crystal meaning focuses more on vitality or may be connected to the solar plexus charka due to its coloring.
As for sunstone healing properties, some think it can serve as a mood-booster and may assist with certain ailments related to the digestive system. However, wearing, holding, or meditating on a stone isn’t scientifically proven to be beneficial and should not be considered a substitute for medical care.
Stones Similar to Sunstone
Generally, if you’re looking for a gem resembling sunstone, you want to focus on other aventurescent crystals. For example, aventurine can be a reasonable stand-in. While most aventurine is green, there are orange and yellow versions as well. The main difference is that aventurine’s shimmer tends to be cooler, leaning more toward a silvery blue or green, while sunstone has a warmer glitter.
There is also a synthetic sunstone that’s made of glass, which is frequently marketed as goldstone. With goldstone, you get the metallic shimmer, as inclusions have been built into the glass. Additionally, it’s available in various colors, including yellow, red, blue, and green.