Sunstone: Shimmering Gemstone

Sunstone is a variety of feldspar mineral that is known for its distinctive shimmering or glittering appearance caused by the presence of tiny inclusions of minerals. This optical phenomenon gives sunstone its characteristic appearance, reminiscent of the sun's rays. Sunstone is used in jewelry and decorative objects.

Sunstone comes in a variety of colors, including red, orange, yellow, green, and even colorless. The most valuable colors are typically deep red, green, or stones with intense bicolor tones.

Sunstone has a rich history and was used by ancient civilizations. The Vikings, for example, were believed to use sunstone for navigation due to its light-polarizing properties. In various cultures, it symbolizes the sun, prosperity, and vitality.

Sunstone Gemstones Colors

Types of Sunstone

There are several types of sunstone, categorized primarily based on their mineral composition and the nature of their aventurescence:

Oregon Sunstone: This is a variety of labradorite feldspar that contains copper inclusions, giving it a distinctive appearance. It can range in color from clear to shades of yellow, orange, red, green, and blue.

Indian Sunstone: Typically shows a pale to medium orange color with a glittery appearance due to hematite or goethite inclusions.

Plagioclase Sunstone: This type of sunstone typically contains inclusions of hematite or goethite. It is usually found in a range of colors from yellow to red and green.

Orthoclase Sunstone: This variety, sometimes referred to as orthoclase aventurine, contains inclusions of hematite, goethite, or ilmenite. It tends to have a more subdued shimmer compared to plagioclase sunstone.

Oligoclase Sunstone: This is a type of oligoclase feldspar with inclusions of copper or hematite, giving it a glittery effect. The colors range from colorless to yellow, orange, and red.

raw Oregon sunstones
Rough Oregon sunstones

Sunstone Properties

Physical Properties

  • Color: Sunstone comes in a variety of colors, including red, orange, yellow, and green.
  • Transparency: Sunstone can be transparent to translucent.
  • Luster: Sunstone has a vitreous to pearly luster. Vitreous luster means it has a glassy shine, while pearly luster has an iridescent quality like a pearl.
  • Hardness: Sunstone has a hardness of 6 to 7 on the Mohs scale.
  • Fracture: Sunstone has an uneven to conchoidal fracture. Uneven fractures have a rough, irregular surface, while conchoidal fractures are smooth and curved, like the inside of a shell.
  • Density: Sunstone has a density of 2.6 to 2.7 grams per cubic centimeter.

Optical Properties

  • Fluorescence: Sunstone does not fluoresce under ultraviolet light.
  • Pleochroism: Sunstone may exhibit weak pleochroism, meaning its color can appear slightly different depending on the viewing direction.
  • Refractive Index: Sunstone has a refractive index of 1.44 to 1.56. Refractive index is a measure of how light bends as it passes through a material.
  • Aventurescence: One of the most distinctive features of sunstone is its aventurescence or "schiller" effect. This optical phenomenon is caused by tiny, reflective inclusions of minerals such as hematite, copper, or goethite within the stone. When light hits these inclusions, it creates a sparkling or glittery effect, which can be quite mesmerizing.
Sunstone Gemstones
Cut Sunstone Gemstones

Where is Sunstone Found?

Sunstone can be found in various parts of the world. Some of the notable locations include:

United States: The state of Oregon is famous for its sunstone deposits, particularly in the Ponderosa and Rabbit Basin areas. Oregon sunstones are notable for their copper inclusions and range of colors.

Norway: Known for producing high-quality sunstone. Sunstone is found in various parts of Norway, particularly in the Telemark region.

Russia: Particularly in the Ural Mountains.

India: India produces sunstones, particularly in the Andhra Pradesh region, where stones often exhibit a golden to reddish color due to hematite inclusions.

Canada: Particularly in regions like Ontario.

Mexico: Another source of sunstone with unique properties.

Sunstone (Oligoclase)
Sunstone (Oligoclase) from Østerådalen, Østerå, Tvedestrand, Agder, Norway
Photo: Christopher O'Neill


Jewelry: Popular in rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets due to its attractive sparkle and color.

Decorative Items: Employed in various decorative objects and carvings.

Meditation: Used in meditation practices to enhance energy flow and emotional balance.

Feng Shui: Incorporated into Feng Shui for promoting positive energy and prosperity in living spaces.

Rough Sunstone from India

Sunstone Metaphysical Properties

Sunstone is a beautiful gemstone that is believed to have a number of metaphysical properties. It is often associated with the sun and its radiant energy, and is said to instill joy, optimism, and courage. Here are some of the commonly attributed metaphysical properties of sunstone:

Joy and Positivity: Sunstone is often associated with joy, positivity, and the nurturing energy of the sun. It is said to help lift moods and bring a sense of happiness and light.

Personal Power: This stone is believed to boost self-confidence and personal power. It encourages independence and originality, helping individuals to stand up for themselves and make decisions with clarity and confidence.

Creativity and Inspiration: This stone is said to stimulate creativity and encourage the flow of ideas. It is beneficial for artists, writers, and anyone involved in creative pursuits.

Leadership and Willpower: Sunstone is associated with leadership qualities and the enhancement of willpower. It helps in achieving goals by providing the strength and determination needed to overcome challenges.

Chakra Alignment: Primarily associated with the sacral chakra and solar plexus chakra, sunstone is believed to help in balancing these energy centers, promoting a healthy flow of energy throughout the body.

Optimism and Enthusiasm: The stone is said to encourage a sunny outlook on life, bringing optimism and enthusiasm. It helps to combat feelings of depression and negativity.

Emotional Healing: Sunstone is used in emotional healing practices to release past traumas and emotional blockages, promoting a sense of freedom and openness.

Zodiac Connection: Sunstone is often linked with the zodiac signs Leo and Libra, and is thought to harness the power of the sun to bring good fortune and alleviate stress.

People often use sunstone in meditation, carry it as a pocket stone, or wear it as jewelry to benefit from its metaphysical properties. As with all crystals and stones, the effects can be highly individual and are often influenced by personal beliefs and intentions.

Moonstone Vs. Sunstone

Sunstone Vs. Moonstone
Moonstone Vs. Sunstone 

Sunstone and moonstone are both beautiful gemstones, but they have distinct characteristics:

Chemical Composition

  • Sunstone: A type of plagioclase feldspar, specifically oligoclase or orthoclase.
  • Moonstone: A variety of orthoclase and albite, another type of feldspar.

Appearance and Optical Phenomena

  • Sunstone:
  • Color: Typically warm shades of yellow, orange, red, and brown.
  • Optical Effect: Aventurescence, Displays a glittery, spangled effect caused by light reflecting off tiny copper or hematite inclusions.
  • Moonstone:
  • Color: Generally white, but can be blue, peach, gray, or green.
  • Optical Effect: Adularescence, Exhibits a milky, bluish sheen that glides over the surface, caused by the scattering of light within the stone.

Chemical Composition

  • Sunstone: A type of plagioclase feldspar, specifically oligoclase or orthoclase.
  • Moonstone: A variety of orthoclase and albite, another type of feldspar.


Both are relatively soft but sunstone is slightly harder.

  • Sunstone: Hardness: 6-6.8 on the Mohs scale.
  • Moonstone: Hardness: 6-6.5 on the Mohs scale. 
Sunstone cabochons
Sunstone cabochons

Sunstone FAQs

How Can I Identify a Real Sunstone?

Authentic sunstone can be identified by its aventurescence and natural inclusions. Gemologists often use magnification and other tools to confirm its authenticity. Synthetic or imitation sunstones may lack these natural characteristics.

How is Sunstone Formed?

Sunstone is formed in igneous rocks through the slow cooling of molten lava, which allows crystals to grow. The reflective inclusions that give sunstone its sparkle are often caused by metallic minerals that crystallize within the stone.

How to care for Sunstone?

To maintain its beauty, sunstone should be cleaned with mild soap and warm water. Avoid using harsh chemicals or cleaners that can damage its surface. Store sunstone jewelry separately to prevent scratches from harder gemstones.


sunstone rings
Sunstone Rings

Is Sunstone a Birthstone?

Sunstone is not traditionally listed as one of the main birthstones, but it is sometimes used as an alternative stone for those born under the astrological sign of Leo or for individuals who are drawn to its warm, sunny energy.

What is the meaning of sunstone?

Sunstone is symbolically associated with joy, vitality, and leadership. It's believed to bring happiness, boost confidence, attract success, and clear negative energies. Its warm, radiant energy promotes creativity, inspiration, and overall well-being, making it a cherished gemstone for both its aesthetic and metaphysical qualities.

Read also:
Rainbow Lattice Sunstone 
Oregon Sunstone: Where to Find Sunstone

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