All About Sunstone: The Golden Child of Gemstone Lovers

All About Sunstone: The Golden Child of Gemstone Lovers


Sunstone is a unique gem regarded for its radiant, golden hues that mirror the sun's rays. Its warm, sparkling hues are stunning and have enchanted humankind for centuries, for both its beauty and meaning. In this blog post, I explore all about sunstone, sunstone jewelry, and the benefits of adding sunstone to your day-to-day wardrobe.

You won't want to skimp on this one!

What Is Sunstone?

Sunstone is a natural gem that belongs to the feldspar mineral group. Its characteristic aventurescence, or sun-like sparkle, is caused by the reflection of light from tiny, plate-like inclusions of copper or hematite within the stone. 

Sunstone's unique color and dazzling luminescence make it a top choice for gemstone lovers and jewelers, who also value its affordability and sturdiness. Sunstone ranges from six to seven on the Mohs scale, making it safe and durable for jewelry use.

14K Gold & Sunstone Earring Jackets

But don't disregard susntone as a cheap gem! Sunstone's quality markers are its color and clarity, size, aventurescence (golden sparkle), and origin. You'll find that depending on these values, the price per carat can range from as little as $20 all the way up to $1,000 for the finest examples.

Sunstone Meaning & Heritage

Sunstone is often associated with the energy and vitality of the sun. Some of its spiritual properties are positivity, strength, creativity, and abundance. Today, many believe wearing this gem can positively influence the mind, body, and spirit but these meanings date centuries back.

In classic times, the Greeks associated sunstone with their sun gods, Apollo and Helios. Later, the Vikings used sunstone as a navigational aid due to its ability to polarize light, helping them locate the sun on cloudy days. And, in America, sunstone was used as a form of currency by some Native tribes, mainly in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States.

Some indigenous peoples valued sunstone not only for its beauty but also for its cultural and spiritual significance, somuch so that Oregon designated sunstone as its state gemstone in 1987.

Where Is Sunstone Sourced From?

Sunstone forms in molten lava and is often found in areas with volcanic activity. Presently, some major sources of sunstone are:

  • United States (Oregon): Home to the famous Oregon sunstone, celebrated for its high quality and range of colors.
  • Norway: Known for its beautiful specimens with a strong aventurescent effect.
  • India: A significant source of sunstone with more subtle colors and shimmer.

Ethically-Sourced Sunstone, Homegrown in the USA

Although you can find sunstone elsewhere in the world, they are very commonly mined in Oregon, New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Oregon sunstone is actually classified as copper-bearing plagioclase feldspar, which is found no other place on earth.


Sunstone Necklace with 14K Ribbon Clasp

Oregon sunstones are growing in popularity and have some unique features that make them so desirable. This is important for us because I put high importance on ethical sourcing and local materials. I love to use sunstones from the Sunstone Butte Mine or Dust Devil Mine whenever possible, and ideally they’re locally faceted as well!

A Colorful Feat of Nature

There are several major factors a gemologist would note to describe the color of gems. One of those is pleochroism, a variation of color with direction in doubly refractive gems. Sunstones are biaxial, which means they “possess three different vibration directions—alpha (α), beta (β), and gamma (γ)—and so may show three different colors (trichroism),” according to GIA.

Sunstone naturally occurs in yellow, red, green, or a mix of these colors. You might think this combination would be strange, but it truly is a gorgeous feat of nature. The display of these colors is really all about how the gemstone is cut.


14K Gold, Sunstone, & Diamond Earrings



Sunstone Sparkle Is All About the Cut

A talented and experienced lapidary will know how to bring out the best of any gem, but especially sunstone with its unique features. To showcase the aventurescence effectively, a talented lapidary, or gem cutter, is essential. The skill of the lapidary determines how well the stone’s internal features are highlighted. The cut needs to be precisely angled to maximize the light entering and reflecting off the inclusions. One of my favorite gem cutters is John Dyer, who has faceted incredible AGTA award-winning gems.

These are three factors that enhance the gemstone’s natural sparkle:

14K One of a Kind Sculptural Curves Pendant with Oregon Sunstone

  1. Orientation: Proper orientation of the stone during cutting is crucial. The lapidary must understand the direction of the inclusions to ensure the aventurescence is prominently displayed.
  2. Faceting: The choice of faceting style can greatly influence the brilliance of the stone. Facets need to be cut at specific angles to create the best light performance, drawing out the stone's inner fire.
  3. Polishing: A high-quality polish enhances the reflective properties of the stone, adding to the overall sparkle and brilliance.

Sunstone & Gold: A Stellar Match

While the cut brings out the best in sunstone, the setting also plays a vital role in complementing its beauty. Yellow gold is particularly complementary to the warm sparkle of sunstone. The rich, warm tones of yellow gold enhance the reddish-orange hues and the glittering effect of the stone. Sunstone and gold are a harmonious and eye-catching combination; check out my designs here.


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