Oregon sunstone is a feldspar crystal formed in molten lava and then discharged onto the surface of the earth by a volcano. As the lava weathers away or is broken up the crystals are released.
While feldspars are found all over the world, they are rarely gem grade. Central Oregon is one of the few places where this type of feldspar is found in gem grade and large enough to cut stones for jewelry.
A Diverse Range of Colors
Oregon is the only place in the world where gem grade Sunstones are found containing copper. Varying amounts of copper cause the stones to range in color from water clear to yellow, as well as many shades of green, red and pink. Some stones contain from two to four of these colors. Some rare stones will even change colors in different light as alexandrite does, and some are different colors when viewed from different directions (dichroic and trichroic).
Stripe schiller involves included particles or clusters of particles distributed in planes. Though the planes may be wide or narrow, they often appear as reflective stripes within the stone, whether rough or cut. In the following photo of a cut stone, the edges of schiller stripes are clearly visible:
A 100-times magnification of stripe schiller shows the reflective particles distributed in planes, their orderly arrangement like city lights seen from a jetliner:
Stripe schiller can be seen at the broken left edge of this rough sunstone. The pink glow at the far end is light reflecting off the stripe schiller.
Here, silver stripe schiller lights up an emerald cut sunstone like neon:
At 50-times magnification, the individual stripes are clearly visible:
Whether faceted, cabbed, or carved, Oregon Sunstone with stripe schiller can be used to create stunning effects that would be impossible with any other gemstone!
Snowflake schiller involves an even or random distribution of included particles or clusters of particles. Even in a piece of rough sunstone, snowflake schiller creates an effect like a toy glitter-globe (50X magnification of snowflake schiller):
A 100-times magnification of the above piece of rough shows the layered, seemingly-random distribution of snowflake schiller particles. Even fixed within solid stone, they appear to be moving:
Snowflake schiller can create an effect like a toy glitter-globe, while giving the entire stone a warm pink glow. This is one example of a faceted stone exhibiting snowflake schiller:
Rock hound and well-known fine jewelry designer Karla Proud is a long-time visitor of Dust Devil Mine. Over the years, Karla has extracted exceptional rough and created extraordinary jewelry from her finds. You can see and purchase Karla's Oregon Sunstone jewelry online.
- SUNSTONE LORE
In ancient times, sunstones were used by natives for barter. They were thought by the Vikings to be a talisman for navigation. New age thought links sunstone to protective energy. It is also said to lend extra physical energy in times of stress or ill health. Others claim that sunstone can assist contemplative processes and bolster the energy level.
- PROPERTIES OF SUNSTONE
- Color of streak: White
- (1)Mohs' Hardness: 6.5 - 7.2
- Density 2.62 - 2.65
- Cleavage: Perfect in 2 directions
- Heat Sensitivity: low
- Crystal System: Triclinic
- Chemical Composition:
(sodium calcium aluminum silicate)
(Ca, NA)(Al, Si)2Si2O8
- Refractive Index: 1.525 - 1.58
- Double Refraction: weak to medium
- Dispersion: weak
- Critical Angle: 41 degrees
- Cutting and Polishing tips
Although most references show sunstone feldspar having a hardness of 6 - 6.5, sunstones from the Dust Devil Mine have always tested 6.5 - 7.2 hardness.