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Also known as "aventurescent feldspar" because some specimens contain light-reflecting inclusions that produce a bright flash.


Oregon Sunstoneas a faceted stone and a cabochon. The stone on the left is a beautiful orange 7x5 mm oval faceted stone weighing 1.01 carats. The stone on the right is a 7 mm round cabochon with abundant copper platelets weighing 2.29 carats. Both stones are from the Spectrum Sunstone Mine near Plush, Oregon.

What is Sunstone?

The name "sunstone" is used for specimens of translucent to transparent feldspar that produce bright metallic flashes when light interacts with tiny plate-like mineral inclusions within the stone. These mineral inclusions usually have a common orientation, and light entering the stone reflects from them at a common angle. This produces a flash of light in the eye of the observer who views them at the proper angle. This optical phenomenon is known as "aventurescence."

The first materials to be called "sunstone" because of their aventurescence were specimens of oligoclase, aplagioclasefeldspar. As other types of feldspar with a strong aventurescence were discovered, the name was also applied to them.Labradoritefeldspar (another plagioclase) and orthoclase feldspar have both been found with strong aventurescence. [1]

The aventurescent flash of light produced by a sunstone can be observed by three different actions:

  1. moving the stone in the light
  2. moving the position of the light
  3. moving the eye of the observer

Sunstone is also known as "heliolite" and more commonly "aventurescent feldspar." It is cut intocabochons, beads, and small sculptures. The most transparent pieces are used to produce faceted stones.

Sunstone is popular with innovative jewelry designers and is especially popular in the geographic areas where it is commercially mined. It is not agemstonethat is seen in every jewelry store, and many jewelry buyers have never witnessed its aventurescence. However, once a person is given a demonstration of sunstone’s aventurescence, they often want to try it and are fascinated. It is a gemstone that sells best if the jeweler takes a moment to educate the buyer about aventurescence.

aventurescent sunstone

Aventurescent sunstone:Close-up photo of the round sunstone cabochon from the top image, showing beautiful flashes of aventurescence caused by light reflecting from the copper platelet inclusions within the stone.

Sunstone Localities

Aventurescent feldspar has been found in Australia, Canada, China, Congo, India, Mexico, Norway, Russia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, the United States (Oregon, New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania) and other localities.

The most famous sunstone deposits in the United States are located in Oregon. A few of the sunstone deposits in Oregon are large enough to sustain mining operations. They are found in certainbasaltflows in Lake County and Harney County. There the sunstone occurs as phenocrysts within the basalt. Some sunstone is produced from the weathered zone above the basalt flows, and some is produced from the basalt.

The Oregon basalt flows that contain sunstone are located mainly on public land, and many productive or promising areas are held by mining claims. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has reserved one area in Lake County as a public collecting area where anyone can enter, look for sunstone, and keep what they find for personal use. Collectors must follow BLM’s collecting rules and stay off of adjacent lands where mining claims have been registered. Collecting on land with an active mining claim can only be done with the owner's permission. [2]

sunstone cabochon with copper

Sunstone with copper inclusions:Close-up photo of the round sunstone cabochon from the top image on this page showing a blizzard of copper platelets inside.

sunstone cabochon with copper layers

Layered copper inclusions:Close-up photo of the same cabochon as above, from an angle that shows how the copper inclusions



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35 months ago
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35 months ago

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35 months ago
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35 months ago
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35 months ago
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35 months ago

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35 months ago