SUNSTONE / Heliolite

SUNSTONE / Heliolite

Sunstone is a natural stone that got its name from a man-made glass made with copper that was discovered by chance (hence, its name Ventura) by an Italian glass maker.

Sunstone is composed of sodium calcium aluminum silicate, with a hardness ranging from 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale. It has a perfect cleavage. Sunstone comes in a variety of colors such as orange, red, brown, and pink. When cut and polished, sunstone has a sparkling glass-like luster. It also has a dark brown-red fluorescence. Sunstone is also known as "heliolite" and more commonly "aventurescent feldspar."

Sunstone is a Feldspar mineral.

Feldspar minerals are the most abundant minerals on Earth, the second most abundant mineral are Quartz. Feldspars are classified based on their chemical composition either as Plagioclase Feldspar or Potassium Feldspar.

Plagioclase Feldspars, which are a mixture of calcium and sodium, include Oligoclase (Sunstone), Labradorite (Rainbow Moonstone), and Andesine.

Potassium Feldspar gemstones include Orthoclase (adularescence Moonstone) and Microcline (Amazonite).

There are two types of Aventurine Feldspar. A type of green quartz and a variety of Feldspar that is golden. Sunstone refers to the Feldspar, whereas Aventurine refers to the quartz variety.

Both types of Felspar have an unusual metallic glittery appearance caused by inclusions. This glittery effect is known as aventurescence (often referred to as the Schiller Effect). This display of strong aventurescence will depend upon the size of the inclusions, which are usually composed of hematite or goethite or pyrite (and in the case of the Oregon Sunstone, the inclusions are made of copper). The smaller inclusions display more luster in the stone, whereas the larger inclusions make the gemstone appear glittering or shiny like a metal.

Sunstone aventurescence results in Sunstone having a gold, red, orange or yellow glitter, but on some rare occasions, it can also occur in a green or blue shimmer.

Sunstone is typically translucent to opaque, although it can also occur highly transparent. These transparent Sunstones, of course, being extremely rare, will also be the most desired and valuable.

The opaque Sunstone is cut as cabochons especially those that display the cat’s eye effect or asterism (star effect). The transparent Sunstone are faceted with large, flat surface to best maximize the glittering of the metal-like inclusions. Some of the Sunstone cabochons exhibit the star effect and are sold under the name of Star Sunstone.

Other popular trade names for Sunstone include "Oregon sunstone", and "cat's eye sunstone."

Sunstone often is confused with Aventurine Quartz, Orthoclase Moonstone and Goldstone which is a man-made artificial Italian glass with copper inclusions that exhibit the Schiller Effect.

Besides its Schiller Effect, Sunstone is also known to exhibit perfect cleavage which is a helpful distinguishing trait.

Sunstone is not known to be treated or enhanced in any way.

Sunstones are usually orange to red in color and its sparkle was liken unto the sun, thus, its name.

Because of this association with the sun, the Vikings used Sunstone as a talisman and as a sort of compass to locate the sun on cloudy days. They also buried their kinsfolk with Sunstones.
Native Americans believed that the reddish inclusions found within the Sunstone was because once upon a time a great and powerful shaman warrior was wound by an arrow and his blood dropped onto pieces of the Oregon Sunstone. The spirit of this great warrior was carried into the stone giving it great sacred power.

It was believed that Sunstone contain within itself the power and influence of the sun, and thus a Sunstone was used to call upon the sun for its protection.

Sunstone was believed to contain magical properties and was used to invoke the energy of the sun. The ancient Greeks believed that it was a representation of the Sun God here on Earth. The ancient Greek held that people who were able to obtain the Sacred Sunstone were very lucky and fortunate because allegedly it brought with itself life, love and abundance, and wealth to the wearer.

In ancient times, Sunstone was connected with good luck, fortune and wealth. It was also used as a type of money or barter.

Today Sunstone is the preferred stone that is used in alternative, crystal healing.

The most common shapes for Sunstones include ovals, pears, rounds, and fancy.

Due to its brittle tenacity, Sunstones are usually fashioned into earrings and pendants as these are less prone to accidental scratches. If fashioned into a ring, it should come with a protective-style setting.

Sunstones are often tumbled or polished into beads ideal for necklaces and bracelets. The translucent to transparent Sunstones are faceted into fancy shapes suitable for fashion jewelry accessories.

To clean your Sunstone simply use a soft cloth with soap and water. Rinse your Sunstone gemstone and make sure that all soapy residue is removed.

Sunstone deposits are found in India, Canada, Madagascar, Norway, Russia and in the United States.

The State of Oregon in the United States adopted the Sunstone in 1987 as the state mineral. The Sunstone from Oregon, USA, is the only Sunstone that shimmers due to its copper inclusions.