Quick Reference Guide to Sunstone

Quick Reference Guide to Sunstone

With the growing popularity and demand of Oregon Sunstone, there is a great deal of confusion (or maybe not) among many gemstone dealers regarding the difference in Oregon Sunstone and other types of sunstones on the market. The name “sunstone” is formulated for the obvious reason that the various gemstones who use that name provide a unique beauty and reflective qualities. The key issue is what creates those unique qualities that make each sunstone unique. Since Oregon Sunstone is fast becoming the most in-demand and therefore the most valuable of the sunstones, all too often dealers in the other types try to assimilate terms like Oregon Sunstone’s “schiller” into their own sales presentations. To clarify the issues, today we will present a quick reference guide to the most often seen sunstones on the market. Each is unique. All are beautiful. But qualities and values vary greatly among them. Therefore, today we present a Quick Reference Guide to Sunstone.  

Copper In Oregon Sunstone

We start with the most rare and valuable, Oregon Sunstone. Below is a high magnification look at the copper granules in Oregon sunstone. This is copper schiller. We won’t go into the red and green colors that result from this copper as this is an inclusion directory, but it is important to know that only Oregon Sunstone has copper inclusions and they do not appear as platelets.


Tanzanian Confetti Sunstone

The picture below tells the story of the name. Here the red color of the platelets identify these as hematite platelets. While hematite and goethite are both types of platelet-appearing iron inclusions, the red color of the Confetti Sunstone is the indicator of the hematite. The “confetti” appearance is the most often seen appearance of the Tanzanian Confetti Sunstone.



Indian Sunstone

The unique appearance of these goethite platelets are not only an identifier they are also very fun inclusions to study due to the rhomboid shapes of the platelets. The dark brown and yellow colors tell the story of the goethite content, and they are generally aligned based on the crystal structure.


Australian Rainbow Lattice Sunstone

This is a relatively new find of sunstone colored by hematite and magnetite. The dark platelets are generally understood to be magnetite while the rainbow colored platelets are hematite. Like all of the iron based inclusions in this and the above two specimens, the actual type of iron platelet may vary. However, these are all iron based platelet inclusions while only the Oregon Sunstone has copper as inclusions as the coloring element. Image below from rainbowlattice.com, the Australian mining company website.

I hope this short, pictorial Sunstone Directory is of benefit to help both sellers and buyers better understand the identifiers of the types and origins of sunstone. Remember, there always exists the possibility that other types are out there waiting to be discovered or varieties of the above that are not shown. This is a general overview to help you make a quick distinction between the most often seen types of feldspar sunstone on the market.

Other than the Rainbow Lattice specimen, all images were taken in the ISG gem lab using our Meiji Techno GEMZ-5 microscope and Canon A-510 camera at 10x – 90x standard magnification.