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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Oregon Sunstones

From left to right: Sunstone pendant (NMNH G10366-00); Spitfire sunstone (NMNH G10362-00); and Eternal Flight (NMNH G10343-00)
Photo by Ken Larsen. Click to zoom.
SpecimenCatalog NumberLocalityWeight
Spitfire sunstoneNMNH G10362-00Ponderosa mine, Oregon, United States4.53 ct
Labradorite (var. sunstone)NMNH G10366-00Ponderosa mine, Oregon, United States-
Eternal FlightNMNH G10343-00Ponderosa mine, Oregon, United States174 ct

Gift of Glenn Robert and Connie Dixon in 2004.

The minerals in the feldspar family make up more than half of the Earth’s crust. Occasionally these common minerals form crystals that have an optical phenomenon called aventurescence or shiller. Sunstones exhibit a reddish to golden sheen called schiller, resulting from light reflecting off numerous tiny copper or hematite (iron oxide) flakes scattered within the stones. Varying amounts of copper in Oregon sunstone cause the gems to range in color from colorless to yellow, as well as shades of green, red and pink. Some gems contain several colors, as seen in the carved sunstones pictured here. The pendant at far right was designed and carved by Nancy Chan and Greg Fraser; the center sunstone, “Spitfire,” is 4.53 carats and was faceted by Paul Paulson; the sunstone at far left, “Eternal Flight,” is 174 carats and was carved by Bobbie Lorett. This suite of carved and faceted Oregon Sunstones was a wonderful addition to the National Gem Collection in 2004.


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