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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Sunstone

The golden sheen flashing off of this sunstone is due to the presence of hematite platelet inclusions. This gem is the first sunstone from Tanzania in the National Gem Collection.
Photo by Greg Polley. Click to zoom.
Catalog Number NMNH G10700-00
Locality Tanzania
Weight 17.91 ct

Gift of Mr. Paul Merkel in 2011.

The minerals in the feldspar family make up more than half of the Earth’s crust. Occasionally these common minerals form crystals that shimmer like the light of the moon or a rainbow on a soap bubble. The gems cut from these iridescent crystals are called sunstones, moonstones, and labradorite. Sunstones exhibit a reddish to golden schiller, resulting from light reflecting off numerous tiny copper or hematite (iron oxide) flakes scattered within the stones. The golden sheen flashing off of this 17.91ct sunstone from Tanzania is due to the presence of hematite platelet inclusions. This gem is the first sunstone from Tanzania in the National Gem Collection.


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