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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Sunstones

Modified shield-cut labradorite sunstone weighing 67.5 ct, faceted by Darryl Alexander and Aivan Pham.
Photo by Ken Larsen. Click to zoom.
SpecimenCatalog NumberLocalityWeight
Labradorite (var. sunstone)NMNH G11443-00Oregon, United States67.5 ct
Labradorite (var. sunstone)NMNH G11445-00Oregon, United States32.3 ct
Labradorite (var. sunstone)NMNH G11447-00Oregon, United States8.18 ct
Labradorite (var. sunstone)NMNH G11447-01Oregon, United States10.02 ct
Labradorite (var. sunstone)NMNH G11447-02Oregon, United States10.11 ct
Labradorite (var. sunstone)NMNH G11449-00Oregon, United States125 ct

Gift of Doug and Robin Malby in 2013.

The minerals in the feldspar family make up more than half of the Earth’s crust. Occasionally these common minerals form crystals that exhibit a sheen, an optical phenomenon called aventurescence or schiller. Sunstones exhibit a reddish to golden schiller, resulting from light reflecting off numerous tiny copper or hematite (iron oxide) flakes scattered within the stones. Varying amounts of copper, as well as the size of the copper inclusions, cause the Oregon sunstones to range in color from colorless to yellow, as well as shades of green, red and pink. Some gems contain several colors. These sunstones from Plush, Oregon are a variety of the plagioclase feldspar mineral labradorite. The name “sunstone” has been used for feldspars that exhibit schiller, however, the term is also used for Oregon gems with and without the schiller effect. The sunstones pictured here feature work by award-winning gem artsts, including: a 67.50ct triangular cut gem faceted by Darryl Alexander and Aivan Pham; a 32.20ct heart-shaped gem carved by Naomi Sarna; three “plush” cut gems faceted by Darryl Alexander that exhibit the color range of Oregon sunstones without schiller; and a snowflake gem cut by Darryl Alexander.


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