One of the first known references to the bright gem sunstone dates back to the early sixteenth century, in which Pope Clement VII was said to have worn a stone that possessed “a golden spot that moved in relation to the heavens.”
Sunstone ranges in color from pale yellow to red-orange. Tiny platelets of metallic mineral inside the gemstone give sunstone its trademark shimmer.
Today, sunstone is mined from deposits in the United States, Mexico, China, Namibia, and Madagascar.
SELECTING A STONE
Sunstone is versatile and durable enough to be set in rings, earrings and pendants. Fine sunstones, especially those originating from Oregon, take especially well to faceting. Lesser quality sunstones are often shaped in cabochons or made into beads.
With a hardness of 6–7, sunstone should be worn with some caution to prevent scratching. To clean sunstone at home, let the piece soak in a solution of warm water and a gentle dish detergent. Use a soft brush to clean the setting, and the stone’s luster will immediately return. Let dry on a soft cloth, and store away from other jewelry to prevent scratching. As with all fine jewelry, sunstone should be removed before sleeping.