No, we're not talking about birthstones. In fact, our gem this month isn't on the birthstone list at all!
For July we're featuring a gem that doesn't get the spotlight as often as it deserves: sunstone!
We're not sure why sunstones don't get more media attention, but here are our top three reasons they're worthy of your focus:
- They are home grown here in the USA.
Although you can find sunstone elsewhere in the world, they are very commonly mined in Oregon, New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Oregon Sunstone is actually classified as copper-bearing plagioclase feldspar, which is found in no other place on earth.
Oregon Sunstones are growing in popularity and have some unique features that make them so desirable. This is important for us because Geralyn puts high importance on ethical sourcing and local materials. She loves to use sunstones from the Sunstone Butte Mine or Dust Devil Mine whenever possible, and ideally they’re locally faceted as well!
- They are biaxial and potentially trichroic.
There are several major factors a gemologist would note to describe color in gems. One of those is pleochroism, a variation of color with direction in doubly refractive gems. Sunstones are biaxial, which means they “possess three different vibration directions—alpha (α), beta (β), and gamma (γ)—and so may show three different colors (trichroism),” according to GIA.
Sunstone naturally occurs in yellow, red, green, or a mix of any of these colors. You might think this combination would be strange, but it truly is a gorgeous feat of nature. The display of these colors is really all about how the gemstone is cut.
A talented and experienced lapidary will know how to bring out the best of any gem, but it is especially important with those that have unique features like sunstone. One of our favorite gem cutters is John Dyer, who has faceted incredible AGTA award winning gems.
- All that glitters is gold? False!
Sunstone often has reflective inclusions that create a glittery effect called aventurescence. Known by some as schiller, aventurescence is a sparkly, metallic-looking luster caused by copper particles in Oregon Sunstone and hematite in sunstone from other areas of the world.
Similar to the way the trichroic color comes through, the appearance of schiller is all about the cut. Aventurescence does not occur in every sunstone, but when it does you need a talented lapidary to showcase that feature well. Even though all that glitters is not gold, we do think yellow gold is very complementary to the warm sparkle of sunstone.
Want to learn more about other gems and gemology in general? Check out our Gemology page!