Sunstone is part of the plagioclase feldspar family. Feldspars, including sunstone, share two traits that affect their durability and make them vulnerable to damage. These are softness—at 6.5 to 7.2 on the Mohs scale—and cleavage in two directions, which gives sunstone a Poor toughness rating.
When sunstone is mounted in a setting that protects it, however, it’s an excellent choice for jewelry. Protective settings include pendants, earrings, and pins rather than rings, which are more likely to receive knocks and bumps.
A variety known as Oregon sunstone is found in Harney County, Oregon and in eastern Lake County north of Plush. Oregon sunstone can be found at up to 3 inches wide and contains inclusions of copper crystals. The copper leads to variant color within some stones.
Care and Cleaning
Warm, soapy water is always a safe sunstone cleaning method. Ultrasonic and steam cleaners should be avoided. Feldspars are rapidly attacked by hydrochloric acid, so cleaning products containing bleach should also be avoided.