The Coolest Gemstone You've Never Heard Of: Rainbow Lattice Sunstone

Rainbow lattice sunstone is truly a gem like no other! Discovered in 1985 and officially declared a new gemstone type by the GIA in 1989, this extremely rare stone has only been found in one place in the entire world and is unlike any others seen before. The combination of organic matter, color, and shimmer give this stone an explosive appearance that is truly remarkable! The "Iris" rainbow lattice sunstone below, available in the Staghead Mine, is unique to a remote part of Australia called the Mud Tank Zircon Field.

Rainbow lattice sunstone is a member of the feldspar family, which also includes moonstone, sunstone, labradorite, and more. Rainbow lattice sunstone is unique in that not only is it a combination of moonstone and sunstone, but also an entirely new variety in this family of stones. Moonstone is a type of feldspar that displays beautiful flash, or "adularescence." This adularescence can be seen in the moonstone that is set in our "Lucy In The Sky Petite" design engagement ring below:

14K rose gold "Lucy In The Sky" Petite engagement ring with a round rainbow moonstone center, diamond halo & accents, & diamond dust inlays

Sunstone is another feldspar and closely related to moonstone, but contains orange hematite inclusions that create a glittery-effect commonly referred to as schiller and aventurescence. These inclusions are often hexagon-shaped and appear as confetti throughout the stone. Sunstone typically has a more warm-tone appearance but can also appear green and/or a combination of orange and green. The sunstone below features beautiful schiller and warm autumn tones.

"Elia" Sunstone Staghead Designs Staghead Mine

When moonstone and sunstone are present in the same stone, this is sometimes called "eclipsite." What differentiates rainbow lattice sunstone from these other feldspar family members is the "lattice" pattern of inclusions within the stone. The lattice is comprised of thin sections of magnetite that run parallel to each other between the layers of feldspar. The magnetite can appear as either lines/streaks or as equilateral triangles within the stone. Magnetite typically appears metallic black, but oxidization and other geological processes cause the mineral to gain a rainbow shimmer or iridescence, hence the name "rainbow lattice sunstone." The geometric shapes combined with aventurescence and iridescence within this incredible stone create a truly rare phenomena that is not seen within any other stone. What can appear as black lines in the stone in certain lighting quickly turn into an explosion of color as the stone is shifted in the light. 

 Rainbow Lattice Sunstone Faceted Stone

Rainbow lattice sunstone is ethically sourced by only one company - Asterism Gems Australia. This small Australian mining company was founded in 2015 and focuses on minimizing mining impact on the local environment as well as supporting the local Eastern Arrernte People who live on the lands on and around the Rainbow Caterpillar Mine in the MacDonnell Ranges near Alice Springs, Australia. The company's goal is to leave mined areas in better condition than they were found, even if this means fixing damage caused by illegal pirate mining. In order to do this, rainbow lattice sunstone is only mined using hand tools. Any excess soil that is displaced during the mining process is returned once digging is complete in order to remove any trace of the mine. As feldspar is mined, it is sorted in the sunshine in order to separate any rainbow lattice sunstone from other feldspar types. Pieces that are small or cracked are tumbled, while the very uncommon large pieces are set aside to be faceted or cut into cabochons for jewelry. Again, any waste or leftovers from mining are returned in order to leave minimal to no trace at mining sits. Asterism Gems cares deeply about Australian land and the well-being of wildlife and future generations, and rainbow lattice sunstone is an excellent option for those looking for an ethical and sustainable gemstone option!

Feldspar varieties typically rank around six on the Moh's Scale, meaning it is a softer stone that requires special care in order to avoid damage. We recommend removing your ring for all manual labor (including sports, going to the gym, gripping items with force such as bicycle handlebars, luggage, etc.) and while doing household chores including washing dishes, laundry, and cleaning. Avoid contact with chemicals (such as chlorine and household bleach), extreme temperatures, perfumes, cosmetics, and other substances which may cause damage to your one-of-a-kind ring. For more information on our Care Guidelines, click here

Each piece of rainbow lattice sunstone will be completely unique - there are never-ending arrangements of lattice and schiller within these stones. Some may contain triangular inclusions, while others do not. Some may contain thick lattice, while others only contain thin layers of lattice. The amount of schiller can also differ. Stones are selected randomly, and while we do our best to accommodate requests, please understand that rainbow lattice sunstone is a natural material and we cannot choose or alter the appearance. 

Variety within rainbow lattice sunstone

The team here at Staghead Designs were lucky enough to meet the owners of the rainbow lattice sunstone mines while at the Tuscon Gem Show in January 2022. There, we were able to create a relationship with this small company and learn a lot about these magnificent stones. We are incredibly excited to be one of the only jewelers offering this unique and rare gemstone option, and to support another small business!

Browse our collections of custom engagement ring designs here or start from scratch and work with our designers to create your own personalized design that incorporates rainbow lattice sunstone. Any custom ring containing rainbow lattice sunstone is sure to be a show-stopper and conversation piece!