This writing will provide detail information about all you need to know about Oregon Sunstone, where to find it in Oregon
Sunstones are known to be feldspars crystals that were formed in lava for a few hundred years, at least. It is known as feldspar gemstone and commonly as “aventurescent feldspar.” Sunstone is usually cut into beads, cabochons, small sculptures, and faceted stones.
Since having possession of mineral Hematite, or sometimes Pyrite or Goethite, or rarely Copper, sunstone usually has a reddish or orange color with a glittery appearance, hence its name.
When a volcano in Steens Mountain erupted about thirteen to fourteen million years ago, it poured out a vast amount of lava into a huge lake and remained underwater millions of years. The lake dried up gradually, and the exposure to weather over the year caused the lava to decompose, thus revealing the sunstone.
Sunstone is not so popularly seen in jewelry stores in most parts of the world. Sunstones deposits were mined in the early 1800s near the largest and deepest lake in the world, Lake Baikal in Russia. And sunstones deposits were drilled in the late 1800s in northern Norway. Nowadays, some stones are still produced in these areas.
Apart from those places, it is said that aventurescent feldspar is also available in other localities such as Canada, Australia, India, Norway, Congo, Mexico, China, Srilanka, Tanzania, and the U.S.
Sunstone is considered to be related to luck and wealth. As its name, sunstone provides energy to all the chakras and allows itself to shine happily. It enhances vitality and reduces stress for any person who wears it.
Thus, sunstone helps people achieve power, stability, gain confidence, and fight for their interests. It also allows people who are struggling with mental problems such as depression and overcome the phobia.
- Sunstone is mined from shallow pits in Lake and Harney counties, where it formed millions of years ago in lava flows1.
Tiffany and Company purchased mining in Plush, Oregon, in the early 1900s, and developed the first commercial mine manufacturing sunstone jewelry2.
Sunstone resources capable of commercial mining were identified in Oregon, United States, in the early 1980s2.
- Sunstone nuggets were highly treasured by Native Americans, who traded them across Western America and used them in Medicine Wheel ceremonies. Sunstone has been discovered in burial grounds and sacred bundles1.
What is the history of Oregon Sunstones?
In the early 1900s, Tiffany and Company acquired mining in Plush, Oregon, and opened the first commercial mine producing sunstone jewelry.
In the early 1980s, sunstone deposits were discovered in Oregon in the United States to be capable of commercial mining settings. Thus to celebrate this, the Oregon sunstone was declared by the Oregon legislature to be an official state gemstone in 1987.
Though sunstones can be found in New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, Oregon is still the most famous sunstone deposit in the United States. Oregon sunstone is such a popular gemstone that many people visiting Oregon will go home with a piece of Oregon sunstone jewelry.
If you’re interested in learning more about the geology of the Pacific Northwest and the volcanic history that has created Oregon sunstones, check out this article on Geology of the Pacific Northwest. It’s a fascinating look at the region’s past and how the land has shaped some of its most unique features, including these beautiful gemstones.
What is Oregon sunstone made for?
Oregon sunstone has the hardness of 6 based on the Mods Hardness Scale, known as a necessary test to compare a mineral’s resistance being scratched by ten reference minerals. And for your reference, diamond has the hardness of 10 based on this scale.
With the hardness level of 6, Oregon sunstone is most suitable for jewelry that is not exposed to rough wear such as earrings, small pendants, brooches, and many jewelry items of which stone will be protected from impact.
Oregon sunstone image at the Sunstone Store
How much is Oregon sunstone worth?
The value of Oregon sunstone depends on various factors such as rarity, effect, color, market demands, industry trends, grade, supply, and so on. The value of sunstone is not high because the buyers don’t know it very clearly. However, dealers of gemstone who usually try to educate their buyers see a rise in sunstone’s value.
Light yellow to colorless Oregon sunstone usually range from a few dollars to $20 per carat for calibrated or native cut stones. Depending on the effect, other colors such as tans and pinks usually range above $50 per carat.
If you are curious about the value of sunstone, check out this resource on Oregon thundereggs value. Thundereggs and sunstones likely have similar pricing since they are both unique gemstones found in Oregon’s high desert. This guide will provide insights into the physical appearance and factors that influence the value of Oregon’s stunning thundereggs.
How much is Oregon sunstone fee mining?
You don’t have to pay a fee for collecting sunstone at Oregon Public Sunstone Collection Area, but you have to pay fee mining at privately-owned mine claims. It depends on the sites that collectors have to pay different amounts of fee for sunstone collection.
Where is the largest Oregon sunstone deposit?
Currently, the volcanic area of Ponderosa mine is having the largest volume of Oregon sunstone. The mine, located at 5,750 feet above sea level, is now owned by Desert Sun Mining. It is surrounded by flat meadows and hills covered by ponderosa pines.
If you’re interested in exploring other precious rocks and minerals in Oregon, consider checking out our guide to Opal Rocks. Opals are known for their stunning play of color and iridescence, and can even be found in Oregon. Learn more about the different types of opals, their history, and their value by checking out our guide.
Where to find Oregon sunstone?
There are a few deposits of sunstone large enough to operate mining systems. Typically some sunstones are found in several basalts flows like in Harney County and Lake County. You can look for one area as a public sunstone collecting area allowed for everyone to enter and search for sunstone in Lake County.
Later, you can keep what you find for personal use at this public site with detailed information as below.
Just a slight reminder that you need to follow the collecting rule of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and stay away from the nearby land where mining claims were registered except for the case that you get the permission from the owner.
Visit Sunstone Collection Area for more information.
What should I bring to dig for sunstone?
It’s highly recommended to bring a shovel, leather gloves, buckets, hammers, screwdrivers, and bags if they do not provide it. Mechanized equipment is seriously prohibited in the Oregon Public Sunstone Collection Area.
Can you name some of Oregon sunstone mines?
To search for Oregon sunstone, you can go to either the Oregon Public Sunstone Collection area for free digging or pay-for-digging sites for collecting sunstone.
Apart from Public Sunstone Collection Area, there are privately owned mining claims, namely Spectrum Sunstone Mine and Double Eagle Mining, listed below as fee digging sites for your information.
Looking to explore the beauty of Oregon sunstone? Check out our guide to gold panning in Oregon, as some mines carry both gold and sunstone. With its stunning natural scenery, Oregon is the perfect place to indulge in a bit of geology and mining.
Oregon Public Sunstone Collection Area
Address: Lakeview District Office, 1301 South G Street, Lakeview, OR 97630
*Location: Oregon Public Sunstone Collection Area is located in the remote area Rabbit Basin. The site is in the high desert sagebrush habitat at the open spaces of Oregon’s south-central area. Here collectors can enjoy collecting beautiful sunstone in its natural setting.
*How to get there:
If you are from Plush, you need to take County Road 3-10 (as the Hogback Road) north and keep going for about 10 miles ( after 4 miles, there will be a gravel road ). Turn right onto Country Road 3-11 and keep driving about ½ mile to turn left onto BLM Road 6155. Keep moving on 6155 road for about 8 ¼ miles to turn left onto BLM Road 6115 and continue going for about 5 miles. Then you can turn right onto road 6195 and see the Sunstone Collection Area entrance sign.
If you are a traveler from the South on Highway 395, you need to turn left toward the east side onto Country Road 3-10 (as the Hogback Road). Keep going on the Hogback Road for 20.2 miles until you can see County Road 3-11 to turn left. Keep driving about ½ mile and turn left onto BLM Road 6155, then keep moving on the 6155 road for about 8 ¼ miles to turn left onto BLM Road 6115 and continue going for about 5 miles. There you can turn right onto BLM Road 6195 and see the Sunstone Collection Area entrance sign.
What is interesting about the Oregon Public Sunstone Collection Area?
You can look for the yellowish stone when walking along with the Oregon Public Sunstone Collection Area. Just keep your eyes looking on the ground to find them among rocks and soils. Sunstone here can be green or red, but most commonly are pale yellow.
What do I need to bring for searching for sunstone here?
You can bring hand tools such as picks and shovels for digging and remember to fill any holes you dig. It is seriously prohibited to use mechanized equipment for searching in the Oregon Sunstone Public Collection Area.
What else do I need to pay attention to while searching for sunstone in the Oregon Public Sunstone Collection Area?
The roads of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are challenging to go through in wet weather conditions, even with a four-wheel vehicle. So you need to contact BLM Lakeview District Office if you are planning a trip from November to May for obtaining weather information and road conditions.
Direction to Oregon Public Sunstone Collection Area
Contact information: Bureau of Land Management of Lakeview District
Phone: (541) 947-2177
Spectrum Sunstone Mine
Spectrum Sunstone Mine is once owned by Tiffany & Co. as one of the first commercially operated sunstone mines in Oregon and is currently privately owned by Chris Rose. The mine is one of the sunstone deposits having the richest color of sunstone in the world.
* Location: Spectrum Mine is located 27 miles at Plush’s northeast side in Lake County, Oregon. This site is open to the public for mining sunstone in Oregon. Here you can dig for free sunstone gems from unprocessed ore and keep the sunstone if you find it.
*How to get there: While driving, please bear in mind to not turn until you reach the next sign.
If you drive from the South on Highway 395, you will follow Highway 395 toward the north through Lakeview, OR, and then head east on Highway 140 towards Adel. After
mile marker 15, turn left when you see the “Plush Cut-off” sign.
Keep driving on Hogback Rd. Co. Rd. 3-10 at 3.6 miles toward the east side. At 5.2 miles, when the pavement ends, continuing driving on the dirt road.
At 10.1 miles, turn right toward the east onto Co. Rd. 3-11. Go 1/2 mile, and when you reach 10.7miles on the odometer, turn left toward the north. At 19.2 miles, turn left when you see the “Sunstone Area 5 miles” sign.
After the cattle guard, go for 24.1 miles and turn right on the road after passing the sign of Dust Devil, you will be heading toward the Oregon Public Sunstone Collection Area. Then take the first left or the second left before Public Collection Area board and keep going on the road, you will see the office (not over the sagebrush)
If you are driving from Bend, Oregon from the North, you need to take highway 20 toward Riley’s east. Then take Highway 395 toward the South. Next, you turn left toward the east of Hogback Rd near mile marker 64.
You will follow Hogback Rd. until the turn for Co. Rd. 3-11 and then continue about 19 miles to turn left. Continue with directions above from Co. Rd. 3-11 to reach Spectrum Sunstone Mine.
Driving Direction to Spectrum Mine
*Fee: 50$ per person for additional days. Kids under 12 years of age are free to enter with paying adults.
*What do you need to prepare for digging sunstone: Please bring a shovel, tactical pants, gloves, hammers, screwdrivers, bags to carry sunstone, a bucket.
*What is interesting about Spectrum Mine:
You may choose between High-Grade Conveyor Belt Run, High-Grade Condensed Commercial Ore Piles, or High-Grade Pit Digging with different mining experience. Prices per each type of mining are different.
High-Grade Conveyor Belt Run with a price of $200 per hour running the plant of 6 tons of processed ore. Meanwhile, screening High-Grade Condensed Commercial Ore Piles with a cost of $150 or $200 per pile for families and groups.
Screening through High-Grade Pit Digging bears the price of $100-$200 per person for digging high-grade green and red sunstone pits.
Additionally, cabin accommodation and tipi accommodation with flushing toilets and hot showers are available with a price of $45 and $40 per night. R.V. parks and tent camping are for free. No reservation is required for digging.
Picking stones off the conveyor belts at Spectrum Mine
What are the ways to collect sunstone at Spectrum Sunstone Mine?
There are some options to search for sunstone that you might take for reference. You can find sunstone by conveyor belt at the mining sites, or dig randomly on the site or the digging pit. Alternatively, you can conduct table screening on unprocessed ore.
Lastly, you can even conduct table screening on processed ore where sunstone might be available.
Operation Hours: Spectrum Mine Public Collection Area is open daily from 9 am – 5 pm during May 15th – November 1st.
Contact: Chris at 775-772-7724
P.O. Box 38, Plush, OR 97637
Double Eagle Mining
*Location: Double Eagle Mining is located in the high desert in Plush, Oregon. Debbie and John Aldrich privately own the site and now open to the public. You can find copper-bearing sunstone, which is the rarest gemstone compared to what you can find in other localities.
*How to get there: Take Highway 395 North to the Highway 140 East junction, go for about 6 miles, then turn right onto Highway 140. Next, you will drive about 15 miles to Plush Cutoff Road. Continue going on your left just after the signs of Blue Creek and Hart Mountain Refuge ½ mile.
Keep driving for 18 miles into Plush in Oregon onto Hogback Road to Road 311. Keep going for about 7 miles; there will be a 3-way intersection on your right. Then you will turn right on Road 311 and go for about ¼ mile; you will see a sign “Sunstone Area on your right that says Sunstone Area.
From that point, you will turn left onto Road 6155. Keep going for about 7.8 miles until a 3-way intersection to turn left onto Road 6115. Keep going about 3.75 miles and look for the Double Eagle sign.
Turn right at the sign and follow this road for 8/10 mile; you will see another sign on your left with a trailer and American flag on the knoll. From here, you will turn left at the sign and keep going on the road up to the camp.
*Fee: $60 per person for digging a virgin ore pile by shovel and screening for Oregon sunstone.Children of 12 years of age and younger are free to enter. Besides, you can also buy for $180 per yard of 3 inches minus ore of production with no time limitation for a group of 4 people or one family as maximum.
* What do you need to prepare for digging sunstone:Bring your gloves since the mining site will not provide gloves. Other tools can be provided at the site, but you are welcome to bring yours too.
Also, bring food and a lot of water to stay hydrated in the high desert and whatever you think you need to camp if necessary because the nearest store is over 20 miles away.
*What is interesting about Double Eagle: You can search for Oregon Copper bearing sunstone, known as the rarest gemstone compared to the sunstone of other localities.
Contact: Phone: (541) 417-0158
email: [email protected]
Driving direction to Double Eagle Mining if you are coming from Lake View
In a nutshell, if you are a person who is interested in outdoor gemstone collection, Oregon Sunstone is among the rarest gemstones over the world to collect.
You can go for collecting and digging either in Oregon Public Sunstone Collection Area or privately owned mining claims, which are listed in this writing hopefully useful for your reference. Besides that, is it also great outdoor activities for family and friends with a reward of a cool gemstone?
Frequently asked questions
Is Oregon sunstone rare?
Sunstone in Oregon is exceptionally rare in which they have a Shiller effect because of its composition of copper, while sunstone in other locations usually composes of Hematite. Also, Oregon sunstone is unique because of quite-large crystals.
How hard is Oregon sunstone?
Oregon sunstone has the hardness of 6 based on the Mods Hardness Scale, known as an essential test to compare a mineral’s resistance being scratched by ten reference minerals. Diamond has the hardness of 10 based on this scale for your information.
What do I usually need to bring to dig for sunstones in Oregon?
Please bring a shovel, hammers, screwdrivers, bags to carry sunstone, a bucket, and screens depending on whether the mine is a public collection area or privately owned mining claims.
What is sunstone useful for?
Sunstone is considered to be related to luck and wealth. As its name, sunstone provides energy to all the chakras and allows itself to shine happily. It enhances vitality and reduces stress for any person who wears it. Thus, sunstone helps people achieve power, stability, gain confidence, and fight for their interests. It also allows people who are struggling with mental problems such as depression and overcome the phobia.
Can I bring my family, including my kids, to sunstone mines?
It is an excellent way for families to spend the day outdoors together, especially the kids, to learn how the collectors get rough sunstone.
Is it okay to bring kids to sunstone mines?
There are some mines which are child-friendly. However, some are not child-friendly. Please check the information before you go.
Should I search by myself for other mines which are not recommended on the websites?
We would not recommend searching by yourself other mines because professional miners and geology have already found the best sites to collect sunstone. You might be in danger or illegal trespassing if you walk to a desert area randomly, so make sure you have information in hand before going. You will surely save money and time based on their knowledge and expertise.
What else should I know before going digging in the public collection area?
Since there are many privately owned mining claims surrounding public collection areas that you are not allowed to dig without permission, you need to take time to know where you are before collecting the sunstone. There will be legal penalties applied when you order sunstone at privately owned mining claims without the owner’s permission.
Can I camp in the Oregon public sunstone collection area?
Yes, you can camp anywhere in the public sunstone collection area.
Is there any fee applied in collecting sunstone in the public sunstone collection area?
There is no fee for sunstone collection, but you are advised not to collect sunstone for commercial or trade purposes here.
What exactly is Sunstone in Oregon?
Sunstone is a one-of-a-kind gemstone found only in Southeastern Oregon. It contains copper, which produces metallic flashes, and it is available in a variety of colors, including clear, champagne, yellow, light pink, salmon, orange, red, and blue-green.
Where in Oregon can I find Sunstone?
Sunstone can be found in a number of Oregon places, including the Spectrum Mine in Lake County and the Rabbit Basin Public Collecting Area in Warner Valley. These locations are open to the public for sunstone mining and gem collecting
What exactly is the Spectrum Mine?
A sunstone mine in Lake County, Oregon is known as the Spectrum Mine. It is open to the public for sunstone mining and gem collecting. Visitors can dig for raw ore for free sunstone jewels and retain the sunstone if they discover it.
What should I carry with me to Oregon if I want to collect Sunstone?
If you intend to collect Sunstone in Oregon, pack gloves, a hat, sunscreen, water, and sturdy shoes or boots. You should also bring digging equipment as well as a bucket or sack to gather your treasures.
Are there any rules on gathering Sunstone in Oregon?
Yes. While sunstone is available for public collection in some regions, there may be limits on the amount you may gather or the techniques you can use to obtain it. Before gathering sunstone, check with local authorities or the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
For more recreational activities, you can check out this information: https://www.blm.gov/or/resources/recreation/files/brochures/sunstone_rec_brochure.pdf