Oregon Sunstone: Where to Find Sunstone

Sunstone is a type of feldspar mineral known for its unique and attractive appearance. It is typically found in shades of red, orange, or brown, and it may exhibit a phenomenon called aventurescence. 

Aventurescence is the optical reflectance phenomenon that causes the stone to exhibit a sparkling or shimmering effect, often likened to the appearance of sunlight reflecting off water.

Oregon sunstone is a beautiful gemstone that is prized for its unique color and brilliance. It is a variety of the mineral oligoclase, and it is uncommon in its composition, clarity, and colors. Oregon sunstone is a large, brightly colored transparent gem, and its golden shimmer is caused by inclusions of hematite and copper.

Oregon sunstone is found in the south-central portion of Oregon, near the California border. It is mined from shallow pits in Lake and Harney counties, where it formed in lava flows millions of years ago.

Native Americans valued Oregon sunstone nuggets, trading them across western America and using them in Medicine Wheel ceremonies. Sunstone has been found in burial sites and sacred bundles.

In 1987, the Oregon legislature designated Oregon sunstone as the official state gemstone. This is a fitting honor for this beautiful and unique gemstone.

photo of a sunstone gemstone from Oregon, showing its unique color and brilliance.
Natural Sunstones from Oregon

What Causes The Color In Sunstone

The color in Oregon sunstone is caused by the presence of copper impurities. When volcanic ash and lava cool and solidify, the copper impurities form tiny platelets, or flakes, within the gemstone. These platelets reflect light in different ways, depending on their size and orientation. This is what gives sunstone its unique color and brilliance.

The more copper platelets that are present in a sunstone, and the larger they are, the more intense the color will be. Sunstones that are red or blue-green are the rarest because they require a very specific combination of size and orientation of the copper platelets.

In addition to copper, other minerals can also contribute to the color of Oregon sunstone. For example, iron impurities can give sunstone a yellow or orange color. And chromium impurities can give sunstone a green color.

The combination of copper and other minerals, as well as the size and orientation of the copper platelets, is what gives Oregon sunstone its wide range of colors.

Sunstone is 6.5-7.2 on the Moh's hardness scale, making it hard enough to be polished, faceted, carved, and made into jewelry.

Where to Find Sunstone in Oregon

map of Oregon Sunstone popular pay-to-dig mines

There are also a number of pay-to-dig mines in the Plush Basin. These mines offer a variety of amenities, such as guided tours, tools, and food and drinks. Some of the most popular pay-to-dig mines include:

Dust Devil Mining Company

The Dust Devil Mining Company is located in the heart of Oregon sunstone deposits near Plush, Oregon. Visitors to the mine have a rare opportunity to prospect on virgin ground freshly opened by heavy equipment. You are not limited to digging tailings.

The mine is not only accessible from many routes but also family-friendly. The digging fee is very affordable while visitors can stay in nearby motels at fair prices. Tent-camping is also available.

Address: BLM 6155, Plush, OR 97637

Double Eagle Mine

The Double Eagle Mine is located in the high desert of southcentral Oregon, just northwest of the town of Plush, Oregon. The mine is among a small group of fulltime mining companies located near Plush.

Visitors have the opportunity to search for rare Oregon sunstones. Those that cannot dry-camp at the site can be accommodated by nearby motels and RV resorts at low and affordable rates. Visitors can also buy these rare gemstones directly from the miners. fees are $60 per person for you to lease access to a virgin ore pile for one day of shovel and screening for Oregon Sunstone crystals. (Children under 12 years old are Free)

 GPS: 42.42.758N   119.49.248W

Spectrum Sunshine Mines

One of Oregon’s premier gemstone mining sites is the Spectrum Sunshine Mine, which is open for gemstone enthusiasts’ mining expeditions. You can visit the site and search through fresh and unprocessed material for the whole day. Additionally, they have high grade conveyer belts to ease your process of picking out gemstones from the material of high grade condensed piles of ore, ensuring that you have a chance to find the best gems on this mine.

Address: Plush, OR 97637, United States 


Natural Sunstone


Sunstone Aventurescence

See also

Where to Find Opals in Oregon?
6 Places Where Can You Go to Dig for Gemstones in California
North Carolina: Places Where Can You Go to Dig for Gemstones in NC
Texas & New Mexico: Places Where Can You Go to Dig for Gemstones

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