Where to Find Sunstone in Oregon?

Hold a nugget of Oregon sunstone in your palm, and you will understand why the 1987 Oregon legislature designated it as the official state gemstone.  Sunstone is a variety of a mineral called oligoclase.  Uncommon in its composition, clarity, and colors, it is a large, brightly colored transparent gem in the feldspar family.  Inclusions of hematite and copper give the mineral a golden shimmer.  In Oregon, sunstone occurs in the south, central portion of the state near the California border.

Some Oregon sunstones exhibit a glow from within due to millions of microscopic copper platelets, known as schiller. Colors of the stone vary from clear, champagne, yellow, light pink, salmon, orange, and red to blue-green. Intense red and blue-green are the colors that are most rare. Sometimes, when viewed from different angles, as many as three colors will show within one stone. Sunstone is 6.5-7.2 on the Moh's hardness scale, which means it can be polished, faceted, and carved and made into jewelry.

Sunstone is mined from shallow pits in Lake and Harney counties, where it formed in lava flows millions of years ago. Native Americans valued sunstone nuggets, trading them across western America and using them in Medicine Wheel ceremonies. Sunstone has been found in burial sites and sacred bundles.

Where to Find Sunstone in Oregon?
Natural Sunstones from Oregon

What Causes The Color In Oregon Sunstone?

Sunstone occurs in a range of colors that begin with colorless and ranges through to yellow, orange and red. The color is determined by the abundance and size of the copper platelets within the gemstone. The copper platelets impart a green, pink or reddish color to the stone. Some exceptional stones can show more than one color. It can start off pink and on the other side of the stone be bolder and strengthen in color which could be orange. 

Sunstone is an amazing specimen. It is translucent to transparent Feldspar that produces bright metallic flashes when light interacts with tiny plate-like mineral inclusions within the stone. When light enters the stone it reflects a flash of light in the eye of the observer who views the gemstone at the correct angle. This is also known as aventurescence.

Pink can either be the stone base color or be produced by a haze of schiller. The orange color shades go from orange-yellow to orange-red which is described as copper or copper red. Another color is ‘root beer’ which is the deep reddish brown, slightly orange to almost pure red to even slightly blue

Sunstone Mines in Oregon

Public Gold & Gemstone Mines in Oregon

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)

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.
Spectrum MINE:
Latitude: N 42 43.941
Longitude: W 119 52.007

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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