Oregon Sunstone – The American Gemstone
By Loren Brown

Sunstone is a type of labradorite, a variety of the mineral Feldspar. It is found throughout the world in clear to yellowish colors that are of modest value. However, sunstone with varying amounts of copper in them, called cuprian labradorite sunstone, is found only in the high desert of Oregon. As a result, it is commonly referred to as Oregon Sunstone.

Depending on the amount of copper and other trace metals Oregon Sunstone may be found in a variety of colors. Reddish orange to ruby red stones have been known for a number of years and are a favorite of collectors. In 2011, at the Little Eagle Butte in Oregon, sunstone was found in a fantastic variety of colors, including beautiful greens to blueish green colors. Other stones that are dichroic red and green to teal are often found by our friends at PANA mine.

Oregon Sunstone has a hardness of 6.5 to 7.2, similar in hardness to tourmaline, tanzanite, and amethyst, and is durable for use in jewelry. Because the commercial jewelry market does not have this material, it is primarily seen in custom jewelry made by true artisans of the craft. Similarly, it is cut primarily by artisanal gemstone cutters, then sold to the designers and public alike.

Prices of Oregon Sunstone depend primarily on the color and clarity, and because it is often cut by gemstone designers (as opposed to commercial factory cutters) there can be variability based on the quality and design of the cut. Just as in most gems, size has a lot to do with the cost as large gems are very rare and highly sought after.

At this time (2018) the price of Oregon Sunstone is still on the rise, but considering it is less abundant than Tanzanite and is not heated or treated, always ethically sourced and mined, it is still a bargain. As word of this American gemstone gets around, the price is likely to increase as it has been since its discovery.

For much more information on Oregon Sunstone, please see the Oregon Sunstone Guide, set up by our friend, Ales Krivanek, owner of PANA mine. This site really has the best, most comprehensive information available anywhere and serves the mining, cutting, and jewelry designing communities as well as the public.

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