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oregon sunstone guide
Hello miners, gem cutters, carvers, jewelers, artisans, please send us images of your best work (including high-quality rough) so it can be featured in this new prestigious section of OSG. With each entry please send a short description, and a few words about history of your business and the featured piece.
John Dyer & Co - Large 12.49ct bi-color cuprian Oregon Sunstone in outstanding quality and value!
This is one of the finest Oregon Sunstone that I have ever worked with. Purchased in early 2019 from Ales Krivanek and mined in the PANA Mine (now SUN SUMMIT Mine) in Oregon it has a very good large size, but what really sets it apart for me is the two strong colors and how vivid these colors are. The visual impact given by having two or more colors in the same gem is a cool property of many Oregon Sunstone, but often these colors are more muted. While muted colors have their own appeal and are often practical to combine with the colors of a person's wardrobe gem dealers and cutters such as myself always enjoy when a specific piece surprises and is different in color from most of the other material available.
Dalan Hargrave - 125 ct frog carved out of Oregon Sunstone
This 125 carat frog was carved out of Oregon Sunstone by Dalan Hargrave as part of a multi-stone "Frog Prince" entry that won a first place Cutting Edge award in the 218 AGTA Spectrum Awards. Dalan has been working with Oregon Sunstone for decades and his work is featured on this site.
Towards the end of the 2017 mining season, Ales Patrick Krivanek, former owner of PANA Mine (now SUN SUMMIT mine) contacted me about a very large and clean piece of Oregon Sunstone rough that weighed approx. 400 carats with great clarity and interesting shades of color.
Colorless, Gold, Straw & Champagne
(all standard hues)
Blue & Blue-Teal
Spinel Red & Cherry Red
All featured gems were mined by Ales Patrick Krivanek at PANA Mine, 2016-2018, and precision faceted by Ravenstein Gem Co (EU, USA), Douglas Mulling (USA), Craig Oliveira (USA), and Robert Coggins (USA). Images by © Katerina Krivanek. All rights reserved.
It is truly remarkable how kind, ambitous, and productive the small Oregon Sunstone mining community has been over the past few decades. Visit the mining page to learn about all the current options for wholesale and retail supplies as well is fee digging and child friendly treasure hunting options.
Jewelers that work with Oregon Sunstone are exceptionally talented, creative, and passionate artists. The various grades of Oregon Sunstone lend themselves to different, and equally important, sectors of the jewelry trade; from craft wire wraps, to haut couture red carpet pieces. We list some of the most well known and up in coming jewelers currently working with Oregon Sunstone on our Jewelers page.
Some of the most talented cutters and carvers in the EU and USA work with Oregon Sunstone. These masters of the trade take the lapidary arts to the next level with precision machinery and innovative designs. You can find many examples of their stunning work, as well as their contact information in our Cutter and Carvers section.
Oregon Sunstone is a copper bearing (cuprian) Labradorite of the Plagioclase-Feldspar mineral group. This gem consists of solution between anorthite (CaAl2Si2O8) and albite (NaAlSi3O8).
Most importantly, Oregon Sunstone is colored by copper therefore “cuprian” or “copper bearing”. For example rare Paraiba Tourmaline is colored by copper. Unlike its cheap counterparts Oregon Sunstone can exhibit much sought-after copper schiller.
Oregon Sunstone belongs to Labradorite-Feldspar group of minerals in triclinic crystal structure and biaxial-positive optical properties, while common Sunstone from other locations belongs to Oligoclase-Feldspar mineral species in monoclinic crystal structure and biaxial-negative optical properties.
Genuine Oregon Sunstone will also have a substantially higher refractive index in 1.560 to 1.585 range compared to their cheap Oligoclase counterparts in only 1.520 to 1.560 range.
A higher hardness of 6.5 to 7.2 also separates Oregon Sunstone from it’s common and inexpensive counterparts from India and elsewhere. Lastly, genuine Oregon Sunstone is found in a nearly limitless range and blends of colors, from light gold and champagne thru pink, peach and orange to red, green and blue, both with and without copper schiller. Common cheap Sunstone is NOT…
It's only a Feldspar is something any Oregon Sunstone enthusiast has heard all too often in discussions, both friendly and business alike. And until there is more education about this rare and extremely unique gemstone this is something that will continually have to be rebutted. Can you imagine via this perspective a Sapphire dealer constantly hearing, "But it's only a Corundum!"? Or a Siberian Demantoid dealer regularly being told, "But it's only a Garnet!"? Or an Emerald dealer hearing, "But it's only a piece of Beryllium ore!"?
As you can see using the above examples, a gemstone's uniqueness and value is not inextricably woven and detracted by the common mineral group it belongs to. Oregon Sunstone absolutely belongs in the upper echelon of it's mineral designation which just so happens to be Feldspar. Just as Sapphire's, Demantoid's, and Emerald's belong in the upper echelon of their designated mineral classifications.
Oregon Sunstone has two predominate factors that completely separate it into an entirely different class than its Feldspar relatives.
The potential of Oregon Sunstone is absolutely phenomenal within jewelry applications. From affordable to the red carpet. In fact Oregon Sunstone has already received more than its fair share of jewelry industry awards and accolades by designers and faceters alike.
And with it still being so relatively unknown and misunderstood in the market to the point that it still garners the, "But it's just a Feldspar!" moniker....we believe it is only a matter of time when this saying will no longer be said.
Just as no one says anything of the like in relation to Sapphires, Emeralds, and Demantoids.
Schiller is a light reflection effect caused by millions of microscopic copper particles/crystals suspended within the Oregon Sunstone gemstone. John Aldrich, owner of Double Eagle mine describes Schiller as a "phenomenon" which is, in my own opinion, a very true and spot-on description and definition of copper schiller. Many people describe copper schiller as an "inclusion". This is actually quite misleading in case of Oregon Sunstone. By definition, Inclusion is an unwanted and/or undesirable impurity in a gemstone. Inclusions and other imperfections like fractures, feathers, veils, and bubbles typically lower the value of a gemstone. In sharp contrary to that, schiller is an essential part of many Oregon Sunstone crystals and in most cases it actually adds value and beauty to the gemstone. To avoid or at least limit heated discussions we simply declare clarity of a Oregon Sunstone using the standard GIA diamond clarity scale. IF the Sunstone has schiller we simply declare gemstone clarity and then ADD the schiller type and it’s intensity (as described in this guide). For example: copper-bearing Oregon Sunstone, VVS1 with A (-1) copper schiller. VVS1 is a standard GIA clarity grade between IF and VVS2 and A (-1) is schiller grading developed by Ales Patrick Krivanek and featured in this guide. We hope that this new, logical and easy to master copper schiller grading will be adopted and used by others. We are open to suggestions on how to further improve or simplify Oregon Sunstone clarity and schiller grading. Please send your comments and suggestions to info@OregonSunstoneGuide.com
There are many types and intensities of copper schiller described in detail in this Guide.
The rule of thumb is that light to medium intensity schiller is more valuable compared to overly strong or weak types. Shiny schiller which reflect light strongly is preferred to it’s dimmer or “sleepy” types. Detailed comparison can be found in this Guide.
There are many variables affecting the value of this unique gemstone. The basic 4Cs (carat weight, clarity, color and quality of cut) are not sufficient in case of Oregon Sunstone. When it comes to color a simple answer that all vivid, richly saturated colors are very rare with red, green and blue (usually with a slight hint of green or teal) being the most valued. Type and intensity of schiller can add or rather reduce the gems value. In most cases the gem showing color are more valued without schiller compared to those with schiller. Detailed description can be found right in this Guide.
All commercial Oregon Sunstone mines produce extraordinary and highly valued gems. We urge you to do your own research and contact mine owners directly to find out which ones will fit your exact gemstone needs. It is the very purpose of this Guide to maximize and to simplify your research. Please visit the individual mine profiles in Mines & Miners.
Hardness of this gemstone varies between 6.5 and 7.0 Mohs. Hardness of Oregon Sunstone is similar to or larger than Amethyst, Tourmaline, Kunzite, Peridot, Tanzanite, Citrine, color change Diaspore, Opal, Garnet, Iolite, etc, therefore suitable for jewelry wear.
Oregon Sunstone is easy to set in precious metals like silver, gold and platinum. Being America’s rarest and most beautiful gemstone with unparalleled color varieties making each gem an original, and the fact that this gem is not found anywhere else in the world, Oregon Sunstone is becoming increasingly popular as a Diamond alternative in anniversary rings, bridal sets, and engagement rings. If you want a truly rare and original 100% American gemstone, the Oregon Sunstone is the answer!
Based on my own experience the yield ranges anywhere between 3% and 40%. It is safe to say that well shaped piece of rough without major clarity issues will give you around 25% to 30% yield. Strongly dichroic, pleochroic, watermelon or gems showing color banding will affect yield because of a very specific orientation required in order to achieve best results. In such cases the yield might drop down to 15% to 25%.
Cleavage usually gives no trouble when preforming, faceting and polishing this gemstone. Simply orient your gemstone for best color, schiller effect (if present) and yield.
No, it is absolutely not necessary (nor required or recommended) to remove clear material typically surrounding a colored core (bulls eye). For best results position the color in tip of the pavilion and/or keep below girdle line. This way you will retain much more weight and show the amazing “sunstone” effect when observing the gemstone from different angles because the colored core will nicely blend into the remaining clear material. Only if you want to achieve 100% color even saturation when observing from all sides and angles, remove all excessive clear material and leave only the colored portion in your preform.
Yes, absolutely! Some trade members are reluctant to say so or to even admit to this simple fact but there are dozens of great examples from recent history. Most gems earned a very solid 20% to 5,000%++ annually. Most natural untreated gems can be a great investment if you keep the following in mind:
Oregon Sunstone is still a very new gemstone on the international market and it’s value will increase substantially over the next decade. See Types & Colors for detailed information.
Most Oregon Sunstone is colored by copper (therefore “copper-bearing” or “cuprian”) similar to another rare and highly valued gemstone which is the Paraiba Tourmaline. Gems showing strong red to green / blue-teal dichroic or pleochroic shift and watermelon Oregon Sunstone is colored by nanocrystals of Protoenstatite and Clinoenstatite in association with copper. For more information about Protoenstatite click HERE.
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