What Are Oregon Sunstones?
Sunstones are feldspar crystals that formed in lava. Thirteen to fourteen million years ago, a volcano in the Steens Mountains erupted, pouring out massive amounts
of lava. The lava flow was eventually completely covered by a enormous lake. This lava remained underwater for many thousands of years. But as the lake began to slowly dry up, the ancient lava flow was once again exposed. Over time the weather and other natural elements began to slowly erode away at the lava. What was left were beautiful gemstones that we know as Oregon Sunstones.
Feldspars can be found all over the world, but they are rarely gem grade. Central Oregon is one of the few places in the world where this particular type of feldspar can be found in gem grade and large enough to cut stones for jewelry.
Sunstone Mines In Oregon Open To The Public
1. Double Eagle Mine
“Double Eagle Mining is a mining company of the worlds rarest known gemstone, Oregon Copper Bearing Sunstone.”
Double Eagle Mine is a privately owned environmentally conscious mining operation which was founded in 2004.
It is located in the high desert of southcentral Oregon, just northwest of the town of Plush, Oregon. The Double Eagle mine is one of a small group of fulltime Oregon sunstone mining companies located near Plush.
The mine is open to the public and 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 affordable rates. Visitors can also buy these rare gemstones directly from the miners through their store.
Fee: $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) You can also purchase for $180 one yard of 3 inch minus production ore.
2. Spectrum Sunstone Mine – High Desert Gems and Minerals
The spectrum Sunstone Mine, located in the same area near Plush, OR, is one of the states most renown digging sites for Oregon sunstones that is open to the public.
Visitors to the Spectrum Mine can dig for Oregon sunstone gems from a designated pile of fresh unprocessed ore for free all day and keep what they find.
For the ultimate sunstone mining experience, visitors can pick off the commercial screen plant conveyor belt while the crew helps pick the gems. Visitors get to keep everything that shows up! (for a fee)
Other options for sunstone mining at the Spectrum Sunstone Mine is to screen through concentrated high-grade sunstone bearing ore piles and also use digging tools to break through the basalt lava rock in one of the high-grade red and green sunstone pits.
Fee: Free for one day of screening ore piles. $50 for additional days. Commercial conveyer belt screening is $200 per hour. Screening through concentrated high-grade sunstone bearing ore piles $150 or $200 per pile. Breaking through basalt lava rock in the red and green sunstone pits is $100-$200 per person.
3. Dust Devil Mining Company
“Prospect top-quality American gemstones in a fun, family-friendly atmosphere.”
The Dust Devil Mining Company is conveniently located in the middle of the Oregon sunstone deposits near Plush, Oregon which is in the South central part of the state and approximately 2.5 hours East of Klamath Falls.
Visitors to the Dust Devil Mining Company sunstone mine have a rare opportunity not found in many of the other sunstone mines open to the public. At this sunstone mine, visitors are given the chance to prospect on 100% virgin ground that has been recently opened by heavy equipment. At the Dust Devil Mining Complany sunstone mine, the public is not limited to just digging through tailings or material that has already been high-graded.
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.
Fee: There is no fee for digging. You will be charged 50% of the wholesale value of better colored stones and clear stones that will cut over 8 carats. We deduct for any unusable portions of stones. Because we do not charge for clear unless it will cut over 8 carats or for very light schiller, most people will take many nice stones for FREE.
4. Oregon Sunstone Public Collection Area
The Oregon Sunstone Public Collection Area allows visitors to enjoy collecting these rare and beautiful gems in their natural setting. Located in the remote Rabbit Basin, the Oregon Sunstone Public Collection Area is in the high desert habitat of sagebrush and open spaces of south-central Oregon.
As you walk within the Oregon Sunstone Public Collection Area, keep your eyes to the ground and look for the opaque yellowish stones, picking them out of the soil and rocks. Sunstones can be red or green, but pale yellow is the most common color. Hand tools such as shovels and picks may be used for digging, but please fill in any holes you create. Mechanized equipment for digging is strictly prohibited.
For more information, check out the BLM Sunstone Public Collection Area webpage where you can find directions on how to get there and much more.