Polished Labradorite

by admin on July 3, 2004

Polished Labradorite

Polished Labradorite

Treasure Hunting for Sunstones

What are sunstones and where can I find them?

Sunstones are formed in molten lava and found in volcanic vents that have erupted from volcanoes.  When the lava rock is weathered away or broken up the sunstone crystals are exposed.  Sunstone is a transparent, yellowish labradorite found as crystals in these volcanic rocks.  Crystals can come in clear, pale yellow, soft pink, blood red, deep blue and green coloration.  Some sunstone crystals will have bands of different colors throughout.  This color variation is caused by varying amounts of tiny crystals of copper.  The more colorful or darker stones contain larger amounts of copper.

Rough Sunstone

They are found all over the world but the gem quality stones that are large enough to cut for jewelry are normally found in Oregon.  Crystals as large as 3 inches across have been found but normally range from 1/8 to 1 inch long.  Oregon is also the only place in the world that this gem grade material is found with copper in it and in 1987 it was declared the official State Gemstone of Oregon.

Cash And Treasures Sunstone

Rough sunstones will range from about $400.00 to $500.00 a carat and for a good cut and polished one can sell for over $1,000.00 a carat depending on the size, color, clarity, and cut.  In 2006 the travel channel aired a show about the  Spectrum Sunstone Mines from the Cash and Treasures series.  One of the sunstones found during filming, after it was cut and polished, was over 10 carats and was sold to a couple in Oregon for $5,200.

Oregon sunstones are found only in the remote high desert of Lake and Harney counties of Oregon.  The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has established a free, public collecting area in eastern Lake County which is near Plush Oregon.  Until recently, this was the only known occurrence of the gem quality sunstones found in the United States.

Rough Sunstone

The geology of Harney and Lake county is favorable for the discovery of more deposits of these fine gem stones and recently several more mining claims have been established in the northern and southeastern area of Harney county.  These producing areas are not available for public collecting without permission of the claim owners.

Sunstone Knoll south west of town of Delta, Oregon is open to the public and is free.  The best time to search for sunstones is just after rain storm.  Sunstones will glitter in the sunlight and can be found on the ground on the east side of the knoll.  The gem stones usually range from 1/8 to 1 inch but larger stones have been found.

The Spectrum Sunstone Mine is a 20 acre privately owned patented mining claim located 27 miles northeast of Plush, Oregon which is open to the public between May 15 and November 1.  Dig through a pile of fresh unprocessed ore for free all day with mine personnel to learn how to spot these fine gem stones.  Additional days are available for $50 per day per person.  Winter mining is welcomed by appointment only.  You may call 775-830-5797 for more information.

You will need to bring a small pick to used on the walls of a mine to reveal sunstones hidden among loose rocks or broken rocks.  A rock picks or screw driver is used for prying the gemstones out of the broken rock.  A shovel and a five gallon plastic bucket is used for  loading loose dirt and broken rocks which is then taken to the screening area for further process.  You will also need to bring a screen.  Loose dirt is shoveled onto a screen and the screen is then shaken to remove small particles and sand.

Watch the screen while shaking it, sunstone will often flash as they roll around.  Always examining the screening area with the sun facing you.  The sunlight will reflect through the sunstones making them easier to spot.  Examine the screenings from various angles and roll the gravel around while doing so.  Before discarding the screenings always look from underneath the screen with the sun at your back.  Many dusty stones can be missed until you see the light pass through them.

Happy treasure hunting.

About the Author

David Cowley has created numerous articles on Treasure Hunting. He has also created a Web Site dedicated to Treasure Hunting. Visit Treasure Hunting

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What kind of rock is this?

My silly husband sent me a rock from Afghanistan. It's a polished stone, so I am unable to do a scratch or streak test without destroying it. According to my mineral field guide it could be labradorite or azurite with pyrite and calcite or quartz. I'm unfamiliar with minerals of that section of the world. So I have no clue what it is. Here's a picture: http://i60.photobucket.com/albums/h13/petcreatures78/100_3255.jpg

It looks very much like lapis lazuli to me. I am sending you a link with a picture to compare.

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