Jewels from the Woods

Gem Mining Reports

Hart Mountain, OregonIn southeastern Oregon, past the tiny town of Plush, you head out on Hogback Road into the high desert of the Oregon Outback. Hart Mt. is on your right as you drive along the dusty valley floor. This is the Hart Mt. antelope refuge, home to a variety of wildlife including antelope, big horn sheep, and eagles. The entire valley floor is formed by an ancient lava flow. Found within this ancient rock is gem quality feldspar crystals that have been colored by and contain elements of copper. The presence of copper gives Oregon Sunstone its unique colors, including various shades of red, orange, and green and uniquely bi-color material that has both red and green colors within the same stone. Another optical property unique to Oregon Sunstone is referred to as schiller, or schiller effect. This occurs when tiny particles of copper are suspended in and line up with the feldspar crystal matrix. The result is that the stones will flash with a bright copper sheen when oriented to the light. This effect also occurs with color and can be seen as bars or bands of schiller or like shiny snow flakes floating within the crystal. Sunstone is also the Oregon State gem stone.

Dust Devil Mine entrance
In the pit
The turn into Dust Devil Mining, the largest producing mine in the Sunstone area.
In the pit at Dust Devil.
Larry and Elaina
Dust Devil mining pit
Larry and Elaina working the electric demolition hammer at Dust Devil.
  Prospecting for Oregon Sunstones, like any kind of gem mining, is hard work.
Oregon Sunstone in the raw
Larry says it's a good one
It’s all worth it though when you find
a nice piece.
  This is an 80 carat piece of red schiller sunstone
that Larry found.
The piece will make an exceptional carving.
Plenty of rough material
Good schiller effect
If you don’t find any you can always stop and buy some on the way out.   Schiller in an Oregon Sunstone carving by Larry Woods, this is a piece that Larry mined in 2006.