The Full Story
About Oregon Sunstone
Oregon Sunstone is classified as a cuprian labradorite feldspar. What does this mean? Feldspar is the crystal type. Labradorite might be a stone you've seen with shimmering colors. Sunstone is a type of labradorite in the feldspar class.
While there are other "sunstones" which are labradorite feldspars, only Oregon Sunstone is "cuprian" containing copper inclusions. It's these microscopic bits of copper known as "schiller" that give Oregon Sunstone the shimmering effect. Sometimes it appears as a "constellation effect" as seen in the photo below on the left. Sometimes it's called "cloud schiller" as in the photo on the right, where it looks like little wisps or clouds across the stone. Sometimes you don't see any schiller at all in the stone, but all Oregon Sunstone contains copper which will color the stone from a champagne gold to pink, to orange to bright red to teal or green or combinations of all these colors.
More information about schiller can be found HERE.
Don't be confused by imitations (search "andesine" for more information about fakes) or by Indian or African sunstone which contains hematite inclusions rather than copper. You can see the difference when you look at a bright orange piece of "other sunstone" as opposed to Oregon Sunstone. Indian or African sunstone is generally opaque or only slightly translucent and has large multicolored inclusions (see photo below). Oregon Sunstone on my website is all hand dug by me. I saw it come out of the ground in Eastern Oregon and I guarantee the authenticity.
Oregon Suntone with "constellation schiller" so called because of the way it emulates the stars
Schiller orientated to show a streaking effect is highly sought after in colored Oregon Sunstone
Sometimes other vendors will attempt to pass these off as Oregon Sunstone but they are not. These are Indian or African Sunstone
Oregon Sunstone is found in a remote area of Eastern Oregon and is very hard to find unless you know what you're looking for.
Oregon Native Americans valued Oregon Sunstone and traded it across the west. They would also use it in medicine ceremonies and in sacred bundles. It has been found in many Native burial sites. The ancient legend is that a warrior was wounded by an enemy's arrow and died on the ground, his blood staining the rocks red and this is where Oregon Sunstone comes from.
In the late 1800's Tiffany and Co. of New York was concerned about the availability of diamonds and hearing about Oregon Sunstone, purchased mining rights in the area with the idea of selling "Plush Diamonds" named after the little town of Plush Oregon nearby the deposits. Unfortunately the mining was so difficult and the area so remote that Tiffany gave up on Oregon Sunstones by the 1950's.
In 1987 the Oregon state legislature named Oregon Sunstone as the state gemstone.
Oregon Sunstone has enjoyed a renaissance in the last few years, especially with people who want a unique or special stone for their jewelry or who want to have US sourced stone. Whatever the reason, we're glad Oregon Sunstone has been gaining popularity in recent years.
Sunstone is 6.5-7.2 on the Moh's hardness scale, which means it can be polished, faceted, and carved and made into jewelry.
Some value the stone for its alleged metaphysical properties, claiming that it holds a positive energy represented by the power of the sun, bestowing prosperity, wisdom, fearlessness, generosity, and mental clarity.