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Treasure Hunting For Sunstones

Jan 22, 2008
Sunstones are formed in molten lava and found in volcanic vents that have erupted from volcanos. When the lava rock is weathered away or broken up the sunsone crystals are exposed. Sunstone is a transparent, yellowish labradorite found as crystals in these volcanic rocks. Colors can range from clear through pale yellow, soft pink, and blood red to deep blue and green. Some sunstone crystals will have bands of different throughout. This color varation is caused by varying amounts of tiny crystals of copper and the more colorful or darker stones contain larger amounts of copper.

Sunstones 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 normaly 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.

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 crat, 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 durring filiming, after it was cut and polished it was over 10 carats and was sold to a couple in Oregon for $5,200.

Oregon sunstone 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.

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 storme. Sunstones glitter in the sunlight and can be found on the ground on the east side of the knoll. The gem stones usuallly 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 bewteen May 15 and November 1. Dig through a pile of fresh unprodcessed ore for free all day with mine personnel to learn how to spot these fine gem stones. Additonal days are available for $50 per day per person. Winter mining are welcomed by appointment only.

You will need to bring a pick ax to used on the walls of a mine to reveal sunstones hidden among loose rocks or within broken rocks. A rock pick or screw driver is used for pyring the gemstones out of the broken rock. A shovel and a five gallone plastic bucket for loading loose dirt and broken rocks to be taken to the screening area for furthur process. You will also need to bring a screen. Loose dirt is shoveled onto a screen. 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. Examinin the screenings with the sun facing you. The sunligh will reflect through the sunstones makeing them easer to spot. Examine the screenings from varous 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.
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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