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Gem &  Mineral Gallery,LLC

Mailing Address:
PO Box 714
Newport, OR 97365
(541) 264-5908

Established 1987

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What you should know about fine jewelry:

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  • An All-American Gemstone
    Oregon Sunstone -

    Oregon Symbols - What You Should Know About the Oregon State Gemstone: Sunstone. Samples of FACETS 14KY Gold Ponderosa Red-Sunstone Cabachon Pendant, faceted loose gemstones and a ladies 14K filigree Ring. Visit FACETS... and choose for yourself a beautiful Oregon Sunstone. They come in a variety of natural tones from water clear through pale champagne - yellow, soft pink to blood red or deep blue and green. Some of the deeper colored stones may even have bands of multiple colors.

    Governor Neil Goldschmidt and the Oregon legislature proclaimed sunstone the Oregon State Gemstone in 1987.

    Properties of Oregon Sunstone
    (sodium calcium aluminum silicate)
    (Ca, NA)(Al, Si)2Si2O8
    6  - 7.2
    1.563 - 1.572
    in 2 directions
    Other Oregon items
    we offer:
    State Shell:
    Oregon Triton Fusitriton oregonense
    The Oregon Hairy Triton (Fusitriton oregonesis) was declared the state seashell in 1989 by the Sixty-fifth Legislative Assembly of Oregon.  Shells are sometimes over five inches long with rounded whorls of white shell covered, when living, with a (Photo shows one hairy and one without) brown, hairy layer called periostracum.  Clean white shells are available for sale at FACETS Gem & Mineral Gallery, in Newport, Oregon.
    Oregon State Rock:
    Photo Comming Soon!
    Oregon State Fossil
    The legislature designated the Metasequoia, or dawn redwood, as the official state fossil for Oregon by resolution in 2005. The Metasequoia flourished from the Oligocene into the Miocene Epoch 34 to 5 million years ago and left its record embedded in rocks across the Oregon landscape. The designation is part of a long-term economic, research and educational effort to draw attention to Oregon's paleontologic and geologic resources. While long extinct in Oregon, paleontologists discovered living 100-foot Metasequoia trees in a remote area of China over 50 years ago and brought specimens back to the United States for propagation, thus ensuring that live Metasequoia trees can be found today. (Image courtesy National Park Service, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument) Samples available for sale at FACETS Newport showroom.
    Field Guides: Oregon Traveler's Package
    OREGON TRAVELER'S PACKAGE for Rockhounding Oregon - three Oregon gem hunting guides: THE ROCKHOUND'S MAP of Oregon - Complied and published by Oregon Department of Transportation. This official rockhounding map is just the thing to help you chart your vacation/rockhounding odyssey in Oregon. GEM TRAILS OF OREGON - detailed handbook of locations and OREGON UNDER FOOT the companion guide with full color photos for identification of what you are likely to find on your journey. In Stock and ships immediatately. $22.90. Order NOW and SAVE

    Sample Photo of a Custom FACETS 14K Gold Filled BiColor-Sunstone Wire Wrap PendantOf the entire world - only in Oregon can you find the vary rare and beautiful flashy A grade salmon - red, Oregon Sunstones from the Ponderosa Mine. Natural colored gem stones, (100% NATURAL - not enhanced) mined in the USA! Stop in today let us assist you with your purchase of a fine faceted Oregon Sunstone and or in the designing of a most cherished treasure with your stone or ours! Small Sunstone sample bags are available for educational purposes for $1.00 each.

    To have your stones faceted or cut, look to the web for a listing of your faceters guilds, or gem clubs listed for your area.

    Product availability & prices subject to change without notice.

    More Sunstone: facts and Oregon Geology     |    From the Ponderosa Mine    |   
    Also available Sunstone: Tumbling Rough   |   Tumbled Stones   |   Faceting Machines   |   Field Guides for collecting...

    The Sunstone

    Also known as heliolite,

    is a transparent feldspar with colors ranging from water clear through pale yellow, soft pink, and blood red to (extremely rare) deep blue and green. The color appears to vary systematically with small amounts of copper and may depend on both the amount and the size of individual copper particles present in the stone.

    Pale yellow stones have a copper content as low as 20 parts per million (ppm) (0.002 percent), green stones contain about 100 ppm per million (0.01 percent), and red stones have up to 200 ppm (0.02 percent) copper. Some of the deeper colored stones have bands of varying color, and a few stones are dichroic, that is, they show two different colors when viewed from different directions.

    Many stones appear to be perfectly transparent at first, but when they are viewed in just the right direction, a pink to red metallic shimmer flashes from within the stone. This effect is called "schiller" or "aventurescence" and is caused by light reflecting from minute parallel metallic platelets suspended in the sunstone. When viewed along their edges, the platelets are invisible to the naked eye; when viewed, however, perpendicular to their surfaces, they reflect light simultaneously from each platelet, creating a mirror effect. Earlier studies of the Lake County feldspar suggested that the platelets were hematite (iron oxide), but the most recent research concludes that they are flat crystals of copper metal.

    The terms "sunstone" and "heliolite" (from Greek helios, meaning sun, and lithos, meaning "stone") have been used for at least two centuries for feldspars exhibiting schiller. The Lake County occurrence was first reported in 1908, and the presence of the schiller effect was the original reason for naming the stones sunstones. For decades, however, the term "sunstone" has been used for these Oregon gem feldspars both with and without schiller.

    Oregon sunstones are a calcium-rich variety of plagioclase feldspar named labradorite, a common mineral in basaltic lava flows. All three known sunstone occurrences are in small basalt flows that superficially resemble basalt flows elsewhere in the state that contain large feldspar phenocrysts or megacrysts. However, feldspars in those flows are typically cloudy to opaque and relatively small compared to those in the sunstone flows, which are clear, glassy, and can be up to 2 or 3 in. in one dimension.

    No detailed information has been collected on the geology, petrography, or chemistry of the known sunstone flows, so no meaningful comparisons can be made between them or with other flows in the area. The sunstone flows appear to be small; the Lake County occurrence covers about 7 sq. mi., and the two Harney County occurrences are probably less than 1 sq. mi. each. Considering the regional geology and the wide separation between the flows, it is probable that there are more sunstone occurrences in the area.

    Sunstones are mined from the soil and partially decomposed rock formed by weathering of the lava flows. The surface debris is dug with pick and shovel and sieved through a quarter-inch screen, and the sunstones are separated from rock fragments by hand. In some local areas, the lava flows are weathered to a depth of several feet, and good stones have been recovered from pits dug into these zones. Hard-rock mining techniques have been used on unweathered parts of the flows, but the sunstones are often shattered along with the lava, and recovery of large unbroken stones is difficult.

    Except for part of the Lake County occurrence, all three producing areas are held by mining claims and are not available for collecting without permission of the claim owners. About 2 sq. mi. of the Lake County flow have been withdrawn from mineral entry and established by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (13LM) as a free public collecting area. This sunstone area is located off the northeast flank of the Rabbit Hills about 25 mi. north of Plush and 80 mi. northeast of Lakeview. Maps, directions, and information on road conditions are available from the BLM District Office in Lakeview.

    Varieties of feldspars used as gemstones are valued for their colors or optical effects. Being typically translucent to opaque, they are normally cut in rounded forms or cabochons. Transparent gem feldspars, particularly calcium-rich varieties, that can be cut as faceted stones are rarer. Occurrences of transparent labradorite have been reported from Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Utah, but few gems have been produced from those areas. Oregon sunstones are uncommon in their composition, clarity, and range of colors, and they occur in sufficient abundance to permit sustained production of faceted gems.

    Editors Note: This article Oregon Sunstones reprinted from an February, 1987 Oregon Geology article by Ron Geitgey, DOGAMI..

    Sunstone: facts     |    Ponderosa Mine
    Also available Sunstone: Tumbling Rough   |   Tumbled Stones
    Return to TOP ...

    All-natural and all-American Sunstone, Labradorite

    from the Ponderosa Mine, Oregon - The Ponderosa mine is now producing commercial quantities of the gem-quality labradorite feldspar known as sunstone. This gem material exhibits unique optical and physical properties that include a wide range of saturated body colors, aventurescence, and strong pleochroism. The feldspar is An70 labradorite, a high calcic plagioclase; the aventurescence-causing inclusions have been identified as pure native copper. Microprobe analyses conducted on colorless, red, and green samples did not reveal any obvious causative mechanism for the the exhibited colors, although ongoing research is investigating intervalence charge transfer, possibly involving colloidal copper. Gemological identification involves the use of R.I., S.G., and microscopy. Locality determination (Oregon) is based on the copper inclusions and a distinct pleochroism.

    Conclusions - The Ponderosa mine in northwestern Harney County, Oregon, is now the world's premier location for both facet-and cabochon-quality sunstone labradorite feldspar. Current known ore reserves at the Ponderosa mine suggest at least 20 years of production at the one-million-carats-per-year level. By comparison, current estimates suggest that the Plush area is capable of producing at the 250,00-carats-per-year level. No other known deposit produces or historically exhibits as wide a range of colors, as well as pleochorism and aventurescence in three directions

    The present study concludes that the aventurescence is a result of the precipitation of copper platelets driven by decreasing pressure and temperature during formation. While no cause of color was positively identified, it is suggested that the intense color in these gems may be the result of intervalence charge transfer between unknown metal ions, possibly involving copper. Specifics of both the color mechanism and the origins of the aventurine effects are the topics of additional study currently in progress.

    The key identifying characteristics of Ponderosa mine sunstone include refractive index and specific gravity. Finally, both the copper inclusions and the presence of strong red-to-green pleochroism provide proof that the locality of origin is Oregon.

    Editors Note: This article originally appeared in the Winter 1991, Volume 27 Issue 4 issue of Gems and Gemology (G.I.A.), article by Christopher L. Johnston, Mickey E Gunter and Charles R. Knowles.

    (c) 2000 - 2014 FACETS Gem & Mineral Gallery,LLC All Rights Reserved..

    Sunstone: facts    |    Ponderosa Mine    |    Also available Sunstone: Tumbling Rough   |   Faceting Machines   |   Tumbled Stones
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    Information on fine jewelry which we hope you will find helpful: Gemologist Corner    |   Jewelry Repair & Appraisal Services    |   Birthstones  |   Moissanite   |   Summer Jewelry Care   |   Vacation Shopping    |   Regarding the loss of stones due to prong failure  |   Why does Gold discolor fingers?   |   What is the difference between gold filled and plated? Return to TOP...
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