Oregon sunstone, custom cut with schiller
Oregon sunstone, custom cut with schiller

Oregon Sunstone Value, Price, and Jewelry Information


While feldspar sunstones from sources around the world have been used for carvings and cabochons, Oregon sunstone material has proven to be facetable, too. These stones frequently display a stunning glowing or glittery optical effect.

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While feldspar sunstones from sources around the world have been used for carvings and cabochons, Oregon sunstone material has proven to be facetable, too. These stones frequently display a stunning glowing or glittery optical effect.

Oregon sunstone, custom cut with schiller
Oregon sunstone, light brownish green with schiller effect, custom marquise-cut by Tom Munsteiner. 1.64 cts, 16.8 x 6.4 mm, Oregon, USA. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

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Oregon Sunstone Value

Schiller
  • Color Intensity: Light, medium, deep
  • Color Range: Clear, gold, peach, coral, orange, red, green
  • Transparency: Translucent to Opaque
Clear Hues
  • Color Intensity: Light
  • Color Range: Clear, gold, peach, coral, pink, red, green, blue
  • Transparency: Transparent
Mid-Deep Tones
  • Color Intensity: Medium to deep
  • Color Range: Strong Peach, orange, red, green, blue
  • Transparency: Transparent

 

Constellation, AKA Aventurescent
  • Color Intensity: Medium to deep
  • Color Range: Strong peach, orange, red, green, blue
  • Transparency: Transparent
Two Tone (Dichroic)
  • Color Intensity: Medium to deep
  • Color Range: Strong peach, orange, red, green, blue
  • Transparency: Transparent
Classic Sunstone
  • Color Intensity: Combination of light-medium or light-deep
  • Color Range: Gold, peach, coral, pink, red, green, blue
  • Transparency: Transparent

Note: There was a limited sampling of larger sized stones, which may affect pricing accuracy.

Mystique
  • Color Intensity: Light, medium, deep
  • Color Range: Gold, peach, coral, pink, red, green, blue
  • Transparency: Transparent

Pale yellow to colorless, non-phenomenal Oregon sunstones, whether native-cut or calibrated stones, may go for a few dollars per carat to $20 per carat for a custom cut. Pinks and tans, with and without a schiller effect, commonly range up to $50 per carat, depending on the effect.

    Opaque, cabbed stones are modestly priced. Some greens, strong pinks, and reds, as well as bi-colored and tri-colored stones, with and without schiller, range from $50 to $300 per carat.

    Large stones (over three carats) with an intense red color may retail for as much as $1,700 per carat. The best greens are very rare and may cost more than the best reds.

    Oregon sunstone pendant
    Custom pendant. 6-ct Oregon sunstone, octagonal cut, diamonds, and platinum. © J. Grahl Design. Used with permission.

    Carved Oregon sunstone pieces are valued as much for their artistic merit as for the material itself.

    Oregon Sunstone Carving
    A freeform Oregon sunstone carving by Martha Borzoni of Different Seasons Jewelry. Photo by Jessa and Mark Anderson is licensed under CC By 2.0.

    For more information on Oregon sunstone value factors, consult our buying guide.

    Oregon sunstone colors
    Oregon sunstones, showing color range (~ 1 to 5 cts). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

    What is Oregon Sunstone?

    Gem collectors and jewelry lovers from all over the world are fast becoming aware of this uniquely American gemstone. While many varieties of labradorite feldspar can display aventurescence or schiller and are commonly called "sunstones," those effects are typically caused by inclusions of hematite or goethite. In contrast, the labradorite sunstones found in Oregon have inclusions of copper. This unique happenstance means these gemstones may both display a schiller effect and transparency. This makes them highly desirable as faceted jewelry stones.

    Intense red and transparent gems with schiller are in great demand. However, many color varieties occur in Oregon, with and without the glowing effect.

    Oregon sunstone - red colors
    Red Oregon sunstones. Note the glittery schiller effect of the leftmost gem on the top row. Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

    Oregon Sunstone Symbolism

    Although a relative newcomer to many in the gem buying public, Oregon sunstone has traditionally been valued and traded by the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest. In 1987, Oregon officially declared it its state gemstone. In the esoteric realm of birthstone mythology, sunstones are considered the phenomenal birthstone for those born on Sunday.

    Is Oregon Sunstone the Same Thing as Viking Sunstone?

    Although they share a name (and pleochroism, the display of two or more colors when viewed from different angles), Oregon sunstones are not the so-called "sunstones" Vikings reputedly used to navigate on overcast days or when the sun was low in the Arctic sky. Pleochroic iolite was most likely the "Viking Compass."

    Identifying Characteristics

    Inclusions

    The only feldspar sunstone with copper inclusions is Oregon sunstone. However, not all specimens display the schiller effect. The copper inclusions in Oregon sunstone come in varieties like threads, spots, sheets, and clouds.

    Oregon sunstone - examples of schiller
    Oregon sunstones. © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

    Pleochroism

    Stone ColorPleochroism
    Yellowcolorless/light yellow
    (Multi-colored) red-orangeviolet /reddish orange
    (Multi-colored) blue-greenblueish green/light red
    Red Orangeorange/light reddish purple
    Blueish greenblueish green/light orange/colorless
    Orangeorange/reddish orange
    Yellowish greenblueish green/light orange
    Blue-green and violetred-violet/reddish orange/blueish green

    Synthetics

    Oregon sunstones have not been synthesized. However, goldstone, a synthetic material made of glass with copper inclusions, may be used as a simulant. A gemologist can easily distinguish a natural Oregon sunstone from one of these glass pieces.

    Enhancements

    Although plagioclase feldspars such as andesine can be enhanced with the addition of copper through heating and pressure treatments, Oregon sunstone isn't known to be enhanced or treated. It acquires its copper naturally.

    Sources

    Substantial amounts of high-value Oregon sunstone rough are now being extracted from its namesake state. 

    Harney County and Lake County, Oregon produce Oregon sunstone. Companies on private claims mine most of this material. However, there's a public Sunstone Collection Area in Lake County.

    Oregon sunstone natural crystal and faceted gem
    Oregon sunstone rough and cut set, Plush, Lake County, Oregon, USA. 2.7 x 1.7 x 0.9 cm (natural crystal), 3.57 cts (brilliant oval-cut gem). © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

    Caring for Oregon Sunstone Jewelry

    Because of their hardness of 6 to 6.5, Oregon sunstones are best suited for jewelry such as pendants, earrings, brooches, or other pieces that won't endure heavy wear. Common dust has a hardness of 7 to 7.5 and will scratch this material. Steel can also scratch gems with a hardness of 6. For ring use, place Oregon sunstones in protective settings.

    The best cleaning method for Oregon sunstones is warm water, detergent, and a soft brush. Avoid mechanical cleaning methods such as ultrasonic systems and steam. Consult our gemstone jewelry cleaning guide for more information.

    Oregon sunstone ring
    14k white gold ring featuring a 3.67-ct Oregon sunstone from the Butte Mine and 0.21-ctw diamonds. Photo courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and Roland NY.

    Examples of Oregon Sunstones


    Joel E. Arem, Ph.D., FGA

    Dr. Joel E. Arem has more than 60 years of experience in the world of gems and minerals. After obtaining his Ph.D. in Mineralogy from Harvard University, he has published numerous books that are still among the most widely used references and guidebooks on crystals, gems and minerals in the world.

    Co-founder and President of numerous organizations, Dr. Arem has enjoyed a lifelong career in mineralogy and gemology. He has been a Smithsonian scientist and Curator, a consultant to many well-known companies and institutions, and a prolific author and speaker. Although his main activities have been as a gem cutter and dealer, his focus has always been education. joelarem.com


    Barbara Smigel, PhD. GG

    Barbara Smigel is a GIA certified gemologist, facetor, jewelry designer, gem dealer, gemology instructor and creator of the well-regarded educational websites acstones.com and bwsmigel.info.


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