What Are Oregon Sunstones?

Anueva Jewelry is based in Seattle, WA, and we love when we can source stones close to home. Along with Montana sapphires, another favorite local gem of ours — the sunstone — comes from our neighboring state, Oregon. These little stones are truly buttons of sunshine! 

Formation and Characteristics

Oregon Sunstones are a variety of Feldspar known as a type of Labradorite, which belongs to the Plagioclase Feldspar family. What sets these gemstones apart is their remarkable phenomenon known as aventurescence. This word that kind of looks a bit like “adventure” and a bit like “science” is just that! Aventurescence simply refers to the sparkly, glittery appearance of these stones! Oregon sunstones contain metal copper inclusions that reflect light (science) and give off a mesmerizing glittering effect (adventure!). 

One of the distinguishing features of Oregon Sunstones is their range of colors. While they are typically known for their warm hues, including shades of yellow, orange, brown, and red, they can also display cooler tones such as green and blue. When exposed to light, their colors come alive! They often appear brighter and sparklier. Example of Oregon Sunstone Rings

The Oregon Connection

As the name suggests, Oregon Sunstones are native to the state of Oregon, particularly the high desert region in the southeastern part of the state. This “All-American” gemstone was designated as the state’s official gemstone in 1987. While aventurescent feldspar can be found in other locations (Australia, Mexico, India, Canada, etc.), Oregon is the reigning queen of sunstones! 

Oregon Sunstones have a deep connection to the natural landscapes of Oregon. Thirteen to fourteen million years ago, the Steens Mountain volcano erupted, and feldspar crystals were formed in the lava. The lava was subsequently covered by a lake for thousands of years. After the water evaporated and the lava decomposed, a generous scattering of loose sunstones were revealed! In fact, they are so abundant, you can even visit the “Oregon Sunstone Public Collection Area” in the Rabbit Basin to search for your very own sunstones!  

Image of Steens Mountain, Oregon

Steens Mountain, Oregon | Source: Greg Vaughn

Create Your Own Sunstone Ring!

The popularity of Oregon sunstones has grown over the past 10-15 years, and we’re excited to see others love them as much as we do! They are more affordable than diamonds or sapphires, making them a great choice for a “treat-yourself” gift or to build out your jewelry collection. It is important to note that Oregon sunstones are a bit softer and clock in at around 6.5-7.2 on the Moh’s scale. These pieces are fantastic jewelry staples, but they should be worn with care! 

Sunstones are evocative of so many of the things we hold near and dear to our hearts here at Anueva Jewelry. These sparkly precious gems created in nature are little dollops of joy. Jewelry should make your feel confident and these happy stones will do just that! Shop our available Oregon sunstone jewelry or find a loose stone and build your own #dreamring.