All That Glitters Expedition to the High Desert of Oregon for Sunstone - Early June 2018

After an nine year absence from the high desert in Oregon, All That Glitters returned in early June 2018 to the Sunstone Mining Locality outside of Plush, OR.

A visit with associates in the gem business in Oregon was well overdue. Traveling back and forth between the East and West Coast within a year, made it difficult to plan a trip to Oregon. When on the West Coast the temperatures are low and snow is possible; when residing on the East Coast, the flight to within an approximate 6 hour drive to the Sunstone area is not only costly, but the layover timeframes, more than one flight required between New England and the arrival city, is just asking too much at times. We have found travel to be more difficult after about the 2009 timeframe, as many airlines stopped flying into many cities, cut back the number of flights, most airlines overbook their flights so they are always at full capacity and there are the delays through TSA checkpoints, etc. All these issues make flying more difficult to certain areas of the U.S. where it is just less stressful not to even go... Montana is one of the places we would like to visit, as we have been invited to visit the Sapphire localities, but flying there becomes an all day event. We have discovered there is no low season in Montana as every season there offers something to someone, so prices are always at a premium for car rental, hotels, etc...

We stayed a few days in the high desert seeking Sunstone. All areas are producing, but the good material is always less common and sporadic. We had seen some larger pieces of nice color, but the problem is that initially the rough looks good until one looks closer. Sunstone has cleavage and frequently there are cleavage areas and cracks that have to be removed, and unfortunately, it frequently decreases the size of the original piece of rough, even making the piece useless for faceting at times, or a much smaller gemstone is faceted - decreasing the final value. We visited the Dust Devil, Spectrum and Double Eagle. There were a few other possibilities, but one road was too muddy to make it through as it had rained a few days prior to our arrival. One important location that we had hoped to visit ended up having their equipment delayed until the following day after we were supposed to arrive. With this plan change and a few days already in the desert, we left because it isn't the easist place to live due to lack of water, eating dehydrated food, shower/bathroom facilities, etc. Over the years, we have learned that schedules or the anticipated arrival of parts, equipment, supplies, etc. typically will not arrive when expected. It is one thing to visit for the day, and another thing to spend a few days there. One must be prepared, and one thing that is always common there (and a negative), is that there is a fine dust (dirt) that gets everywhere. It ends up in the car through any crack/opening; one breathes it in, so it finds its way into a nose, ears, eyes, lungs, etc.

Most of the mining areas have times when they enter a rich deposit and others (more frequent) where little is being found. There are always Sunstone being found in various areas, but it doesn't mean that there is much value associated with the material. While we were there, the Double Eagle was just getting back into a producing area which has not been accessbile due to the rain issue of days earlier. The Dust Devil has closed the previous pit near their facilities since the last time we were there in 2009. They have opened up the Snake Bite Pit approximately 5 miles away. This is just getting started and has produced a few nice larger pieces, but mining is difficult because they are still in mostly hard rock. It is their hope that they will be blasting which will allow them to get into an area which should be richer and easier for them, as well as diggers, to obtain more material.

When one visits this area of Oregon, it is a guarantee that you will find Sunstone - can even find it on the roads, in the parking lots, in the Public Digging Areas, etc. However, the fine material that has value is still far and few between, just in any species of mineral/gem. We did purchase two large pieces of Sunstone (both just about 100cts each). One is a yellowish color with a small pinkish area in the center; this is currently in the possession of a multi-award winning cutter. The other piece is elongated with a reddish/pink center surrounded by clear. We are considering allowing one of our other mulit-award winning cutters to do his magic on this piece. Both pieces should be incredible and important pieces once cut, IF all goes well. It is our hope that if we do obtain beautiful pieces from the rough, we might attempt to enter them into the AGTA Cutting Edge Awards in 2019. For the first time, this year, we did enter a piece of jewelry into the 2018 AGTA's Spectrum Award Contest. (See photos at the bottom showing the rough described above; we cannot share any photos of the piece of jewelry designed/created for the contest, as it can't be published prior to judging).

Below you will find a few photos taken on the drive to the Sunstone area as well as on the way back to Northern California. Enjoy the photos showing the natural beauty and ruggedness of the area; you will have an idea of what it is like to be there as well as perhaps live there for a bit of time. A few photos of the noted digging areas and mining companies/land owners are included.

Left Lakeview, OR behind and heading on Rte. 140 towards Plush

Roadside Wildflowers - Spring comes to different parts of the state at different times

Prong Horn Antelope on the roadside

Scenery on the Road to Plush

More Wildflowers and Color on the road going to Plush

A view of the Limited Signage on the Dirt Roads driving to the Sunstone Areas

Dust Devil Complex showing Trailers and Mining Equipment

Road to the new Dust Devil endeavour - Snake Bite Pit

Mining Equipment at the Snake Bite Pit

View looking into the beginning of the Snake Bite Pit

View from the Snake Bite Pit Area
Spectrum Mine area in the foreground; Dust Devil in the background

Spectrum Mine Office

View from the Double Eagle Mine Road, looking back towards the main road

Fine Dust from the roads driven - gets into ALL cracks and crevices of the car

View of Mount Lassen from Rte. 299; drive back to Northern California

View of Mount Shasta from Rte. 299; drive back to Northern California

Purchased Rough - 94cts, June 2018
To be faceted by one of our Multi-Award Winning Cutters!

Purchased Rough - 103cts, June 2018
Currently in the competent hands of Multi-Award Winning Dalan Hargrave

To view Oregon Sunstones in the All That Glitters Inventory, visit the following page:
All That Glitters Oregon Sunstone Inventory