16-APR to 15-OCT .
Sunstone: 25% to 33% of the wholesale rate.
|Address:||Dust Devil Mining Co., P.O. Box 55, BLM 6155, Plush, OR 97637, Tel: +1-503-559-2495, Tel: +1-503-559-9338 E-mail:|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|1991||old abandoned claims discovered in old records.|
|1996||Dust Devil Mine begins selling Oregon Sunstones at the Tucson International Gem Show.|
Oregon sunstone is a feldspar crystal formed in molten lava when it cools down. The size of the feldspar depends on the speed of the solidifying process. If it takes very long, the feldspar solidifies while all other minerals are still molten. As a result the minerals have a lot of time to crystallize and form big crystals which are freely floating in the magma. If they are big enough and have aesthetic colours, they are considered semi-precious gems and used for jewelry. Actually feldspars are very common, but gemstones are extremely rare.
Feldspar is not a single mineral, it is a family of minerals which share certain chemical and physical properties. The most easily visible is the way it reacts on pressure: the mineral breaks along planes in the mineral structure forming planes which reflect the light. This is the origin of the word feldspar, derived from the German word Feldspat which combines Feld (field, because it is common and found in the field) and spat (easyly fissionable). The differences are based on the exact chemical composition of the mineral itself and the amount of other elements contained in them, which often change habit and colour.
Oregon is the only place in the world where gem grade copper containing feldspars are found. Varying amounts of copper cause the stones to range in colour from water clear to yellow, many shades of green, red and pink. Some specimens contain up to four different colours nearby. But the rarest have a special optical effect, and show different colors when viewed from different directions. They are called dichroic Sunstones (two colours) and trichroic Sunstones (three colours).
Dust Devil Mine is actually no mine, it is a collecting site for the famous Oregon Sunstone. Near the city Plush, Oregon, in the high desert, long ago sunstones were found. Claims were filed and abandoned. But in 1991 two couples were in search for gemstone claims and discovered the old files in the BLM records. Terry and Jude Clark and Don and Patsy Buford call themselves rock hounds and lapidarys. They staked the claims in February 1992 and started to dig and break the rock with sledge hammers. The first discoveries were promising and Steve Hackler, equipment operator and mechanic, joined the company. They constructed a screening plant from salvage materials.
Today the men work in the mine every summer for half a year. During winter mining is not possible and the mine is closed. The number of claims grew from three to 25. Dust Devil Mine is one of them and open for the public to collect rocks and minerals. It is known for its exceptionally large stones from 100 to 300+ carats including red, red/green bicolor, and dichroic stones.
The visit to this mine is rather complicated. At first it is located very remote and from any direction there are at least 30 kilometers of gravel road. The operators offer a file with gps waypoints on their webpage, to help you find it. Because of the great height and the high desert climate lots of water, high energy food, and sun protection, especially a hat and sunglasses, are much recommended. Sturdy shoes and warm clothing are advisable too. For the digging a shovel and screen, work gloves, and a hammer and pry bar are necessary too.
The pricing is rather strange. Actually the digging and collecting is free. Low grade feldspars which are called Schiller too. Only gem quality find have to be paid, the owners make a price which is far below the normal price. However, it is not necessary to buy anything if you do not want.