Mining in Oregon: The Jewel in the Crown of North America

| 5 min read

This jewel in the crown of North America has gone through such unique tectonic activity over millennia that its distinctive geology has seen this state blessed with unique buried treasures.

Oregon is richly diverse in the variety of rock types that penetrate this ancient land; this has led to pockets of Sunstone and Fire Opal that differ considerably from similar deposits around the world.

OREGON SUNSTONE

Oregon Sunstone

The Sunstone from Oregon has long been associated with Tiffany & Co, who were rumored to have bought up several claims in the late 1800s with the intention of marketing the stone as “The Plush Diamond”. There are disputes as to when Tiffany gave these mines up. Some prominent veteran Sunstone miners claim that the company held these sites right up until the 1950s. The general consensus is that Tiffany found it difficult to maintain a mining claim from New York. It is easy to see what captivated the Fifth Avenue jewelry giant when presented with fine grade Oregon Sunstone. The gem is infused with microscopic copper platelets; they twinkle and dance in the light as they are miraculously suspended within the crystal’s structure like Diamonds on a string.

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Serenite

Every now and again a gemstone will come along which will rise above the standard set by the rest of its gem family. Those of you familiar with Paraiba Tourmaline will know that it is an extraordinary gem within its species. Tanzanite tells a similar story. In fact, many Tanzanite fans might not see the link between Zoisite and this violet treasure. For this reason, Tanzanite and Paraiba Tourmaline command considerably more per carat than Zoisite or Green Tourmaline.

Oregon

In a similar way, Sunstone from Oregon has risen above the standard set by other Sunstone deposits around the world. With an aventurescent shimmer caused by microscopic copper platelets suspended within the stone, Oregon Sunstone looks very distinctive. Due to this, the state of Oregon was keen to make that distinction clear and sought a trade name that set it apart. Here at Gemporia we award this top grade material the name Serenite. It was in 1987 that the state of Oregon bestowed this particular Gemstone with the honor of being the official state stone. The resolution was passed unanimously in the House (56-0) and the Senate (28-0).

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COLORS FROM THE WORLD

The world of colored gemstones is captivating; these rare genuine gemstones are borne from the earth and often give us perfect representations of the world around us. Aquamarines instantly remind us of the oceans that keep the continents apart. Paraiba Tourmaline, Larimar and Aquaprase bring to mind tropical lagoons marbled with sunlight.

Oregon mine sign

Emeralds evoke the landscapes of lush green rainforests and fertile pastures; they have become so synonymous with that representation that Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle because of its natural beauty. However, where is the stone that pays tribute to the greatest wonder of all?

FIRE OPAL - AN OPAL THAT SET A NEW STANDARD

Fire Opal

There is no greater natural source of inspiration than the sun. It gives us life, it grows our food and after a dangerous storm it can bless us with a rainbow.

A true Fire Opal is a gemstone that can encapsulate the intense beauty and wonder of the most beautiful sunset. From the richest of reds to the most glowing of oranges, Fire Opals from Oregon broke new ground on an international level. Oregon Fire Opal is truly a gemstone that added a new and colorful twist on an already established and revered natural wonder.

Gemstones have their prominent colors, the colors that they are desired and known for. When we think of Sapphires we think of a deep royal blue and when we think of Diamonds, we imagine a flawless colorless crystal. There are sometimes exceptions. Very rarely, a small pocket will send the market into a frenzy and will reinvent what is expected from a gemstone. Songea gave Sapphires rainbow color, Tunduru gave Sapphires color change and Argyle gave the world the Pink Diamond. Oregon gave the world Fire Opal.

Rough Fire Opal

The one thing Oregon’s mines have in common is that thousands of prospectors descend on these locations and they are all but depleted. For years Mexico had set the standard for the finest intense Red Fire Opal and the industry had focused its efforts on this red hue of Opal that Mexico was famed for. However, in 2014 we were contacted by two men… Chuck and Barry, two men who happened to strike gold. Our reputation in the industry and our track record of working and investing in small family run mines and doing fair business had preceded us and they wanted to show us their life’s work. Steve flew out with his good friend, the world-renowned gem artist Glenn Lehrer, for a second opinion. They were both blown away.

Steve and Glenn

Steve and Glenn were astonished by the shimmering colors of sunset and sunrise across the entire parcel. This mine didn’t have strict parameters, there was no defining color and each stone had a different tone, a different character. The stone redefined Fire Opal. Steve knew that he were at risk of this mine being snapped up in a frenzy like all of the unique mines that had gone before it so he did something we never do: he signed for exclusive rights.

When these stones are cut, it unlocks their full potential. The light seems to slow down as it enters each stone, as if it too wants to gaze at the richness of their color. Oregon truly has positioned itself as a North American powerhouse in the world of rare, unique and natural gemstones, a state that due to its geological history is as diverse as the stones that sit beneath its terrain.

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