Sunstone History and Lore


Discoveries of glittery sunstone rough led miners to establish claims in the US state of Oregon. – Robert Weldon, courtesy Sunstone Butte Mine
In the early 1800s sunstone was a little-known, rare, and costly gemstone. It wasn’t until finds in Norway, Siberia, and other parts of the world that sunstone became somewhat more widely recognized, more available, and less expensive. In the US state of Oregon in the early 1900s, there were reports of sunstone finds in ancient lava fields in a desert area called Warner Valley. Even earlier, Native Americans in that area might have been the first collectors of Warner Valley sunstones.
 
According to Native American legend, the blood of a great warrior – wounded by an arrow -  dropped onto pieces of Oregon sunstone. The blood carried his warrior spirit into the stones, coloring them with shades of red and giving them sacred power. A museum in Jacksonville, Oregon, includes sunstones in its display of Indian artifacts. In Oregon today, several mining claims produce enough of this unique material to supply mass marketers as well as carvers and high-end jewelry designers.

This photo shows a large sunstone fragment said to be from among the early discoveries in Oregon’s Warner Valley.

Ore Pit, a publication of Oregon State University’s mineralogy department, published this picture of a collection of sunstones from a Jacksonville, Oregon, museum’s display of early Native American sunstone artifacts.