Professional Jeweler Archive: You Light Up My Life

December 2004

Gemstones/Gemology


You Light Up My Life

Sunstone is a phenomenal form of feldspar – even more phenomenal when cutter Dalan Hargrave carves and lights it


Some of the world’s finest sunstone comes from the high desert region of Oregon. Among the best-known miners there is Don Buford of Dust Devil Mining Co., who started to mine the gem a decade ago. Buford says the quantity and quality the mine supplies are only getting better.

These pictures show some of Oregon’s finest pale yellow to reddish colors, with a sprinkling of “schiller,” the copper platelets that give the gem its glistening optical effect.

Dalan Hargrave, one of the premier gem cutters in the U.S., made this jewel, which belongs to Buford’s wife, Patsy.

Hargrave faceted the sunstone, carved the likeness of a lighthouse in the back (visible through the front) and added lapis lazuli from Afghanistan to the bottom. The lapis features a path leading up to the lighthouse.

The magic, however, is in the manufacture of the jewelry. The sunstone portion contains a recessed area for an LCD battery and a tiny LED light. The light acts as the lighthouse’s beacon. If no ships are on the horizon, the light can be turned off with a little gold switch.

– by Robert Weldon, G.G.

The lighthouse is dark. A tiny LED powers the lighthouse beacon.

Photos by Robert Weldon.

Copyright © 2004 by Bond Communications