"The Stone to Own"
If you're like every other direct-from-the-source Portlander, when it comes to shopping for Valentine's Day, you insist on knowing which farmer harvested your garden salad, which rancher raised your prime rib, which Willamette Valley vintner bottled your pinot. But if you're planning to seal the evening with a five-carat rock, ask yourself this: Do you know your miner?
You do if your jeweler is Bruce Moore. Not only does the silver-haired Moore own Woodmoore & Gray Jewelers downtown, but he's also a partner in the Ponderosa mine, a lucrative hole in the Ochoco National Forest near Burns. Moore brags that Ponderosa is one of the five richest mines in the world, yielding up to two kilograms of sunstones - Oregon's official state gem - per cubic yard of dirt. "It's rarer than diamonds, harder than tanzanite," says Moore. "What makes it a true gemstone is the copper." Microscopic particles give the sunstone its unique sparkle, known as "schiller," which makes it seem to glow from within.
Then there's the lightness it imparts on the pocketbook. The 8½-carat sunstone Moore calls the "Ponderosa Madera" fetches $13,000. A good-quality diamond of that size? "You're talking at least a couple hundred thousand dollars," Moore says. Even so, given the celebrity hand-wringing over ring fingers that's almost assured to transpire at the Oscars this month (seen Blood Diamond, anyone?), the most bankable attribute of the sunstone may be not that it's relatively cheap, but that it's practically guilt-free.