John Price, president of Oregon Outback Mining Co., LLC, is exceptionally enthusiastic about sunstones; in fact, such is his fervor that he’s working to establish a local cottage industry built around the gemstone that’s truly unique solely to Lake County.
Earlier this year, the South Central Oregon Economic Development District and Lake County’s Board of Commissioners approved funding in the form of loans for the operation.
The county approved a Community Development Loan request in the amount of $35,000, while SCOEDD approved a $50,000 in addition to funding from private investors.
Price is working to establish a stone-cutting facility in Plush, and is currently in discussions to convince a prominent New Jersey firm to bring high-speed faceting machines to the area in order to include manufacturing on the local forefront.
A trial balloon of sorts in the last two weeks saw jewelry and cut stones circulating on the Holland America Alaskan cruise line.
A total of 278 pieces of jewelry and 40 cut sunstones were available for purchase, with a reported $5,800 in sales within the first 30 minutes of opening on a Monday morning.
Karen Huyck and Melissa Mienzy head up marketing and retail management on jewelry for Oregon Outback Mining Co., LLC.
Price said that exposure is key for the sunstones, given their uniqueness as the state’s official gemstone as well as exclusively found in Lake County.
The event will feature a band playing music, food vendors and invitations will be extended to local artists to attend, as well.
Price said his goal is to have his operation going in the spring of 2014. The first priority is the stone faceting component, followed by other related elements.
“Our plans are really to get the faceting up and moving,” he said. “Number two would be the jewelry.”
Visit Oregon Outback Mining Co., LLC, on Facebook as well as online at www.outbackmining.com for more information.