Photographic evidence of Ethiopian Sunstone Mine…or is it?

Photographic evidence of Ethiopian Sunstone Mine…or is it?

After last week’s report on GIA’s claim of a new copper-bearing feldspar mine in Ethiopia, I heard from many in the scientific community who agreed that the GIA’s use of “hearsay evidence” to support their report was not only frivolous and without scientific merit, it also served to do damage to the Oregon Sunstone Mining industry. In addition to these responses I received and was directed to images from Ethiopian dealers of the claimed material.  And finally, I was reminded by one of the miners that I was sent a sample of this Ethiopian material several months ago, that indeed was sitting in the ISG vault. So, I decided to take all of this and look a bit deeper.

Below you see a composite of the images I was sent. I have put them into a single image to demonstrate the marked similarities of the material. Let us look at this material by the arrows.

1.      Arrows show a wet appearing red matrix material caked up on the crystals surface.

2.      Arrows point to identical red crusty matrix caked up on the crystal surface.

3.      Arrows point to identical coloring

4.      Perfectly matching colors.

5.      Perfectly matching colors.

Look at the image above again…. You guessed it: The photograph is from an image sent to me from the purported Ethiopian sunstone mine…but the inset images are from the Ponderosa Mine in Oregon! My trip to Ponderosa is seen below. All these perfectly matching sunstones in perfectly matching red matrix are supposedly found in mines that are 8,585 miles apart.

After many years of researching copper-bearing feldspar, including visits to most of the mines in Oregon, I have found that copper-bearing feldspar found in the Rabbit Basin of Plush, Oregon, and the Ponderosa Mine of Harney, County have unique colors. The mines are miles apart and there are unique color differences in the sunstone coming from their separate areas. Even the matrix rock containing the feldspar is different. Plush area mines are more greyish black while the Ponderosa mine is more reddish. As you saw in the image above, the Ponderosa matrix and colors are exactly like the claimed Ethiopian sunstone.

Let us look closer at this issue. Below is a close up photograph of the identical red matrix material on both the Ponderosa feldspar and the claimed Ethiopian feldspar. But there is one more issue to review. 

In the litigation of Direct Shopping Network v. Robert James, part of our scientific test results was from running Raman Spectroscopy scans on thousands of feldspars. The issue was that the Oregon Sunstone feldspar could be separated from all others by use of Raman Photoluminescence. Since I had a piece of the claimed Ethiopian sunstone and a bunch of Ponderosa sunstone that I collected during my visit there, I ran another Raman scan just before this report. The results: Identical as you see below.

Of course, this is all circumstantial evidence. Nothing diagnostic. But it is joined by the credible report I received that several hundred kilos of Ponderosa sunstone were recently reported missing and have never been seen again on the market.

It is my personal experience in litigation cases that the Gemological Institute of America will manipulate scientific evidence on behalf of high paying customers, or to further their marketing agenda. As I stated in my previous report: “We got them from a guy who got them from a guy at a gem show” is not scientific verification of a mine. But that is what the GIA wants us to believe.

The bottom line is there is no proof of a copper bearing sunstone mine in Ethiopia. No proof. All we have is circumstantial evidence that raises serious questions.

The GIA wants you to believe a copper-bearing feldspar mine in Ethiopia based on them getting some pieces from a guy at a gem show.

I must ask again: Is that the level of scientific standard you want operating in this industry?

I do not.

Robert James FGA, GG
Global Claims Associates