Maine offers jewelry that represents the look and culture of Maine with artisans that are well trained and deep in their character and motif. Wether its pendants, gold, tourmaline, diamonds, in the form of lobsters, lighthouses, anchors, hearts, boots, animals, Maine's craftsmen can make most any kind of jewelry. When visiting Maine, you should take up a studio tour, like the one Steve Brown gives in Freeport. A master designer, creator of fine jewelery, and certified gemologist appraiser, Steve can show you his workshop filled with hand tools, wax molds, and stunning gems, that have designed his famous jewelry for years to come,..
Maine's Own Gemstones -
The pegmatites (course-grained granites) of western Maine have yielded an abundance of gem quality minerals including tourmaline, aquamarine, morganite, smoky quartz, rose quartz, and amethyst. A few rich deposits have been mined only for gems. Others were first explored and developed in the late 1800s as sources of industrial feldspar, an essential ingredient in the manufacture of chinaware. Tourmaline seems to have a special place in the hearts of mineral collectors as well as in that of gem and gemstone enthusiasts. Its nearly universal popularity is based on two very important facts: first, it is a bright and beautiful gemstone that can be found in just about any color; and second, materials that are of acceptable quality are affordable to most purchasers. The word "rainbow" is used figuratively to describe tourmaline. In reality, it is a well recognized fact that tourmaline's diversity in color is not limited to the seven colors of the rainbow. Tourmaline can be colorless to just about any color, hue, or tone known to man. And if range of colors among different tourmalines is not enough, individual crystals can vary in color along their length or in cross-section. The variations in color along a crystal's length give rise to the bicolor and tricolor tourmalines which have multitudes of color combinations. The variation in color in cross-section can be concentric, as in the case of "watermelon" tourmaline, a pink core surrounded by a green rind. Or the variation may have a distinct triangular pattern as in the case of liddicoatite. Maine.--Tourmaline was the first gemstone mined in the United States by miners other than prehistoric man or Native Americans. Tourmaline mining began at Mount Mica, ME, in 1822 and, with starts and stops, has continued to the present. In 1992, operations at Mount Mica produced both gem-quality and mineral specimen tourmaline.
Figure 11.--Tourmaline from Maine.
(Photo is courtesy of Smithsonian.)
Over the years, mining operations on Mount Mica produced hundreds of kilograms of tourmaline. Museums and private collections around the world contain outstanding examples of tourmaline from the deposit. The largest reported crystal from the site apparently is one that is 39.4 centimeters long, 17.8 centimeters wide, and weighs about 14.3 kilograms. Apparently, a flawless, blue-green 256-carat stone is the largest cut stone from Mount Mica.
Mount Mica may have been the first tourmaline producer in Maine, but it is by no means the largest. Newry Hill, a spur off Plumbago Mountain, or more specifically the Dunton Mine on Newry Hill, is the most prolific tourmaline producer in Maine. Since its discovery in 1898, production from the mine has exceeded thousands of kilograms of high-quality tourmaline. The mines ability to yield large quantities of quality tourmaline was clearly demonstrated by Plumbago Mining Corp. The company reported that from October 1972 until the Fall of 1974, it produced more than one metric ton of fine-quality tourmaline.
Other mines and quarries in a three county area produce gem- and specimen-grade tourmalines. The level and type of activities at each mine or quarry vary from year to year. Currently, most of them are open to hobbyist or professional collectors for a fee or with the owners permission.
Maine tourmalines come in a wide variation of colors, deep grass green to light green to yellow-green to blue green. They are also found in all shades of red, from pink to deep red, and blue-green to light blue to deep blue, and as colorless crystals. The State's mines also produce bicolors and watermelon crystals. The colors can be very fine and some believe that Maine tourmalines set the standard for non-chrome green tourmaline.
Tourmaline crystals mined at Newry in the 1970's supply high-quality gems to jewelers throughout the world. The thousands of hobbyists who come to Maine each year to collect minerals also make a significant contribution to the state's economy. As prospecting continues it is very likely that Maine pegmatites will yield additional rare minerals.