History of Maine Tourmaline
Tourmaline was first discovered in 1820 on Mt. Mica in Paris, Maine, the year that Maine became the 23rd State. Two students interested in minerology were exploring the Maine woods when they caught a glimpse of something green sparkling within the roots of an upturned tree. The snowy Maine winter prevented the boys from continuing their search, however, when Spring arrived, they returned to find many more shimmering crystals of Maine Tourmaline which they in turn sent to Yale University for examination. Yale identified these crystals as Tourmaline, which later became known as the American Gem.
The name tourmaline originates from the Sinhalese word “turmali” which literally means “something out of the earth”. Tourmaline is found not only in Maine and a few other states in the US, but in other areas of the world such as Brazil, Africa and Russia.
In 1972 there was a major new discovery of 3 ½ million carats of gem quality Maine tourmaline on nearby Plumbago Mountain in Newry, Maine. The find represents the most significant and highest grade of tourmaline found anywhere in the world and is recognized as the largest gem find in North America! It was at this time that tourmaline was denoted the “Maine State Gemstone”
In the decade following the famous Plumago Mountain find, Maine gained world fame as the source for the finest quality gem tourmaline in the world. There have been tourmaline specimens mined in Maine that the richness of color, clarity and quality have far exceeded stones from areas around the world.
Maine tourmaline has been found in all varieties of colors. From pastel through ruby red pinks to apple and deep rich greens. The rarest gem color native to Maine is the beautiful blue tourmaline which is sometimes called Indicolite. The shades of blue tourmaline can run from deep green-blues and lighter shades of crisp, icy blue to almost sapphire blue. Maine blue tourmaline commands a higher value than other colors due to its beauty and rarity. Another unique and exquisite color of Maine tourmaline is known to many as “watermelon” tourmaline which is a rare combination of two varieties of tourmaline found in a single crystal. This variety of tourmaline was first discovered in Newry, Maine back in 1902 and the crystal is composed of a large core of deep red tourmaline surrounded by a rind of green tourmaline. This variety of tourmaline can showcase its beauty when cut in a “slice” form when it truly does appear as a slice of watermelon or very often will be cut in emerald cut or elongated baguette shapes and more often be referred to as bi or tri-color tourmaline, depending on the number of colors that appear in the crystal.
Owning a piece of Maine tourmaline or a piece of jewelry crafted with Maine tourmaline is surely a treasure to behold! Although the find in 1972 was immense, this beautiful gem of Maine is becoming increasingly scarce. There continues to be mining of Maine tourmaline to this day and the quality and quantity of these future explorations are unknown. All we can say is that tourmaline, especially Maine tourmaline, is one of the most spectacular gems that nature has produced. Tourmaline contributes the widest range of colors of any other gemstone and is a gem that is a pleasure to own, whether you are a lover of Maine or simply a lover of colored gems. We are very proud to call tourmaline our Maine State Gemstone!