Tourmaline has been a treasured gemstone for more than 2,000 years, and comes in over 200 recognized hues, which is far more than any other gemstone. Beyond individual hues, tourmaline crystals are sometimes banded with more than one color which, once cut into gemstones, are called bi-color tourmalines or watermelon tourmalines, due their uncanny resemblance to the fruit.
Tourmaline has been mined in Maine since the 1800s. In fact, the largest discovery in North American history occurred here in 1972 at the Dunton mine outside the town of Newry. There, our friend Dale Sweat and his partners uncovered what has subsequently resulted in millions of faceted carats of the gemstone.
The tourmaline from Maine is typically, but not always, softer pastels, making it distinctly different than tourmaline found elsewhere in the world. These pastels blend well together and can make exquisite jewelry when used in combinations.
Due in part to the vast range of colors that tourmalines come in, gemologists categorize them as the "tourmaline group", giving basic color category a name: red and pink tourmaline is rubellite, blue is indicolite, clear is achroite, brown is dravite. There's even black tourmaline, which was sometimes used as "mourning jewelry" in the 1800s, called schorl. And there are hues found so infrequently that they aren't even named; we get yellow on occasion, and presently have some purple ones; both of which are absolutely gorgeous.
At R.D. Allen Freeport Jewelers, we display hundreds of pieces of Maine tourmaline jewelry, and also have separate sections of foreign tourmalines: tantalizing blues from Namibia, and the vibrant colors of Brazil.
If you visit Maine, there are mines in Oxford County where the public can dig for a small fee, but you will need your own tools. While gem grade crystals are rarely still found in public access mines, specimens of tourmalines are still uncovered ?with a little luck.
R.D. Allen Freeport Jewelers of Freeport, Maine, long-time authorities on Maine tourmaline, has been fortunate to garner thousands of carats of our "Maine state gem" over the years, and with them we have crafted extraordinary jewelry pieces which have become family heirlooms for our customers.
We invite you to view our tourmaline collection on our website, or at our store in downtown Freeport, where we are proudly beginning our 18th year.