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 among the prettiest in the world. Faceted stones have secondary and tertiary hues. So, for example, a pink stone will flash cranberry, raspberry, plum, peach or a pastel pink; while greens can give off hues of pine, teal, federal blue, aqua and turquoise in some cases. Maine tourmaline unlike many other colored gemstones is almost never heat treated for color enhancement. It doesn’t respond well so it just isn’t done. Consequently, when you purchase a Maine tourmaline, the color is as natural as it is when the crystals come out of the mines.
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, some say the largest collection of Maine tourmaline jewelry they have ever seen. We also carry a beautiful selection of Brazilian and African tourmaline.
R.D. Allen Freeport Jewelers, under new ownership since 2006, 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 all over the country.