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Home » Gemstones » Gemstone Mining in the United States » Maine Gemstones

Maine Gemstones and Gemstone Mining

The First Commercial Gemstone Mine

The first commercial gemstone mine in the United States operated by miners who were not Native Americans was at Mount Mica, Maine. There, a large deposit of tourmaline was discovered by children in 1820. Two years later a mine was opened and it yielded thousands of carats of gem-quality tourmaline crystals. Unfortunately, at that time the market for rough gemstones in the United States was almost undeveloped.

Gemstones as a Byproduct

Rough gem materials were regularly being purchased in the late 1800s by dealers in Boston and New York. By that time mica and feldspar were being mined from dozens of pegmatite deposits, mostly in Androscoggin, Cumberland, Oxford and Sagadahoc Counties. Gem-quality tourmaline and other gem minerals were often discovered while mining and gemstones became a byproduct of the mica and feldspar industries.

>> Places where you can find rocks & gems in Maine <<

World-Class Tourmaline and Other Gems

  North Carolina
Since then the pegmatite deposits of western Maine have produced many varieties of tourmaline, aquamarine, morganite, smoky quartz, rose quartz and amethyst. The three stones in the photo at right are very nice tourmalines from the Dunton Quarry, located in Oxford County.

Many world-class tourmaline specimens have been mined in Maine and the state has recognized tourmaline as its official state mineral. Many of the best tourmaline crystals have been sold as mineral specimens. Those with the highest clarity and color are sold as rough for cutting faceted gems and cabochons. Lower quality material is used to produce tumbled stones.

Schorl, the black tourmaline mineral, is the most common variety found in Maine. Green, blue, pink and watermelon (green and pink) stones have also been produced - mostly of the mineral elbaite.


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  Maine Tourmaline
Maine tourmaline
Three excellent tourmalines from the Dunton Quarry in Oxford County, Maine. Photo by Thuss Photography, used with permission of the Maine State Museum.

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