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  • Maine Tourmaline, A Ring Story
  • Post author
    Heather Perry

Maine Tourmaline, A Ring Story

Maine Tourmaline, A Ring Story

The Great State of Maine

If you’ve ever been here you may have noticed our abundance of natural beauty on land and at sea. You may have taken a boat trip over choppy waves to a remote rocky island, tasted the goodness of a clam bake on the beach or spotted a moose or two while hiking the majestic Katahdin. But something lies beneath all that nature and majesty, something far more spectacular…

Mt. Mica, where the first tourmaline was discovered in 1820

Mt. Mica, where the first Maine tourmaline was found in 1820

Among the hills of the western Maine town of Paris, a couple of amateur mineralogists found a brilliant green crystal at the foot of a fallen tree near Mt. Mica. The year was 1820, a very historic year for Maine; not only was Maine granted Statehood but the discovery of the green crystal tied our state to the finest quality gem tourmaline for evermore. Yes, 1820 was a very good year.



Since that first discovery, Maine tourmaline mines have produced over 3.5 million carats of gem quality tourmaline. Yes, I said THREE POINT FIVE MILLION-that’s a lot of sparkle! Now, like all natural resources, there is only so much to go around. The mines that produced the largest hauls in their heyday have either been picked clean or are way less productive, thus creating the current scarcity and premium monetary value of tourmaline found in Maine. If you are lucky enough to own a piece of Maine tourmaline, cherish it!

The Maine Tourmaline

Fast forward to 2016, in a small studio in Brunswick, Maine, an independent jeweler going by the name of Heather Perry {maybe you’ve heard of her} stumbles upon a brilliant green crystal. Well, actually, said crystal walks into her studio accompanied by a lovely woman named Karin.

Original setting of Karin's tourmaline

Karin had been gifted this beautiful Maine souvenir by her parents. She loves the stone but rarely wore it in the silver pendant setting as it was purchased. I could immediately understand her situation. The setting was not really doing much to enhance the inherent beauty of her amazing stone. In fact, it was not until we pulled it out of the nondescript silver setting that we noticed the dichroic {a gemstone with two colors visible at the same time} nature of her tourmaline, which is a highly desirable and pleasing quality in the jewelry world!

Sadly, this scenario is all too common with Maine tourmaline. Banking on the many tourists who want to own a piece of our state gem at a bargain price, many of these colorful beauties are plopped into uninspired, pre-made settings that do nothing to compliment their inherent color and radiance. Or worse yet, that setting is surrounded by a silver or gold silhouette of the state of Maine. Oy.

If you’ve visited our great state, you’ve probably heard that Mainers are known for their thrifty ingenuity, and it's true. Myself included. So it’s hard to point an aesthetically discerning finger at a fellow statesman for capitalizing on a good thing. And Maine tourmaline is definitely a good thing. But this Maine girl's gonna take the opportunity tweak those limited design sensibilities and place focus on the brilliant qualities of the tourmaline itself, at least in this one case.

The Ring

Truth be told, it’s not that difficult to focus beauty and brilliance on a thing that already possesses beauty and brilliance. So, my task on this project was fairly straightforward.

Beginning the the wax model for Karin's ring. Check out that green glow!!!

Karin wanted to use the stone to create a ring. She has a classy and understated style and likes smaller jewelry pieces. She also likes history and objects that reflect it. Based on these facts we decided to reset the stone at an east-west orientation in a slender, understated 18k yellow gold ring that looks a bit ‘ancient,’ like it might have been dug out of the earth.

Fitting the setting to the stone-everything must align perfectly!

I used wax to create a model of the ring in order to cast it in gold. This is known as the ‘lost wax’ casting method and is one of the oldest jewelry production techniques. It is also how I achieve control over the textures that characterize my jewelry. You can see in the photos the beginning stages of the wax carving as I am patiently creating the setting in the precise size and shape of the tourmaline.

How about that bright yellow 18k gold against the green luminescence of the tourmaline!? WOW, right? I kept the setting as minimal as possible, just a hint of gold at the top and a window on each side of the base to let the light pass through the stone from the bottom-so important to illuminate its vibrant greenness.

See that dark area? That's a dichroic tourmaline! This stone is amazing!

This stone is simply stunning; its green glow seems to radiate from within. And do you see the dark part toward the one side? That’s not a shadow; it’s the dichroic nature of the stone transitioning from dark forest green to a bright leaf green. So pretty and fresh like mossy earth on a Maine forest trail after a spring rain. Delicious.

If you have a Maine tourmaline or another brilliant gem you'd like to reset, let me know, I'd love to create a ring story with you! Email me at call me at 207-214-6382, follow me on Instagram @olivenightshade, 'like' my FB page Heather Perry Jewelry

Doesn't it look delicious like candy?!

Ok, just one more. Thanks for reading my blog. Bye for now, xo, H


  • Post author
    Heather Perry

Comments on this post (3)

  • May 02, 2017

    Nice Collections, Thank you for the tips.

    — United Gemco

  • Feb 20, 2017

    I am looking for a jeweler!!!!! Where are you based? I live in Robibinston.


    — Mary

  • Sep 25, 2016

    nice designs, my husband got my ring from, and no i know i can relate it’s story also.

    — Brandy

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