Maine Mineral Symposium features top state gem

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AUGUSTA — One of the finest tourmaline specimens ever found at one of Maine’s premier mine sites will be featured at the 22nd annual Maine Mineral Symposium.

The unique crystal, representative of Maine’s state gemstone, will be part of a presentation on recent mineral discoveries at Mt. Mica in Paris Hill, said Thompson, symposium organizer and Maine Geological Survey physical geologist.

The symposium on May 13-15 at the Senator Inn on Western Avenue will honor one of Maine’s most foremost gem miners, Frank Perham of West Paris, who has been called “a legendary Maine pegmatite miner.”

The annual symposium is not a commercial rock show, but rather an educational forum, Thompson said. There are talks on Maine and international mineralogical experiences, exhibits by gem and mineral dealers from around New England and  field trips to noted Maine sites.

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On Saturday, mine owner and operator Gary Freeman, in conjunction with the Maine State Museum, will discuss recent discoveries made at Mt. Mica, “the most prolific tourmaline-producing mine in Maine,” Thompson said.

Freeman’s recent finds include multicolored tourmalines, including “a big gemmy crystal perched on quartz crystal,” one of the best examples of Maine tourmaline to be found recently, Thompson said.

Another talk on Saturday morning will focus on the Mt. Marie Quarries in Paris and feature their history, geology and finds made there. Dennis Durgin, who is mining the site, is expected to discuss some of the rare minerals he has found, including unique, sapphire blue-colored tourmaline.

Several talks will focus on international topics, including Thompson’s own experience visiting mines and mineral collections in Cornwall, England, and a talk on pegmatites in Argentina by Karen Webber of the University of New Orleans. Well-known mineralogical author Van King will discuss his new book, “Nature’s Garden of Crystals.”

 The symposium will also feature a silent auction. For more details, visit www.maine.gov/doc/nrimc/mgs/explore/minerals/symposium.htm

This 139-carat tourmaline crystal was mined recently by Dennis Durgin at Mt. Marie in Paris.

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