© 2010 Jeffrey A. Scovil


BETHEL — When exploring the Maine Mineral & Gem Museum, one might notice the jewelry store is equally as busy as the museum. Packed with everything from necklaces with a time-turner filled with actual stardust, to rings with fine gems, it’s equally as impressive as the fact-filled museum.

The museum is bursting with rare finds, such as a skull carved from a meteorite to a smoky quartz specimen that is still intact after 100 years.

But what’s interesting about the jewelry is it comes from the minerals seen in the museum. Beginning in September, the Maine Mineral & Gem Museum is calling all artists to come forward so that 12 may be selected to bring forth their original ideas for jewelry using iconic tourmaline — Maine’s state mineral.

Rewind. Tourmaline. What is it?

Tourmaline is a mineral, also classified as a semi-precious stone. It is notably black, but can range from green, blue, violet, and pink, with a spectrum of color hues in between.


Augustus Choate Hamlia, M.D., of Manger, Maine was said to be the first tourmaline expert, in the late 1800s. Then, in October 1972, one of the largest tourmaline finds in history was discovered, right here in Maine, at Plumbago Mountain in Newry.

It was known as “The Big Find.”

To mark the 50th anniversary, the museum is showcasing a dozen original pieces crafted to exemplify the picturesque tourmaline stones. The pieces will be previewed down the road, and will be offered for purchase on Oct. 13, 2022.

The museum invites artists to share the story of the gemstones through their own art.

“The artist selection process will be conducted by a panel of artists, community members and industry professionals. Gems will be selected for each artist at random by lottery,” according to a press release from the Maine Mineral & Gem Museum. The contest is called, “The Big Find: The Legend Continues.”

For a submission form, email Museum Store Manager Maggie Kroenke at mkroenke@mainemineralmuseum.org. Deadline for submission is Sept. 1.

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