For Immediate Release
July 17, 2006
L. Allen Brown
Gemologist - GIA
All That Glitters
Methuen, MA - All That Glitters recently sold a slice of Maine History, a watermelon slice to be more exact, but this watermelon slice was not edible. This slice was millions of years old and grew in a pocket of molten elements, eventually forming a natural crystal of what we now call the mineral Tourmaline. Depending on the elements present during growth, it is sometimes possible for the crystal to have different colors. Some, when sliced across the crystal, may have a deep pink or red center surrounded by a green rind, and therefore, resembles a watermelon. This particular slice was originally described and photographed on the front page of the Business News in the Lawrence Eagle Tribune back in February of 1993. Carl Francis, curator of the Harvard Mineralogical Museum, had viewed the slice at that time and felt it was the finest he had seen. This was not only due to the fine deep pink and the clarity, but also due to the fact that it was thick, ranging from approximately 6-8mm. Most slices are cut thinly to obtain as many slices as possible from a crystal. Though more slices may be produced, the depth of color suffers and the integrity of the slice can be compromised. All That Glitters' watermelon slice weighs a phenomenal 500cts and those experts in the trade can determine, and rightly so, that this special piece came from the state of Maine, during that timeframe in history when a great discovery was made. That year was 1972.
The story of gem Tourmaline in New England begins in Paris, Maine, 1820, when two young boys were hiking down a local mountain. As the sun set, a gleaming crystal was discovered. The boy's efforts to return the following day were hampered by a thick snow fall that night. Many months later, they returned to find more crystals. News of the discovery spread - the recovered crystals were identified as Tourmaline, and major museums began to send representatives to the area. Over the next several decades, many mining efforts were begun and abandoned. During that timeframe however, many fine specimens and gem rough were unearthed.
One hundred and fifty-two years later, another discovery would "rock" the gemstone and mineral trade. The location was Plumbago Mountain, the old Dunton Quarry in Newry, Maine. A small group of mineral collectors hit a series of small pockets of Tourmaline in August of 1972. They leased the property and continued their prospecting, uncovering major pockets in October. This was to become the largest discovery of gem Tourmaline in the world, consisting of many variations of colors never seen before. This site became famous for watermelon, deep pink, pink, red, pastel green, blue green, bicolors (two colors in one gemstone or crystal) as well as many other variations. In a diary kept by one of the miners, he wrote "the rubble is so rich in Tourmaline that it is now taking two to three people in the outside of the pocket working all the time to pick out the smaller tourmalines from the other material. There is so much material to be sorted that at the end of the day, anywhere between fifteen and twenty bags of unsorted pocket material are to be sorted at some future date. These bags are used grain bags and weigh any where from one hundred fifty to two hundred pounds when we get them filled." More than one metric ton was stored in the vault of the Casco National Bank. The largest crystal measured approximately 11in x 4in and was nicknamed the Jolly Green Giant. It is housed at the National Museum of Natural History. Many of the exceptional crystals were the size of soda cans and some of these were also watermelon crystals. These "logs", as some called them, were sliced like bread and polished so that the deep pink centers surrounded by the green rind could be seen. All That Glitters' slice was cut from one of these "logs".
All That Glitters' 500ct watermelon slice is destined to be housed in "...a fabulous collection of Maine minerals and gems. This exceptional museum quality collection will be permanently preserved and on public display within 2-4 years."