Best of Maine Gem Mining
All the videos below were taken at the Havey gem mine in Maine. This mine has yielded a remarkably consistent green tourmaline called SparHawk Mint Green Teal.
The River of Gems
Sitting on the porch, 11am, reading the Sunday paper I could hear the landline ringing inside. Dashed to catch it, only to hear the last five words on the answering machine, “…thought you might be interested.” I knew who it was, and caught him before he hung up, “We hit a pocket yesterday afternoon” Jeff said.
“Compared to the Silver Dollar and the Ice Cream Sundae Pockets, what’s it like?” I asked.
“It’s bigger. It’s like a combination of the two pockets.”
Is it pretty? I asked.
“Yeah! The crystals are just rolling out of there. Be there at 4 o’clock”.
My son Stephen and I went up. An extra set of eyes, ears, and cameras is always valuable. He ended up with some of the best shots of the day. Great section of video from 2:20 to 4:45. Video taken July 7, 2013.
Ice Cream Sundae Pocket
It’s a small opening in the rock, just enough room for a hand to slip in. This pocket is filled with water, a puddle pocket. I sat at the edge of this pocket watching four guys taking turns reaching in and pulling handfuls of green crystals one after the another.
I said, “This is quite impressive. This is what I’ve always imagined gem mining would be like.” They all has a good laugh (1:40 in the video).
A while later, I took a turn. What I experienced surprised me. The best way to describe it was like reaching into a huge half-melted vanilla ice cream sundae. Following my turn, this is what I wrote:
“The opening is small, just barely big enough for a hand to fit. The edges of the opening are sharp, lined with small tourmaline crystals, lepidolite, and cleavelandite. The gray, chalky colored water was cool, comfortable. Reaching down and in halfway to my elbow, I can feel the talc-like smooth white clay. I can feel the crystals, all shapes and sizes embedded helter-skelter in the slippery white clay. I can feel the long smooth angularity of the lade-like crystals. I can feel the flat terminations and pointy terminations. Moving my hand around I can feel the clay dissolve and crystals drop in my hand. Pulling my hand to the surface, water and clay spill away and there, in first light, are green tourmaline, some with rose colored tips.”
White buckets filled with gray clay debris, like wet cement. Straining in a sieve reveals gem treasures. At the 6 minute mark I head into the pocket with my iPhone. Big Smokey quartz crystal, purple lepidolite, and of course gemmy green tourmaline crystals scattered within.
Named Fireworks because the mine owner was staying late at the mine site cleaning up and heard fireworks in the distance. On the drive home he could see the end of the fireworks show. August 2014.
Under the Road Pocket
Couldn’t believe it when he told us. Everyone was surprised…tourmaline pocket found under the road leading to the mine. In relocating the road this is what they discovered.
Sean, master gem cutter, pulls a large crystal (broken into three pieces) from the pocket. At the 5:00 mark, we skip ahead one year. Sean shows the gems he’s cut from the crystal. At 7:58, Sean talks with Ralph, of Cross Jewelers, about gem cutting details.
Blue Shift Pocket
A touch more blue, some with a red tip. This video has several highlights. Starts off clearing the top layer debris.
3:10, Sean, master gem cutter, pulls out fistfuls of clay pocket material.
5:00 – Gems in the sunlight.
8:10 – Jim, a geologist, talks about the basics of gem pocket composition and the types of specimens they are finding.
Tourmaline Color Shift
Same Crystal, Two Colors
Tourmaline has an attribute called Pleochroism. Depending on the direction of the light, the color of the crystal changes.
Maine Tourmaline vs. World Tourmaline
Sean, master gem cutter, talks about how Maine tourmaline compares to tourmaline found around the world.