Moonstones in Maine
A Secret Beach
Ten, fifteen years ago I told my staff where Moonstone Beach was. No one was paying attention. That’s good because after we recently cut and polished a moonstone from this beach and then set it in white gold and surrounded it with diamonds everyone wanted directions to this secret beach.
It’s best no-one knows, so I don’t say, and I won’t tell. If the world knew, the beach would be overrun and forever changed.
I will be going back one of these days, to one of the two places in Maine I know where moonstones roll in the surf on sunny days and beneath star-filled skies on moonlit nights. I’m tempted to bring my row boat to go out beyond the breakers for a night row. No one knows where this beach is. I was sworn to secrecy by a jeweler friend. His motives were noble. He said, “Tell no-one. If they knew, people would come for the wrong reasons. They would stop seeing the ocean, stop seeing the waves on the shore. Adults would take over beach activities. Kids would be pushed aside.”
Here is the irony; kids already know there are gems on this beach. I’ve been there summer days. Kids are good scientists. They are close to the earth. They know things. They tell their parents about what they are finding. I listened in those three days that I was at Moonstone Beach as armies of fourth grade scientists were explaining to big people what was there, in rocks and mineral gems and gold and silver*. The kids might as well have said, “I just caught a two headed sea serpent, can I take it home?” Their parents humor them. The parents come to this beach oblivious to what’s really there. I have found gem garnet, pink tourmaline, and moonstone. I suspect the kids know more than I do.
So yes, when I go, I’ll bring my row boat, slide it out of the pickup, slip it into the sea one calm clear night at high tide when the moon is full, to row in Moonstone Cove. To glide over a tide-filled Moonstone Beach where hundreds of moonstones roll in the sands beneath the waves.
Nothing of what I have just said should give you reason to consider owning this pendant. The moonstones are not from Maine, but rather from India. The moon and moonstone is about power and pull, the give and take of our nearest celestial neighbor. The moon is about time and tides. The average human lifespan is 78 years which means we live a thousand full moons.
* The kids claimed gold and silver. I am certain they are mistaken I’m certain they are wrong, I am certain they were seeing flecks of silver and gold mica – but heck, I’m just a big person.
Moonstone Found At Moonstone Beach
I had spent several hours sitting on a rock on Moonstone Beach beneath the oak tree watching the waves, watching the beach. And I admit from time to time my mind wandered to the small rocks surrounding the big rock I was sitting on.
I picked up two rocks, one was about the size of my first. It had a promising clear section in it. I brought it home. I marked it with a black fountain tip pen and I gave it to Martin our gem cutter. Two days later he stopped back in. He said, “You know that Moonstone rock you gave me to cut? I was surprised.” I said, “Let’s see.”
I opened the gem paper and there was this little blue-white gem with a classic billowy white glow floating across the surface. It was the best Maine moonstone yet. Better than the first three I had cut. Still though, not fine enough to set into jewelry and offer for sale.
Shown above is our Maine moonstone from this secret beach . This moonstone is nice, the best in the world? Not at all, but it is moonstone from Maine never the less. Our moonstone diamond necklace is on display in our Portland, Maine store. You may touch, you may try on, but it’s not for sale.
Moonstone from Maine is not available in quantity or quality. For the finest moonstones, we source our gems from the other side of the world. Moonstones are magical with billowy light that floats within the gem.
How I Learned About Moonstone Beach
and Moonstone Bay
A gem miner once told me about a Maine beach that had moonstone, swore me to secrecy. No one talks about it, very few are even aware of it. Thousands come every summer to get the sun and play in the surf then go home oblivious to this gem that rolls in the surf beneath the waves. A young child picks up a moonstone to give to his mother. Mom thanks him. Puts it in her pocket, it dries out; she later tosses it back in the sand. Only a few know, even most of the locals are unaware.
I’ve cut a few moonstones from this beach, polished them up. They’re ok. Real moonstones…yes! They have that mysterious silver light that floats across and above the surface, fine gem potential…not really. The magic though, is that they are out there rolling in the surf everyday on Moonstone Beach and Bay.
Better ones are found on the opposite side of the earth in India. Moonstones that are clear silver white like the full moon. Moonstones that have a translucent glow, a mysterious light, that floats above and within and some even have an eye – a cat’s eye that our jewelers can show you how it can open and close, and if you’re cute the eye will even wink at you. After you have acquired your gem, if you have a cat’s eye be sure to show the children at home how your gem can wink.
We have adopted these Indian Moonstones as stand-ins for our own moonstones from Moonstone Beach and Moonstone Bay. Our collection changes with time. Moonstone Beach is not really its name. That’s what we call it. Where it is we can’t say, we were sworn to secrecy.
What I will say is that on this same beach in addition to moonstones, I found a white quartz with a trace of pink tourmaline and a very small, very fine gem red garnet. The beach is magic. Why keep this beach a secret? So that thousands can go and enjoy the sun, sand and surf. If they knew what was there their minds would wander away from the beach. There is a mystery beach in Maine. A sworn secret of Lunar Tides. Gems are found here.
March 19, 2016
White sand, crescent beach. It’s still winter, the last day. High thin clouds, filtered silver sun, breeze out of the East, off the ocean.
It’s three in the afternoon, sun low in the sky, light chop on the water, ocean is silver, glistening. The beach is a mystery, moonstones white, gray when cut with a rounded top, silver light floats across the top.
The beach is beautiful. It has white mica, black mica, and gold mica and a fresh water stream that runs down the beach. The black and gold mica flow with the stream and catches on rocks and swirls in pools glittering like silver and gold in the afternoon sun. Children notice these things. Adults walk on by, in deep thought or conversation and don’t notice. The beach is magic.
Two Days Later Reflecting on This trip
To Moonstone Beach
March 21, 2016
Piano notes move quickly. My candle flickers. The candle has boundaries and edges. We know not to get too close. It gives heat, it gives light and these are good. Touch never! There are consequences. Ocean on Sunday there was the water. It was cold. No intention of touching in March. On the last day of winter the thought of going into the water doesn’t even enter my mind. Finding the fresh water stream running down the beach following it up the grass line and then into the woods with logs washed in from winter storms partially blocking stream but creating an easy path across, care taken in the March air to not slip off the log. Water on both sides is a foot deep. This log and the water on either side is also an edge.
Later I find myself studying the stream as it fans out across the beach watching the gold colored mica flecks in the water swirl in puddles and reflect in the late afternoon sun. Stepping into the middle of the stream at first it was dry then I felt my foot sinking in the sand. Water rising around shoe, waiting for it to penetrate, waiting for the cold to seep in. Stepping away, certain the cold and wet will come but it doesn’t. I’ve learned something about these sneaker shoes. Surprised. Surprised as if I held my hand over the flame and felt no heat. I’m certain I would feel the heat of flame and the cold of winter water. Flames have consequences, March ocean water and fresh water streams do too.
Our world, our lives are defined by boundaries and edges. There I stood at this moment of mystery at a point of magic where land touches water and water touches land. I stood watching the small waves sweep ashore knowing what lies beneath. I was there searching for moonstones, to find them simply to prove to myself that they were still there rolling in the surf and to see if I could find the deeper story.
Candles don’t invite touch, gems do. Gems do such a good job of inviting us closer we carry them with us. Some stay with us all of our lives, some go on to be with our children and their children. What do I mean by touch and gem. I think if I knew and could really say or explain the magic of gems the world would be ready to stand in line to come to see and choose.
So let me go back to this beach and the gem that rolls in the surf and lies on the beach that even most locals don’t know about, actual moonstone, not jewelry gemmy but “low quality” real gem. What do I mean by “low quality”- it could be cut, polished, would show blueish-gray light hovering above the surface. Not good enough to market. Not good enough to mount, show or sell. And yet the magic is there.
While I was there this last day of winter I found a tiny gem red garnet and found a trace of pink tourmaline in quartz. Have never found gems on a beach in Maine only on this one. If I could understand and somehow articulate say it well, what it is, why do we draw gems near? Why do we keep them closer than pets or children, carry them around with us for lifetimes? Children become teens, and go away to college. Everything is moving, changing. Gems come to us from eternity, gems stay with us for a lifetime.
I’m a jeweler, I should know why gems hold such magic and have such a powerful draw. This is a clue, perhaps this beach and a gem not worth much of anything and yet is still a gem, something I go to see, and search for, gems rolling in the surf under the noon day sun and under the full moon. Why have I driven hours to come here? Understand this one gem, its beauty, its magic, its pull and I get closer to understanding all gems. That I have spent 40 years with gems and still feel I don’t yet fully understand what magic pulls us so deeply into them. I want to come back on an August night to stand in the surf beneath a full moon and feel the moonstones rolling about my toes.
This is not the image of a jeweler creating, making fine jewelry this is more a dreamer or poet looking and seeing more than what might really be there. I feel almost foolish to be so moved by a beach and the chance occurrence of gems that are found. I brought back a few moonstone pebbles. I will go back on a warm summer day with paper and pen to see if I can understand more. Why I am so captivated by this white sand beach, its gentle waves, and the gems that roll in its surf?
Moonstone Beach. Moonstone Bay
Sunday, August 21, 2016 2:56pm
I’ve been here three times, always in the winter. This is my first visit in summer. On my last visit I found moonstones, a tiny gemmy red garnet, and a trace of pink tourmaline. Never before had I seen tourmaline out of the ground anywhere except in Maine’s western mountains and never on a beach.
Moonstone Beach is a crescent-shaped white sand beach. One-hundred fifty people are on the beach today. It’s high tide. The crescent is bounded on the ends by rock, big grain granite, and feldspar. Moonstone is a type of feldspar.
If people knew there were gems here, even if only scant traces, tiny and low quality, it would distract from their experience of the water, the waves, the sand, and this idyllic setting.
I’m sitting on the south-east end of the beach. Sitting beneath an oak tree in the shade, the retreating tide is six feet away. The waves are small, more lake-like today than ocean.
The gems I have found have always been at low tide. Today I’m sitting at the high tide line and because I know, I scan the small rocks around the big rock I’m sitting on then I go back to writing. Then I look up to watch the people walking along the shore then glance again at the rocks below.
A little boy dressed in blue with a green fishnet is walking by with his parents. He just declared to his brother, “I’ve found silver. I’ve found silver.” I’m sure what he saw is mica. Most of the rocks here glitter with small flecks of silver-colored mica. There is a lot to explore here for kids. My sense of distraction, looking at rocks on this beach, confirms for me that the true name and location of this beach should never be revealed.
I realize I’m weaving a web of magic about this beach and then immediately saying, “I won’t tell you where it is.” Moonstone Beach and Bay are names I’ve given to this location. Locals won’t know it by that name. It’s not on any map. And although I haven’t asked, I suspect the locals are mostly clueless about gems being found on their beach.
I showed the stones I collected this spring to my staff. They were curious about where the beach is located. I told my staff where the beach was located years ago. It was clear they had not been paying attention because when I showed them the moonstones, garnet, and tourmaline they all wanted to know. My son wanted to know, and even my girlfriend said, “Certainly you can tell me, I won’t say a word about it.” She peppered me with questions: distance from Portland, is it close to ….?, is it near ……? I gave no clues. I think she’s trying to triangulate. Truly, it’s best that people don’t know so that they can stay focused on the sun, sand, waves, and water.
If anyone was ever likely to know, it’s the children, and I suspect they already do know. And, like me and my staff, I think the children have told their parents and the parents were not tuned in, they were simply not listening.
Marble Beach and Moonstone?
No, Not Really
October 9, 2016
Had business mid-coast on Muscongus bay. Stopped at a steep cliff and small pocket beach. Nancy said she would nap in the car while I explored. Found a man and a woman at the bottom of the cliff, another couple was at the further end of the beach throwing seaweed and rolling rocks around.
The couple nearest to me said “hi” as I stepped off the cliff edge. I asked if they had found anything interesting. He said, “Marbles.” I said, ‘what?” He said, “Marbles.” I said, “Really? I can’t imagine there being marbles on such a rocky beach.” He said, “We’ve found 16 today.” I said, “That’s amazing! How did the marbles get here?” He said, “Well, it started years ago with an aunt and a challenge- if anyone found a marble on this beach, she would buy them a lobster dinner. We’ve been coming here for years.” “But how do the marbles get here?” I asked. “We seed the beach,” he said, “Then we come back two or 3 times a year to hunt.” Eventually marbles became so common, the prize became an ice cream cone and no lobster, then even the ice cream went away too. Now we come to hunt, just to hunt.” I said, “You found 16 today, could I see them?” He said, “Sure.”
The other couple was still tossing seaweed, pawing through the rocks at the far end of the beach. We walked down to where they were. They had a small plastic Hannaford shopping bag. He opened it up and there were the marbles. Some smooth marbles, some very worn. I said, “Could I take a picture?” My guy said “Sure.”
My guy said, “Now why have you come to this beach?” I said, “I’m looking for moonstones.” My guy said, “We’ve found moonstones on this beach too.” I said, “You have?” He called to his brother in-law and said, “You found a moonstone on this beach right?” The brother in-law said, “No, that was Bailey’s Island.” I said, “Really!” They described how big it was and how with a flashlight underneath, the whole stone glowed.
The geology of mid-coast Maine is right and ripe for moonstone. I have found moonstones in the granite and big feldspar in several places along the mid-coast. We’ve cut and polished four Maine Moonstones. I’m a bit skeptical though, of a moonstone the size of a small apple, but heck anything is possible.
I did think this group of 4 adults out hunting marbles on a Maine beach was kind of fun and an interesting story.
A Couple with Moonstones
Last year, 2018 a couple stopped in the store. They said they had moonstones from a beach in Maine. We went into a private room to sit with them. Moonstones, yes. They were big, cloudy, and grey. We didn’t have an interest. The moonstones weren’t from my beach. They were a different type, but certainly interesting and evidence that perhaps there are many moonstone locations along the coast.
Another Coastal Moonstone Clue
May 14, 2019 another gem miner jeweler friend called this morning on a jewelry matter. Then he too brought up a beach where he had found moonstone. It was a different beach from all the others. What this says to me, is when you go to the beach here in Maine, go for the wind and waves, watch for sailboats out on the water, and be watching in the shallows for a glint of gem color. And of course you could visit our store Monday through Friday in downtown Portland to see the full display of Maine gems set in jewelry.
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Our goal is to have proper gem and essential design information on each piece we show and present. Following the essentials, we may have back stories, a “Story Behind the Story” – including people, places, technical gem information, revelations of gem discoveries, and notes on our jewelry design and inspiration. And some things we’ve only a name and no description…we’re working on that.
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Orders Under $1,000 – Free shipping via FedEx (allow 4 business days). You can upgrade to overnight delivery for $20.
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