Many valuable gemstones and mineral specimens are found in Maine, and there are several day-use sites where you can dig for a variety of gems.
Most of the varieties of minerals that are found in Maine are found associated with granite pegmatites. Most of the mineralized areas will produce several different types of gems at the same sites. Searching through the old ore dumps of quarries and mines will often produce quality gems.
Below are a few of the most popular gems and minerals have been mined in Maine.
Tourmaline is easily the most valuable and popular mineral that is found in Maine. The state also has the distinction of having the first commercial mining operation in the United States. Located at Mount Mica, a high-quality variety is found tourmaline was found here along with many other collectable minerals that were mined from the pegmatites.
This source has been mined on and off for centuries, and rich pockets are still being mined. Mount Mica is still actively being mined, and access can be obtained by contacting either Poland Mining Camps or Maine Mineral Adventures. These companies operate pay-dig excursion at the mine where you can have the opportunity to mine a variety of different minerals.
There are numerous other areas where tourmaline has been mined throughout Maine. The areas with the most abundant minerals are in Oxford, Androscoggin, Cumberland, and Sagadahoc counties, where they are dug as a by-product of commercial mica and feldspar mines.
The most common variety of tourmaline found in Maine is black, but the highly prized gem quality pieces come in dark green, blue, pink, and watermelon. When cut into faceted gemstones, these are exceptionally beautiful and quite valuable for select pieces.
Many varieties of collector grade quartz can be found in Maine, including clear crystals, amethyst, smoky quartz, and rose quartz. Granite pegmatites produce these nice crystals, which are mined at many quarries throughout the state.
A deposit of high-grade amethyst was discovered at Eastman Quarry on Deer Hill in Stow.
High-grade beryl specimens are found at many pegmatite locations throughout western Maine. One noteworthy spot is the Bumpus Quarry in Oxford County. There have also been giant beryl crystals found that were huge, with one recorded discovery as large as 18 tons!
Beryl comes in a variety of colors, most commonly in shades of blue or green.
A variety of beryl called morganite that is a very bright orange color has been found in Maine. It has been nicknamed the “Rose of Maine”, and actually changes colors from orange to pink when exposed to sunlight.
Pegmatites and Associated Gemstones
Maine has over 200 gem and mineral varieties, making it one of the best states in New England to explore. The richest areas are almost always associated with the coarse-grained granite pegmatites that occur in the western parts of the state.
In addition to tourmaline, beryl and amethyst, collectors can also find topaz, chrysoberyl, kyanite, aquamarine, morganite, and garnets among many others.
Generally, the most productive pegmatites have been developed into quarries and mines already. Crystals can be found by sifting through old waste piles left behind from earlier mining operations.
New deposits can also be found by searching for pegmatite outcrops in the known mineral producing areas.
Although mineral collecting is prohibited within Maine State Parks, many lands are open to casual prospecting for minerals. Check with the appropriate land management agencies for updated information and laws pertaining to prospecting for gems and minerals in Maine.
Additionally, there are quite a few pay-to-dig sites in the state. A few of these include Western Maine Mineral Adventures, Creaser Jewelers, Poland Mining Camps, Bethel Outdoor Adventures, and Songo Pond, primarily located in western Maine.