Pala Chief History. Your Hosts. Sign up to Dig! The Miner's Inn. Pala Chief Blog. Photo Gallery. Contact Us. Welcome Welcome to the Pala Chief Mine! Located in beautiful Pala, California the Pala Chief is one of the oldest gem mines in San Diego County, and is one of the only historic mines still being actively worked in the hunt for American gemstones.
The deposits here were discovered in Mayand the mine produced large amounts of tourmaline, most of which was shipped to China for the carving trade.Unearthing a 7lb Georgia Aquamarine
It was also the primary discovery site of the purple gem variety of spodumene known as kunzite, and the first true source of gem-quality kunzite. Significant quantities of kunizte were mined from the Pala Chief and much of it went to Tiffany's to be cut into fine gemstones.
Even today, the kunzite from Chief Mountain is considered by many to be the finest in the world. Currently the mine is being assessed and updated with plans to fully develop it in the search for gemstones and mineral specimens for the collector. The Pala Chief Mine is owned by Oceanview Mines, LLC and is not open to the general public except for special fee digs held in the cooler fall, winter and spring months. If you want to screen for gems, Oceanview Mines has a regular fee dig that allows the public to screen through the dump material from the Oceanview Mine.
You can learn more about that fee dig at www.Tourmaline is one of the most attractive minerals occurring in Maine. It ranges in color from black or white to vibrant shades of red, green, and blue.
The color of the best Maine specimens rivals that of tourmaline from world-famous localities in California, Brazil, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Individual crystals range from opaque to transparent and may be single or multi-colored. There is even a "watermelon" variety with a green outer layer surrounding a pink core. Transparent crystals that are clear enough to yield faceted gemstones are highly prized, while lesser grades of this durable mineral are tumble-polished for use in various kinds of jewelry.
Well-formed tourmaline crystals in their natural state are also sought by mineral collectors. Tourmaline is actually a group of several different minerals which have similar crystal structures, but complex and variable chemical formulas. The exact species of tourmaline is determined by which of a number of possible elements are present.
The most common species in Maine is schorl, a black, iron-bearing tourmaline. The colorful, but less common, species found in Maine is elbaite, named after the island of Elba, Italy.
Tourmaline occurs as lustrous, elongate crystals which commonly have a rounded triangular cross section and narrow grooves running parallel to their long direction. The crystals range in size from microscopic to over a foot long. The best examples in Maine are found in a very coarse-grained type of granite called "pegmatite. The black tourmaline crystals and many of the brightly colored ones are usually encased in the surrounding rock. However, conditions in some places favored the development of open cavities in which elbaite crystals grew with greater perfection and clarity.
These pegmatite "pockets" are the source of Maine's finest gem tourmalines. The first major tourmaline discovery in Maine occurred in at Mount Mica in Paris. The famous story of the discovery by two boys exploring the local countryside was related by Augustus Hamlin in his book entitled "The History of Mount Mica. The Hamlin Necklace, containing fine tourmalines of various colors from this quarry, can be seen in the Harvard University Mineralogical Museum.
Many other tourmaline deposits have been found in Maine over the years. Sharp crystals of black tourmaline are widespread in pegmatites of Oxford, Androscoggin, Sagadahoc, and Cumberland Counties. The colored crystals occur mainly in Oxford County and the Auburn-Poland area. It is curious that the best gem-producing localities lie on a straight line extending southeastward through this part of the state.
In a spectacular series of large tourmaline pockets was opened at the Dunton Mine in Newry. Hundreds of pounds of red and green crystals were found, including the "Jolly Green Giant," a inch crystal now in the collection of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D. The chain of this necklace was made from gold nuggets panned from the Swift River in Byron. Large discoveries of gem tourmaline like those mentioned above are rare indeed, but mineral collectors still make occasional finds of nice crystals in the rock piles around pegmatite quarries.
Pieces of pink, green, blue, or watermelon tourmaline can be found at places such as the Dunton Mine, Mt. Mica, or Black Mountain Rumford. Collecting is usually allowed at these localities for a small fee. Cut tourmaline gems and crystal specimens are displayed in museums and can be purchased from jewelers or mineral dealers.
King and E. Foord,Maine Geological Survey, p. King,Maine Geological Survey, p. Gem Tourmaline Rediscovered at Newry, by D. McCrillis,Mineralogical Record, v.Log in to get trip updates and message other travelers. Himalaya Mine 25 Reviews. Sorry, there are no tours or activities available to book online for the date s you selected.
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What travelers are saying 3. I had been to this dig about 9 years ago and had such a great time and found some nice specimens, that I decided to fly out here again. We first wanted to try a new dig but then I decided to go back t No color was found, not even in very small specks.
Had a great time. Hard work, but lots of excitement when we found quartz crystals, tourmaline, aquamarine crystals, and other gems! Read all 25 reviews. Full view. Best nearby. Lake Henshaw Cafe. Josie's Hideout Saloon. Lake Henshaw Resort. Write a review. Traveler rating. Traveler type. Time of year.Learning Center What is a mineral? Mineral Name:. Locality Name:. Keyword s :. Tourmaline Sponsorship for this page has expired!
Photos of Tourmaline Tourmaline Gallery Search Photos of Tourmaline. Schorletc. Shigar District, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. Elbaiteetc. Paprok, Kamdesh District, Nuristan, Afghanistan. Hide all sections Show all sections. This section is currently hidden. Click the show button to view. Note: In the formulas of the group members, we have put the D site cations in parentheses in order to facilitate the assignment of the different cations to the crystallographic sites.
Name: Reported by Christianus-Fridericus Garmann in The name "tourmali" was a generic name used in Ceylon [Sri Lanka] for colored gems, mostly zircons. Aboutit had been discovered by Dutch lapidaries that some of the "zircons" arriving in the Netherlands were actually a previously undescribed mineral. Several names were given to the new mineral including "Pierre de Ceylan, by Lemery in Tourmalin, as a more or less specific mineral name, was used by Rinmann in Hill called it Tourmaline Garnet in and Richard Kirwan shortened the name to "Tourmaline" in Tourmaline synonymous with tourmaline group comprises trigonal borosilicates of the cyclosilicate superclass.
The nomenclature was revised by Henry et al. Notes on the general formula: - Additional cations are reported substituting in minor amounts for the principal cations of the G and D sites. The structure for the group is one in which SiO 4 tetrahedra are linked into six-membered rings having a hexagonal pattern and are stacked up with intervening distorted triangular BO 3 groups, linked by D site cations; the SiO 4 tetrahedra are linked vertically by G site cations and X site anions, while the columns are linked horizontally by both D site cations and X site anions.
The A site cations and the Z site anions occupy the channels down the centre of the columns or the A site may be vacant. Additionally, tetrahedral boron  B may be present in both natural and synthetic tourmalines Kutzschbach et al. Luinaite- OH represents a monoclinic pseudo-rhombohedral distorted variant space group Cm of the tourmaline structure. Unnamed triclinic variants have also been reported. Color change, from deep-green to dark-red, with an increasing path length of light, occurring in Cr-bearing tourmalines, is known as the Usambara effect.
Visit gemdat. Crystal System:. Crystal Atlas:. Click on an icon to view. In: V.We are very pleased to announce that we are the exclusive dealer of new Maine Tourmalines from the world famous Mount Mica Tourmaline mine, located right here in Paris, Maine. We have a large selection of cut stones and jewelry in stock now and plan to increase it as well as offer some of the beautiful mineral specimens also being produced.
In the late fall oftwo college students, Elijah Hamlin and Ezekiel Holmes were returning home from a mineral prospecting trek through the rolling terrain on the outskirts of Paris Hill in Oxford County Maine. Though the venture had been fruitless, the scenery was breathtaking and as the two young men turned to watch the sunset, a glint of green winked at them from the roots of an upturned tree.
Upon investigating, they were amazed to find a stunningly beautiful crystal loose in the dirt. They hurriedly claimed it as the last of the suns rays disappeared behind the mountains and resolved to return the next day to look for more.
That night, the first major snowstorm of the season blanketed the entire region that night with snow, postponing their search until Spring. After an endless winter, Spring finally arrived and as the woods finally cleared of snow, the two men rushed back to the spot. Returning to the uprooted tree, they began to search for more crystals and noticed an outcropping of ledge some distance beyond it. The sight that greeted them was the stuff of fairy tales: A rainbow had apparently splash landed on the rocks in front of them.
Green and pink crystals of all sizes nestled in glittering cavities or lay loose on masses of sparkling white and purple minerals. The two spellbound students collected as many specimens as they could carry and staggered back to town where they displayed them to the villagers.
The result was predictable, an anthill of activity as people flocked to the location and began searching for more of the lovely crystals.
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But what were the crystals? No one knew at first. Mount Mica the name the locals had given the area was the first source of Tourmaline in the United States and would become the first gem mine in America as well. Sporadic amateur mining continued for many years until when Elijah Hamlin and his son Augustus began a more serious mining venture.
During their endeavor, many beautiful gem tourmalines were found. Tiffany and Co. Morgan also purchased numerous crystals and made frequent donations to museums such as The American Museum of Natural History. A selection of some of the finest of these gemstones found their way into Hamlin Necklace picturedone of the most famous pieces of American gemstone jewelry.
InMount Mica was leased by Loren Merril pictured, in a gem pocket. The next 23 years saw many wonderful tourmaline discoveries, including a crystal which was faceted into a Other fabulous finds included a pair of gem nodules ultra-clear rounded crystal sections weighing carats and carats as well as many smaller crystals.
Tourmaline: Maine's State Mineral
Though his success was not as great as Merril's, Irish did find nice material, including several thousand carats of lovely green Tourmaline. Armed with more knowledge and experience, Perham had considerably more luck, adding to the list of significant Maine Tourmalines, a 25 carat emerald-cut gem and a stunning Plumbago Mining Corp.
Ina grapefruit sized pocket was uncovered. Within this tiny cavity, a mammoth crystal of green Tourmaline lay. It would later be cut into a flawless emerald-cut gemstone weighing carats, a national record for Tourmaline. Mining resumed in and culminated with a trio of mint green nodules weighing 16 carats, 24 carats and 60 carats.
In August, mining began with the removal of overburden in the western portion of the mine. Immediately, pockets began to show and some beautiful quartz and apatite crystals were found in them. Seasoned with years of successful mining at other Maine localities and equipped with the best mining machinery, Coromoto began to uncover pocket after pocket, each containing wonderfully diverse colors of gem Tourmaline- some colors in fact, that had never before been found at this mine including electric pink and light greenish blue.
InCoromoto began mining in a new direction and only went few dozen yards before they found the largest tourmaline pocket ever encountered at Mount Mica.View Basket. Colorado 4. A rare find from Colorado. It is an interesting Rubellite with yellow and brown ru… More info.
Tourmaline History and Lore
There are a cluster of tourmaline crystals up to 4. Moving bac… More info. Quartz var. Out of an old collection, is this interesting specimen of tourmalated quartz. I cannot say I have not seen another like it before. The quartz growth was altered by the tourmaline and lepidolite in such a way as to make these s… More info. California Tourmaline Crystals These crystals range from full terminated specimens, to pieces for cutting, cabbing or wrapping.
There is rubellite, indicolite, watermelon, reverse watermelon, bi-colo… More info. Now is your chance to add it to your collection. Tourmaline is un… More info. It has not had any work done to it other than a good washing. If it were to have some work done to it of expose the crystals better, it could be turned into an even more impressive specim… More info.
Here is an amazing specimen of Tourmaline from a not so common locale. This is a large cluster of beautiful pinkish purple crystals with a odd iridescence running through most of the crystals, give the crystals a very interesting shimmer.
One side of the specimen is nicely peppered wit… More info. Here is one of the oddest tourmaline growths I have seen. This is a large Out of the top termination it reminds me of something out of the Movie "Alien".
Growing out of the top termination is a curved, fiberous tourmaline growth that reminds me of maybe a worm or creature coming out. Very strange … More info. Here is a rather large Smoky Quartz crystal, when back lit has a citrine look to it. When the quartz was forming, it did so around four tourmal… More info.
Tourmaline Parcel, Brazil Out of an old collection, most likely from the 's, is this parcel of different varieties of tourmaline from Brazil from different mines. Although there are just a few piece of schorl, most crystals are transparent.
Many are dark greens and there is one dark purple. S… More info.Rare Gems and Minerals in Maine 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 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. Quartz Crystals 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. Beryl 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. Pegmatites and Associated Gemstones Maine has over 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.