From super-premium potato vodka to an exquisite tourmaline necklace, fancy goods from Maine will be showcased at events during the presidential inauguration.
Maine first lady Karen Baldacci will wear the Maine Tourmaline Necklace, a 52-carat tourmaline necklace, when she ball-hops on Tuesday night after President-elect Barack Obama is sworn in to office.
“It is beautiful, it truly is,” Baldacci said Thursday in a telephone interview. “It’s special. It’s from Maine. It represents the best of Maine — both in terms of craftsmanship and tourmaline. I’m honored to wear it.”
The Maine Retail Jewelers Association presented the necklace, with tourmaline from the big 1972 Newry find, to the state of Maine in 1977. It features a 24-carat pink tourmaline dangling from the center and pink, green and blue-green tourmaline accents.
Jeweler Jim Vose of Lincoln is looking forward to getting a photograph of the necklace in action at the inauguration. He was instrumental in creating the necklace in the 1970s and is sorry that Addison Saunders, the Ellsworth goldsmith who crafted it, passed away in November.
Vose, 81, just published a book about the necklace, “The Crown Jewels of Maine.”
“We’re proud that the necklace will be in Washington,” Vose said. “There’s very few states that can accomplish what we did with the gemstones.”
Custom seamstress Sandi McKeen’s eyes will be on what’s under the necklace — Karen Baldacci’s gown. The Stockton Springs couturier made the brown silk velvet dress for the first lady’s first inaugural ball for her husband.
“I see pictures of her in the things I’ve created with really important people, and that’s neat,” she said. “I’m happy that they’ve all been in Washington. I wish I could go with them.”
Chris Dowe, the head distiller of Cold River Vodka in Freeport, said he has high hopes for his spirits. The company’s blueberry and classic vodkas will be drunk at the Maine luncheon at the New Zealand Embassy on Monday.
“I hope that it helps us in Washington. We’ve been on sale in Washington for a few months, and its not an easy area to get into,” Dowe said. “I’m hoping this will just help us continue to get our name out there.”
Potatoes for the vodka come from Fryeburg and Aroostook County, he said, and although the company is “tiny,” it’s growing. This inaugural nod can’t hurt, he said.
“It’s really great to have them think of us at such an important part of history,” Dowe said. “You don’t expect this kind of thing.”