Larimar Gemstone Information
About Larimar - History and Introduction
Larimar is a trademarked name for a rare blue, gem-quality variety of the mineral pectolite. Pectolite is normally gray in color and is actually not that rare, occurring in many locations around the world. But blue Larimar is found only in one location in the entire world - the Dominican Republic. Gemologically, blue Larimar is a hydrated sodium calcium silicate with manganese. Its distinct blue color is owed to calcium being replaced by copper impurities. The composition of Larimar is often mixed with other materials such as calcite and hematite. Its color can vary from white to light-blue, and from medium sky to volcanic blue.
The history of Larimar is based on many legends and stories. Although Larimar is commercially a relatively new gemstone, Dominican ancestors have long-prized the Caribbean gem. Stories of its first discovery claim that it was found by Father Miguel Domingo Fuertes Loren in 1916 in the Dominican Republic, but then later forgotten about - up until its more recent 'rediscovery' in 1974 by Miguel Méndez, a local Dominican, and Norman Rilling, a visiting US Peace Corps volunteer. Together, they named the stone after Méndez's daughter 'Larissa' by combining the first letters of her name 'Lari' with 'mar', the Spanish word for 'sea'. Today, blue Larimar is very popular throughout the Caribbean, but it is extremely rare to find it anywhere else.
Identifying Larimar Back to Top
Larimar is an acid silicate hydrate of sodium and calcium. It is colored by copper, which distinguishes it from other forms of pectolite. Minor traces of iron and potassium may also be present. Most Larimar forms with clusters of needle-like inclusions, often resulting in a slight simple chatoyancy, similar to charoite or pietersite. It has a hardness of 4.5 to 5 on the Mohs scale, approximately the same as apatite, sphene and turquoise. When polished, it exhibits an attractive silky luster. Due to its distinct pattern and colors, there are really no other gemstones commonly mistaken for rare blue Larimar.
Larimar Origin and Gemstone Sources Back to Top
The only known source of blue Larimar is the Filipinas Mine in Los Checheses, located in the Dominican Republic. Larimar deposits surface as hot gasses push crystallized minerals up through the volcanic chimneys or tubes. In most cases, miners must dig deep into the volcanic tubes in search of deposits, but in some cases, it may also be found as sediment on the shores of the Caribbean, washed up as alluvial deposits carried down by the Bahoruco River.
Buying Larimar and Determining Larimar Value Back to Top
Larimar Gemological Properties: Back to Top
Please refer to our Gemstone Glossary for details of gemology-related terms.
Larimar: Related or Similar Gemstones: Back to Top
Larimar is sometimes referred to as 'Stefilia's stone' or the 'Caribbean Stone'. It has such a distinct color and pattern that very few gemstones could be confused with it. Turquoise or dyed howlite could present possibility for confusion. Other than common pectolite, there are no other closely related gemstones available on the market today. Some of the more common gem and mineral associations include prehnite, hematite, calcite and serpentine. Calcite and hematite are often found as inclusions within deposits of Larimar stone.
Larimar Metaphysical and Crystal Healing Properties Back to Top
Larimar is also known as 'the Atlantis stone', based on old legends which claim that the Dominican Republic was once part of the lost city of Atlantis. This association makes Larimar very important in the world of metaphysical gems. It is believed that the energy of Larimar can help to enhance spirituality and communication. It is a stone which is able to sooth emotions, cool tempers and alleviate stress, bringing a feeling of calmness to its wearer. Larimar works with all chakras, but its vibration is thought to be best for the heart, crown and throat chakras. It is associated with the element of water, much like its color, though it was formed with volcanic roots. Physically, blue Larimar is thought to be able to help with throat and cardiac disorders, and it is also good for blood pressure and alleviation of joint and arterial pain.
Larimar Jewelry Design Ideas Back to Top
Larimar is an extremely rare gemstone. It is also quite soft, so its use in jewelry is limited. It is very popular for jewelry in the Dominican Republic where it is mined, and elsewhere in the Caribbean. Most Larimar is set into silver, although some extremely high quality materials may be set with yellow or white gold. Most Larimar designs take into account its fragility, and utilize well-protected settings and mountings; i.e., inlay, bezel and channel set.
Pendants, bangles and bracelets are very popular, followed by earrings and various beaded designs. Larimar is not ideal for rings, but if worn occasionally and with care, a Larimar ring can make a stunning accessory.
Note: Buy colored gemstones by size and not by carat weight. Colored stones vary in size-to-weight ratio. Some stones are larger and others are smaller than diamond by weight in comparison.
Larimar Gemstone and Jewelry Care Back to Top
Larimar is rather soft and fragile compared to most jewelry gemstones. It also has a brittle tenacity and perfect cleavage which requires extra care when cleaning and storing. Be sure to avoid harsh chemicals and cleaners as Larimar can be corroded by mineral acid. Avoid strong heat and sunlight in order to prevent color loss. You can wipe down your stones using a soft cloth. When cleaning, use only warm water and a mild soap or detergent if needed. Be sure to rinse well to remove any excess soapy residue.
Always remove any Larimar jewelry before engaging in any vigorous physical activities, such as sports, exercise or household chores. When storing Larimar gemstones, store them seperately and away from other gems and jewelry to prevent scratches and fractures. It is best to wrap your gems using a soft cloth and place them in a fabric-lined jewelry box.
- First Published: February-12-2014
- Last Updated: October-07-2014
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