Larimar is a rare variety of pectolite, found only in one location in the Dominican Republic. Larimar jewelry can be found in jewelry stores in the Caribbean, but it is usually difficult to find loose Larimar stones elsewhere in the world due to the limited supply.
Blue pectolite was apparently first found in the Dominican Republic in 1916 by Father Miguel Domingo Fuertes Loren. The story goes that he made a request to the Ministry of Mining to mine a blue rock he had discovered. Apparently, his request was not approved because no one knew what he was talking about.
It was not until 1974 that blue pectolite was rediscovered by a visiting member of the US Peace Corps, Norman Rilling, along with a local Dominican, Miguel Méndez. They found a significant supply of blue pectolite near the town of Los Chupaderos, a few kilometers from the City of Barahona in the southwest of the Dominican Republic. They named the stone after Méndez's daughter, Larissa, combined with the Spanish word for "sea" (mar). Indeed, Larimar's color does bear a striking resemblance to the color of the tropical Caribbean sea.
Gemologically, Larimar is hydrated sodium calcium silicate with manganese. Its color varies between white, light-blue, sky-blue, green-blue and medium-blue (also known as "volcanic blue"). It is a slightly soft stone with a hardness of 4.5 to 5 on the Mohs scale, approximately the same as apatite, sphene and turquoise. Larimar has a vitreous to silky luster.
Quality grading of Larimar is according to color; white is low quality and volcanic blue is the highest quality. Fine jewelry designs utilize stones between sky-blue and volcanic blue. Greenish specimens are also known but not well regarded, unless they are blue-green. Red inclusions in Larimar indicate traces of iron. It should be noted that pectolite is photosensitive, which causes the blue of Larimar to fade over the years if it is exposed to strong direct light. Larimar is usually cut as cabochons for rings, earrings, pendants and bracelets. It is not recommended for daily-wear rings due to its softness.
- First Published: March-24-2009
- Last Updated: July-02-2014
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