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 is that he made a request to the Ministry of Mining to mine for a blue rock he had discovered. His request was not approved, the story runs, 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). Larimar's color does bear a striking resemblance to the color of the tropical Caribbean sea.
Gemologically, larimar is a 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 is according to color: white is low quality, volcanic blue the highest quality. High quality jewelry utilizes stones between sky-blue and volcanic blue. Greenish colorations are also known but not well regarded, unless blue-green. Red colored inclusions in Larimar indicate traces of iron. It should be noted that pectolites are photosensitive, which causes the larimar to lose its blue coloration over the years if exposed to strong 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: October-08-2010
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