History of Larimar
It is likely that the Taino Indians who inhabited the Island for a thousand years before Columbus arrived knew of Larimar, but it was not until 1916 that the first official records existed. A Spanish missionary was in the area looking for gold and other precious resources that could be exploited and there are records of him requesting permission from the Dominican Government to explore the area. However, it is unclear what he knew and when he was sent back to Spain. There is no more mention of the stone until the 1950s.
How was larimar discovered?
In 1957, the inhabitants of a small fishing village were finding fragments of a blue gemstone, we now know as larimar, washing up on the local beach. It was believed that the larimar stones came from the sea and it took another 20 years for anyone to be interested enough to investigate this further.
As people became aware of the beauty of larimar and started using it, the villagers set out to find the origins and followed the river upstream for a few days. They tried several tributaries until they eventually found small outcroppings of the blue rock which we now know is the only known Larimar Deposit in the world.
In 1974 samples of larimar were sent by a Peace Corp volunteer to several geologists includingthe Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC. It was only after their analysis that larimar was found to be a previously unknown member of the Pectolite family.
How was larimar named?
Miguel Mendez was one of the early artisans using larimar and he named the beautiful material larimar after his daughter, “LARISSA”, and the Spanish word for sea, “MAR”.There are other names which have been applied to Larimar, for example “the Atlantis stone”and “ the dolphin stone”, both of which are intriguing and both represent different characteristics of this unique gemstone which we will go into later.
Where is larimar found?
Larimar deposits have been found in only one place in the world. A remote mountain range on the island of Hispaniola. The total surface area of the larimar deposits is thought to cover less than a single square mile.
It is unknown why larimar only formed in this one location, but the mountain range was formed by tectonic plates pushing against one another, so the region was very volcanically active and it was most likely a unique volcanic event that led to the formation of larimar.
How was Larimar formed?
It is thought that larimar was formed by super hot mineral rich fluid being forced into cracks and fissures formed by tectonic activity. As the fluid in these cavities cooled, small crystalline nuclei called spherulites formed. As the fluid continued to cool the spherulites mixed and eventually coalesced into a gel which eventually hardened into larimar.
Studies have shown that fine elongated needles indicate that rapid cooling occurred. However, the larger grains in the white areas indicate that more fluid entered the void and cooled at a slower rate. The broken and bent needles at the interphase also provide evidence that the two different areas cooled at slightly different rates.
Today those cracks and fissures form the prized larimar veins that the miners spend years searching for. When a vein is found, the host rock must be cut open to reveal what is inside. It is very common to open a larimar rock and only find low grade white or green material inside. Less than 1% of larimar is used in marahlago Jewelry.
What is Larimar
Pectolite is the common name for Sodium Calcium Silicate Hydroxide (NaCA2Si3O8(OH)).Pectolite occurs in many places around the world as a whitish gray transparent mineral. Blue pectolite from the Domincan Republic and is unique because of its color and rarity and also because it is found in cavities of serpentinized ultramafic rocks (a special rock that does not fit into the three common categories of rock).
There are various elements which influence the properties of Larimar, such as Copper, Vanadium, Hematite, Phosphorus and Silica. The exact process that formed larimar is unknown, but it is obviously due to the unique composition of these minerals in the area.
Electron microprobe analysis indicates that the different colored portions of larimar have a relatively uniform composition. This indicates that it is not the chemistry of larimar that results in the color, but possibly other factors.
Copper is often thought to be responsible for the color, as it is in Azurite and Turquoise. Interestingly though, the Copper concentrations have been found to be lower in the blue spherulites than the paler white areas. Copper occurs in Larimar in solid flecks which can occur microscopically or in much larger visible amounts. There are some unusual samples of larimar that have pure copper veins permeating the stone. Generally though, it is thought that the concentration of copper is not high enoughto be responsible for the color in larimar.
There have been studies which have shown increased concentrations of Vanadium in the blue spherulites, but again, the variations are not completely consistent with color, this indicates that there are other factors affecting the color of the larimar gemstone.
How is Larimar mined?
Larimar mining is considered “artisan mining” meaning that it is small scale and informal, carried out by individuals or small groups using minimal machinery and equipment. It is a major driver of community development, by providing jobs and ensuring profits for local villagers in the surrounding region.
Alternative employment in the area is limited to low paying sectors such as agriculture and fishing. In contrast to industrial scale mining, the miners earnings are spent locally, supporting sustainable economic growth within their own community.
Forty years ago the deposit of larimar was on the surface, but over time that material has been mined out requiring the shafts to go deeper and deeper. The best quality larimar is often found in a layer between two different types of rocks, so the miners dig vertical shafts down until they hit this boundary layer and then start tunneling around looking for the veins of Larimar.
A vein of larimar can be as small as a couple of inches upto around twenty inches wide. The lengths vary from a few inches to several feet long. Several small larimar veins are usually located in the same area, so once a vein is located, they follow it until it runs out which means that the tunnels twist and turn in every direction
Machinery and dynamite have a tendency to damage the larimar stone and make it unusable, yet the ground consists of hard igneous rock so the only solution is to dig manually with pickaxes and small tools to aid in breaking up the stone.
Currently the deepest larimar mines are several hundred feet deep and take about 2 years to excavate. It is not uncommon for miners to spend several years digging without finding a single piece of larimar.
Will Larimar run out?
Due to the very small deposits of larimar and the limited financial value of the larimar deposit extensive geological surveys of the land have never been done. The available quantity of larimar is unknown, but what is known is that the surface area has been mined out, so now the shafts are chasing the larimar deposit deep into the mountain.
What color is larimar
Larimar comes in a wide variety of colors ranging from gentle greens to the deepest blue. The patterns created during the cooling process give larimar its unique appearance, with so much variation that no two pieces are alike.
Why is Larimar blue
The mechanisms that give gemstones their colors are generally poorly understood. When light strikes an object there are two separate processes which affect what we see, absorption and scattering.
To better explain color mechanisms let us think of glacial ice. If the ice is thick, red wavelengths of light are absorbed, and the shorter blue wavelengths are transmitted (the ice appears blue). If the ice is thin, all wavelengths are transmitted, thus it appears colorless, and these are examples of absorption. If the ice contains many air pockets (as snow does) the light can not penetrate and is reflected (appearing white), this scattering is known as the Rayleigh effect.
The sky is blue because particles in the atmosphere scatter the sun's rays in the visible spectrum. The variation in color from zenith to horizon is due to varying concentrations of particles in the atmosphere. It is possible that differences in the color of Larimar are the result of particles within the stone scattering different wavelengths of light.
Are there different colors of Larimar?
Larimar is found in various shades of white, blue and green, with blue being the most desirable. There is a lot of variation in the intensity of color and it is very common to have small areas of deep blue color surrounded by pale white or green area's.
It is fairly common to see hematite dendrites around the edges of some rocks and they are sometimes reffered to as "red larimar". While these pieces are very interesting and unusual, they are usually not used in the higher grades of jewelry quality stone. You will also sometimes see "black larimar" this is not gem quality material and is thought to be carbonized organic matter. It is soft and has no use so is usually thrown into the tailings along with the host rockand dirt.
Can Larimar change color?
While some gemstones such as Alexandrite show a distinct or dramatic shift in color under different light sources, color changes do not occur in Larimar. Occasionally you will see an effect called Chatoyance, the cats eye effect, but it is usually only in the white crystalline area's of the stone that are rarely used in jewelry. Generally speaking, the smaller you cut larimar, the lighter the stones become, so smaller gemstones, like ones in the Cheyenne bracelet, are not usually as intense as the pieces with larger pieces of larimar, like the Brie Bracelet.
Does Larimar fade?
Larimar is a completely untreated gemstone and most dealers do not sell stones that have been treated, but on occasion, there have been known cases of larimar being soaked in a copper sulfate solution to make the stone temporarily appear darker. The color in those pieces is short lived and only lasts a few weeks. There are several articles online that mention larimar fading and while ultraviolet rays in sunlight will break down chemical bonds and cause the color of any object to fade, we have never encountered any problems. Our assumption is that any object left in strong natural sunlight for any period of time will fade, but for normal day to day wear, this does not seem to be an issue.
Is Larimar Hard
The hardness of larimar is from 4 to 7 on Mohs scale, depending on the crystaline structure of the stone. Generally the more intense blue and green specimens of larimar are the hardest, as they have the finest and densest needle structure. Larimar has been shown to be wearable everyday, with simple gemstone bracelets, that have stood the test of everyday wear.
How to grade Larimar
Once the raw larimar stones have been mined it is very difficult to differentiate the various qualities larimar. From the outside a stone may appear to be of good quality, only to be cut open and expose an interior of worthless host rock. so the first step of grading is to always cut open the rocks and see what is inslide.
There are several factors which affect the grade of larimar, such as color, patterning, luster, luminosity and inclusions. Generally the bluer tones are the most desirable, but because every piece of larimar will contain slightly different hues, color saturations, and markings it is necessary to assess a combination of several factors. Generally speaking, the smaller the stone is cut, the lighter the color becomes, so the larger pieces usually have deeper color and more clear patterns.
Due to the general lack of public knowledge about larimar and no standardised grading scale, it is easy for people to be taken advantage of. Our advice is to ignore the terminology and nomenclature when purchasing larimar and choose a piece that appeals to you. A salesperson telling you that a specific piece is "AAA" quality and worth a much higher price is potentially not as important as your own personal preferences of color, shade and patterning.
Some people prefer a lighter blue color with no markings, others desire the contrast that comes with a strong white pattern against a blue larimar stone. Some people dont mind imperfections and celebrate the natural characteristics of each unique piece. Other people are looking for a perfectly uniform piece and do not want any hint of a pattern that is sometimes mistaken as being cracked. A general rule regarding cracks is to run your fingernail across it. Any kind of crack will easily be felt, if it is smooth, then it is most likly natural patterning.
Is Larimar treated?
Authentic larimar is a completely untreated gemstone. In order to prepare larimar for jewelry, the gemstone is simply cut and ground to shape. Once the larimar is set, a final polish will be applied to bring out the shine and beauty of the natural stone. Learn more about buying larimar jewelry here.
There is a whole range of synthetics and substitutes that are sold as larimar. With a little experience they are easy to spot and there is currently nothing on the market that is able to pass for genuine larimar to anyone with even a little experience.
Plastic larimar is pretty easy to spot in a side by side comparison. Plastic larimar has a uniform color and consistent / repeating pattern. Natural stones will be cool to the touch, plastic larimar will be warmer and will also melt easily if touched with a hot pin.
Larimar substitutes are usually dyed howlite, quartz or amazonite. Dyed stones are usually lack the natural color variation of real larimar. They lean toward the green end of the spectrum and have a slightly translucent look with a consistent color. They can also have highly concentrated spots of color where the dye has absorbed into cracks and voids in the stone.
There are many articles written online about genuine larimar not being translucent. This is not however a reliable test. It is unusual to see translucent larimar, but there are occaisionally pieces with a very dense crystalline structure that are somewhat translucent when held up to the light.
What gemstones come from the Caribbean?
Very few gemstones originate from the Caribbean islands, but larimar is by far the most popular. It is often referred to as the Gemstone of the Caribbean because the blues and whites mimic the sky and sea of the Caribbean where it is found. Other gemstones, besides larimar, that come from the Caribbean are Caymanite and Amber. There is also a rare type of blue Amber also found in the Dominican republic.
What is so special about larimar?
While many people think we have found, studied and classified most animal, plants and minerals in the world, every now and then something new is discovered and larimar is one of these surprises. Larimar was first mined less than 50 years ago and is only found in one location on earth, a remote mountain region in the Dominican Republic. People are drawn, not only to the beautiful color, but also what it represents. Marahlago’s sealife pieces remain some of the more popular styles – evidence that this special gemstone ties in the earth, sky and sea.
Is Larimar Rare
Larimar Deposits have been found in only one place in the world. A remote mountain range on the Island of Hispaniola. The surface area of the larimar deposits are thought to cover less than a single square mile. There are single source stones on every continent and one of the most well known is Tanzanite which is mined in the foothills of mount Kilimanjaro and covers an area of approximtaly 8 square kilometers.
Will Larimar increase in value?
One of the most beautiful and rare gemstones on the planet, larimar has only ever been found in one, very small area in the mountains of the Dominican Republic. Over the last decade larimar has become one of the most sought after semi-precious gemstones in the world.
Forty years ago, Larimar was found on the surface. Twenty years ago it was mined in shallow pits 20 to 30’ deep. Now the mine shafts have to go more than 600 feet underground! As the larimar mines continue to chase the deposit ever deeper, the difficulty and cost to extract the stone will naturally increase. So it seems safe to say, that unless a new deposit is found, larimar is most likely to increase in value.
Is larimar expensive?
As larimar becomes more known and as companies like marahlago, continue to push the boundaries of what can be achieved, it is sure to increase in value. For instance, the Alexandria necklace takes 3-4 months and several kilo's of larimar to make a single necklace. A piece of high quality jewelry such as that has an incrementally different value than a simpler piece created with more rudimentary skills.
Every hundred feet farther into the ground the miners have to dig makes larimar that much more difficult and costly to bring to the customer. There have been several price increases over the years, and it is realistic to think that the farther down the miners have to dig, the more expensive the stone will become.
Is Larimar related to Turquoise?
Because Larimar is a lovely blue color, some people confuse it with varieties of turqouise, however Larimar is formed by very different process. Larimar is formed from cooling hyrdothermal fluids wheras Turquoise is usually created by a chemical reaction when water containing specific minerals such as copper and aluminum seep's through rocks in arid climates.
What is Larimar used for?
Because of the high cost, Larimar is most often used in jewelry, due to the relatively high cost, but it can also be used to make beads and decorative objects.
How do you clean Larimar?
Larimar can be cleaned with water and a silver polishing cloth, or diluted mild dish soap and warm water. Do not put larimar in an ultrasonic cleaning machine as this might strip off the polish.
If your silver is tarnished, Marahlago larimar has a tutorial on how to clean your larimar jewelry at How to clean your Larimar jewelry using everyday household products. The process will not damage larimar, pearls or other accent stones and is gentle enough not to harm the surface of the larimar or the oxidized finish of more elaborate styles.
Is Larimar a healing stone
Larimar is highly sought after within the metaphysical community. Healers that use gemstones in their work were amongst the first people to recognize the true rarity and value of larimar and much has been written about the metaphysical properties.
The vibrational frequency of Larimar is one of the highest of any gemstone; the energy in larimar is incredibly high, resulting in many desirable properties. It is finely attuned with the throat chakra and many believe it has the ability to enhance a person’s communication skill.
Edgar Cayce prophesied the discovery of Larimar in his writings. Larimar is often associated with Atlantis, and many psychics have since confirmed this connection (hence the name Atlantis stone).
Larimar combines the energy of the oceans with the energy of the heavens which means Larimar helps to combine our thoughts (air) with our emotions (water).
When placed on the skin the high vibrational energy of Larimar can help to ease stress and tension and it is said to be excellent for clearing headaches. Local folklore also says that Larimar has the ability to attract one's soul mate!
Does Larimar bring good luck?
According to the Book of Stones by Robert Simmons, placing larimar on your work desk can promote a relaxed and serene atmosphere. Carry larimar around for good luck and wear larimar around your neck to promote clearer communication. Even those who don’t believe in the healing powers of stones often carry their larimar around as a good luck charm.
Last Updated: June 16th, 2020