Known as the “Blue Beauty of the Caribbean,” Larimar exists in only one region in the world: the Dominican Republic. Nestling in the Caribbean Ocean, it’s one of the most precious varieties of pectolite. Featuring dappled blues and oceanic greens this stone captures the beauty of the shimmering Caribbean Sea. Continue reading to discover what makes this gemstone so rare and desirable to collectors.

San Rafael Beach, Barahona, Dominican Republic.

San Rafael Beach, Barahona, Dominican Republic. Home of Larimar.

Who Discovered Larimar?

The first mention of Larimar was made in 1916 by Spanish priest Miguel Domingo Fuertes Loren. However, it wasn’t until 1974 that the stone made its first appearance. Miguel Méndez, a Dominican, and Norman Rilling, a member of the U.S. Peace Corps, found a piece of Larimar on the seashore. Obsessing over the amazing blue color of the gem, Mendez named the stone Larimar by combining his daughter’s name Larissa with the Spanish word for the sea, mar.

We consider Larimar’s beautiful blue color to embody the pleasant hue of the sea and sky found in the Caribbean. The stone’s origin and appearance mean that many call it “The Caribbean Gem.”

Rough Larimar stones.

Raw Larimar before sorting.

Mining Larimar in the Dominican Republic

Men in ragged clothes, barefoot, covered in grime, scramble deep into the earth, searching for veins of a blue-green gemstone believed to exist only in the southwestern mountains of the Dominican Republic. Miners spend 8 to 9 hours a day underground, mining this rare blue stone from holes that run as deep as 150 feet.

Mining of Larimar is challenging. Not only does the mining location makes things difficult, but hurricanes often cause the mines to be shut down for up to five months per year. Torrential rainfall during the five-month mining season can flood the tunnels. As a result, the mountain can unleash devastating mudslides.

Mining must occur by hand as dynamite and heavy machinery can destroy the stone. For this reason, excavation is hugely labor-intensive. Miners, using only hand tools, must find and follow the small veins of Larimar that criss-cross through the ground. The best quality stone often occurs as far as one hundred feet below the surface. Digging through all that rock by hand takes quite a bit of time!

Dominican officials are making mining safe and more profitable for miners. Authorities celebrated the completion of a 400-meter tunnel that pockmarks the forested mountains of Barahona Province.

The local government has opened institutes to train local artisans to cut and polish Larimar for turning them into beautiful jewelry pieces. This process will help them increase their income significantly.

Only the Best of The Best

After excavating the rock, Larimar is cut and graded. Several factors contribute when assessing stone quality, with color and pattern being most important.

  • Color. Profound, “volcanic” blues are most desirable.
  • Pattern. The more vibrant and exciting, the better.
  • Luster. Stones must be glossy and bright.
  • Clarity. The surface of the jewel must be smooth.
  • Translucence. Can light pass through a portion of the stone?
  • Chatoyancy. Rare material might show the cat’s eye effect!

Of all the raw Larimar miners extract, only the top three percent become Shop LC gemstones. They are indeed the best of the best!

Larimar stone set in sterling silver cuff bracelet.

The Allure of Larimar

Larimar jewelry is famous throughout the Caribbean. You can find it incorporated into rings, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. Representing serenity and purity, gem therapists believe that Larimar brings the tranquility of sea and air to the heart and mind. Many say this gem helps with channeling self-expression and patience while teaching us acceptance.

In today’s market, this blue stone draws many comparisons to turquoise. It’s the perfect choice for expanding your collection after dabbling with this famous gem.

Shop LC works very closely with our mining partner to ensure a regular supply for as long as this stone will last. As a single source gemstone, you have to accept that once it’s gone, it’s gone!

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With limited availability, future supply is not guaranteed. To avoid future disappointment, get your Larimar jewelry today.