Larimar Gemstones - Blue valuable gems
Larimar is a subtle blue gemstone that is similar in appearance to turquoise. Today it is only found at the beautiful and popular island of the Dominican Republic, Larimar, which is a holiday destination. This island is also called Lorimar at times.
Folk tales about this gemstone abound and they claim that people used to get the blue rock lying on the beach, and after a while, when it disappeared, they decided to follow it up a stream, into the mountains, where they found the original ore of the gemstone. However, for a long time, nobody could secure a mining right to the gemstone and in the early 1900s, the gemstone completely disappeared even from the history books.
However, in 1974, one local going by the name of Miguel Mendez rediscovered the gemstone in one province called Barahona. It was Miguel who gave the stone its name and decided to name it by combining his daughter’s name ‘Larissa’ with the Spanish word ‘Mar’ which means sea. Today, the gemstone is only found in the Los Chupaderos mine on the island. The mine is found approximately 10 kilometers from the city of Barahona. The mine is firmly in the rainforest mountainside, where there have been hundreds of shaft mines dug into the ground.
This is a gemstone that is a type of pectolite and its blue color comes from the presence of traces of cobalt. There are pale versions of the gemstone occurring in nature but that of the bright blue color of the sea is the one that is most popular, and it is the one that is used in making jewelry. There is very little folklore associated with this gemstone since it is fairly new, but the locals know it as the Atlantis stone. This is because there was once a wise prophet in the land who said that the stone got its true color from the city of Atlantis since the Dominican Republic was part of the legendary city under the sea.
When you next go to the Caribbean on holiday, you should look through any jeweler’s window and see if you can see this wonderful gemstone. You will be amazed at how the jewelers display their colored gemstones, which is actually said to be much better than the way the European counterparts display theirs. You will definitely find a section that is made up of their darling gemstone, the Larimar.
This is a gemstone that was also known as Stefilia’s stone, and is a peculiar blue gemstone that is only found in the Dominican Republic within the Caribbean region. It has color that also range from white, light blue, greenish blue and a deep blue.
History of Larimar gemstones
According to the Ministry of Mining in the Dominican Republic, this is a gemstone that was officially mined on November 1916, when Father Miguel Domingo Fuertes Loren of the Barahona Parish asked for official permission from the government to explore and mine the gemstones. He said that he had found the rocks and since the pectolites were not yet known in this country, the government refused to give him the mining rights.
Then, in 1974, Miguel Mendez and Norman Rilling, who was a volunteer for the Peace Corps rediscovered the blue gemstones on a beach that is found at the bottom of the Bahoruco Range, which is in the coastal province of Barahona. The natives of the place thought that the stones cane from the sea and they named them the Blue Stone. It was from the name of Miguel’s daughter Larissa and the Spanish word for sea, Mar that this gemstone derives the name Larimar. The name sea had to be added in order to satisfy the lore that said that the sto9ne came from the clear blue water of the Caribbean Sea. However, the few stones that were found on that beach had actually been brought with the alluvial sediment, which was washed into the sea by the Bahoruco River. Upon discovering this, they went up the river looking for the original source of the gemstone, and once found, the Los Chupaderos mine was created.
The geology of Larimar gemstone
This is a variety of pectolite, or of certain rocks that are mainly made of pectolite. This is an acidic silicate hydrate of sodium and calcium. Pectolite is found in many locations in the world, but none of these have the peculiar blue volcanic color that is found in Larimar. This blue color, which is very different from that of many other pectolites is due to the presence of copper which acts as a substitute for calcium.
Basalts, Andesites and Miocene volcanic rocks are said to have erupted within the limestone deposits which make up the south coast of the Dominican Republic. The rocks had vugs or cavities in them which later filled up with a large number of minerals which included the blue pectolite. The pectolite cavity filling process is a secondary happening, which occurred inside the volcanic plugs, dikes and flows. It is when the rocks are eroded that the blue gemstones find their way down to the beach in the waters of the river Baharuco. The sediments that bore the pectolite were washed down the river all the way to the sea. It is the tumbling of the sediments on the bed of the river that creates the polished look that the gemstones have. The blue Larimar stones usually stand out very clearly from the gray gravel that is found on these beaches.
The Los Chupaderos Mine
Los Chupaderos is the home of the most prominent outcrop of the blue pectolite, and this is within the Los Checheses section, approximately 10 kilometers to the southwest of the city of Barahona. The city is located in the south western part of the Dominican Republic. This outcrop is found on a single mountainside which is now dotted with about 2,000 vertical shafts; these are within the rainforest and there is a lot of vegetation around these shafts. The blue stone are removed from within these shafts.
The first time that the public ever saw any jewelry made of Larimar was within the Dominican Republic, and also in the other Caribbean islands, and they were sod as a specialty of the region. The jewelry was mainly made of silver, but some of the specimens which have a high grade were set in gold. Today, you can get Larimar being offered in many other places. Some of the manufacturers from the Far East are buying the gemstones to produce their own jewelry, and they end up buying huge amounts for this purpose.
The grading of Larimar is usually based on the color of the gemstone, and also how the mineral has crystalized in each specimen. You can find Larimar that has a green color and some specimens also have red spots and brown strikes. There are also many other inclusions, which affect the color and sometimes it is just due to oxidation. However, the deeper the blue color and the contrasting colors of the stone, the higher the quality. This is quite rare and this makes them quite expensive. If the stone is exposed to too much sunlight or heat, then the blue color will fade; these must be avoided at all costs.
A deeper look at Larimar
As mentioned earlier, this is a rare blue and sometimes green type of pectolite, which is a mineral that many specimen collectors desire. Pectolite can be found in many places such as Canada, the United States of America and England, but Larimar comes only from the Dominican Republic. This is a gemstone that was formed millions of years ago by the same volcanic action that formed the beautiful islands of the Caribbean, especially that called Hispaola. The best Larimar specimens have a sky blue color and may have a whitish patter running through it. This is quite like the effect of sunlight on the floor of a swimming pool.
The appearance, refractive index and specific gravity are the features that are used to classify Larimar. At times it may be necessary to use magnification and fluorescence to tell it apart. The gemstone has a semitransparent to opaque clarity and a refractive index of 1.5999 to 1.628. It also has a birefringence of 0.029 to 0.038. It has a biaxial optic character and a positive optic sign. It is doubly refractive when viewed on the polariscope or AGG depending on how transparent the specimen is. The florescence when viewed under long and short wave ultraviolet light ranges from inert to a strong greenish yellow and finally to an orange phosphorescence.
This is a gemstone that has a triclinic crystal system and is classified as a silicate. It has a hardness of 4.5 to 5 on the Mohs scale and should therefore be handled with care since this is relatively soft. It has a white streak and a specific gravity that ranges from 2.74 to2.9, but typically at 2.81. It is not a very tough stone. This is a gemstone that may have inclusions that can only be seen under the microscope, and these look like tiny spheres which have a blue center and a whitish edge. It has a vitreous to silky luster and has a perfect cleavage in two directions. It has an uneven to splintery fracture.
This is therefore a gemstone that could give the turquoise a run for its money. It is best for rings, pendants, brooches and necklaces. It would be favorite for people who have blue or green eyes. It also does well with dark toned blue to black fashion, since it provides the perfect contrast.