Gemstone Guide: Larimar
But have you heard of Larimar? It’s one of our favorite gemstones, but it’s also the one that many people aren’t familiar with. And that’s a shame! Larimar is beautiful, versatile, and an all around incredible gemstone.
In today’s post, we’ll teach you a bit about the history of Larimar, it’s uses in jewelry, and even show you some of our favorite pieces of jewelry.
Keep reading to learn more.
The Short History of Larimar
Unlike turquoise, diamonds, and gold, which have been used in jewelry for thousands of years by civilizations around the world, Larimar has a much shorter history.
In 1916 a priest in the Dominican Republic explored a mine and discovered a peculiar blue rock. He asked the government for permission to look for more, but his request was denied and for another 50+ years the stone was forgotten.
Finally, in 1974 a Peace Corps volunteer re-discovered Larimar on a beach. He combined his daughter’s name “Larissa” with the Spanish word for ocean, “mar” (because of the stone’s blueish color) to name the stone “Larimar.”
What is Larimar & Where is it Found?
Larimar is a type of pectolite, a mineral from lime and soda (not the food and drink, but the chemicals calcium and sodium). Pectolites are found all over the world, but Larimar with its beautiful sea blue/green color is found only in the Dominican Republic.
It’s actually volcanic copper combined with calcium that makes Larimar so beautiful. And it’s incredible that this beautiful stone is found in only one location in the entire world.
In fact, a single mine near the city of Barahona in the south-western Dominican Republic produces nearly 100% of the world’s natural Larimar. The mine is located on the site of a volcano, where extremely hot gasses push minerals, up through the sediment to the surface.
Characteristics of Larimar
Larimar’s color will range from a very light, almost milky blue to a deep blue, similar to some pieces of turquoise. Most pieces will also have a marbled appearance, as well as a “cat’s-eye” look to them, because of how the stone was formed.
How Valuable is Larimar?
Natural Larimar can be incredibly expensive, depending on its grade. Many pieces of the stone have green or red spots, brown splotches or other colors due to chemical imperfections.
These imperfections are generally caused by volcanic iron that has oxidized inside the stone.
Such pieces can still be incredibly beautiful, but it’s the flawless and incredibly beautiful sea-blue Larimar that fetches the highest prices.
Caring for Natural Larimar
Like many other gemstones, Larimar requires special care. If exposed to sunlight for too long, the color can begin to fade. Certain chemicals can cause it to change color as well, so only clean your pieces with water and a soft cloth.
It’s also a somewhat soft stone, that can be broken if dropped or banged against a hard surface. But with a little precaution and proper care, Larimar pieces can make truly stunning (and long-lasting) pieces of jewelry.
Natural vs. Treated Larimar
Because natural Larimar is so incredibly rare (and expensive), many jewelry makers including many of the artisans we work with at MexicanSilverStore.com, use treated (lab-made) Larimar.
It’s just as beautiful, but available at a fraction of the cost.
To keep our prices affordable, we use a “treated Larimar” which is not natural Larimar but rather a simulated stone that is durable, easily cleaned, and a beautiful aquamarine shade of blue just like the Caribbean Sea that gives Larimar its name.
When shopping for Larimar, if you see a price that’s “too good to be true”, you’re not buying natural Larimar and you’re not dealing with an honest jeweler.
You should know that natural Larimar is most frequently used in jewelry made by artisans in the Caribbean and is very rarely found in jewelry made elsewhere around the world.
There’s nothing wrong with lab-made Larimar, but a trustworthy jewelry maker will be up front and honest about the source of his or her stones.
Our Favorite Pieces of Larimar Jewelry
This Seashell Clamper bracelet is one of our favorite pieces of treated Larimar jewelry. This bracelet features an amazing contour and beaded band design. The inlays really bring this beautiful bracelet to life.
Doesn’t it look just like something you might find on the beach in the Caribbean?
Silver & Larimar Mosaic Motif Cuff Bracelet
I love the design of this silver and Larimar mosaic cuff bracelet. We start by creating a geometric mosaic of Larimar inlays, and use a darkened niello silver finish to give the bracelet depth and texture.
950 Silver Larimar Meander Necklace
This silver and Larimar necklace has a one-of-a-kind design. Doesn’t its smooth, flowing pattern remind you of a wave breaking on a beautiful beach somewhere? We use a tongue and box closure to make sure this necklace remains secure around your neck.
Railroad Bar Ring
This Railroad Bar Ring featuring treated Larimar inlays is another gorgeous piece of jewelry featuring one of our favorite stones. This ring features an incredible geometric design that truly is a wearable work of art.
Silver & Larimar Deco Scroll Earrings
These sterling silver & Larimar Deco Scroll earrings make a great gift for anyone who loves classic art deco designs. The Larimar inlays are placed inside hand-wrought silver and are stunning to behold. Like many of our other pieces, other stone inlay options are available (contact us to learn more), but we love how these earrings look!
Do You Love Larimar?
Have we turned you into a Larimar lover? Have you seen a piece of Larimar jewelry that you can’t live without? Tell us in the comments below!
And if you’re interested in learning more about the inlay and sizing options for any of the pieces of jewelry in today’s post, feel free to contact us directly. We’d love to help you find the perfect piece of jewelry for yourself or for someone you love!