Larimar: The Caribbean Gem

deep blue larimar stone

Larimar is a very rare variety of pectolite only found in Caribbean’s Dominican Republic. It is known for its beautiful blue hues, ranging from light blue to deep turquoise but it can also come in green, white, and have red spots, due to the presence of other minerals and/or oxidation. 

Larimar is exclusively found in the province of Barahona which is located in the southwestern part of the country and mined in an area called Los Chupaderos. 

The unique geological conditions in that region created the perfect environment for the formation of this pectolite. Larimar deposits are formed within volcanic rocks, specifically within the cavities and voids left by volcanic activity. These cavities contain the mineral-rich solutions that give rise to the formation of Larimar. The mineralization process takes place over thousands of years as minerals crystallize and form the beautiful blue pectolite stone.

mina de larimarImage retrieved in Google Maps

Due to its limited geographic distribution, Larimar is considered a rare semi-precious gemstone. Its scarcity, combined with its distinctive beauty, has contributed to its desirability among jewelry lovers and rock collectors.

Discovery and name

According to records of the Dominican Republic's Ministry of Mining, the priest Miguel Domingo Fuertes requested permission in 1916 to explore the mine of a blue rock that he had discovered. Nonetheless, the request was rejected. It was in 1974, where Miguel Méndez, a Dominican native, and Norman Rilling, of the US Peace Corps, sighted specimens of larimar, "rediscovering" this stone.

The name Larimar was later coined by Méndez, who, by combining his daughter's name, called Larissa, and the word Mar (Spanish word for sea), inspired by the beautiful colors of the Caribbean Sea, formed the word Larimar.

Larimar was classified as a semiprecious stone in 1979.

Larimar's composition

Larimar is a form of pectolite, a silicate mineral with a typical chemical formula of NaCa_2Si_3O_8(OH). Pectolite is usually found in a variety of colors, from white to gray, but Larimar stands out due to its vibrant blue and greenish-blue hues. But what gives Larimar its distinctive blue color, and what makes it so unique among other gemstones? 

Deep Blue Larimar Palm Stone Cabochon, AAAA Larimar, Larimar Stone, Larimar Cabochon, Larimar specimen, Larimar crystal, Dominican Larimar

The Role of Copper and Vanadium

The most widely accepted explanation for Larimar's blue color is the presence of copper within its crystal structure. Copper is a transition metal known for its vibrant coloration in other minerals, such as malachite and azurite. In the case of Larimar, copper impurities contribute to the gemstone's intense blue tones.

Additionally, some studies suggest that vanadium may also play a role in Larimar's unique color. Vanadium is another transition metal known to create intense colors in various gemstones. The combination of copper and vanadium impurities in the pectolite structure likely contributes to the varying shades of blue observed in Larimar.

Mining Larimar

Larimar mining can be considered as artisanal, since the methodology used is conditioned by factors such as the thinness and irregularity of the Larimar bearing layer and the non-use of explosives and compressed air. To extract the stone, holes must be drilled 200 meters underground, which are shored with wood to avoid collapse. The equipment used includes electric hammers, submersible pumps, hoses, cranes, buckets and fans, among other tools. 

larimar mine , mine de larimar
Larimar mine - Pits and galleries

The cycle of a mining unit ("the pit") begins with the opening of a small gallery, followed by a reconnaissance pit. Upon reaching the red clay layer, the process involves constructing a gallery that progresses along the steepest slope and only marginally opens in alignment with the layer's direction. Consequently, the area being exploited always corresponds to the gallery's advancement, which maintains a width not surpassing three meters.

Metaphysical Properties

In addition to its aesthetic appeal, Larimar is believed to promote peace, tranquility, and harmony, and is often associated with throat chakra healing and communication. Many people also wear Larimar as a symbol of the Caribbean's natural beauty and as a connection to the sea.

larimar one the beach, larimar plage 


Back to blog