Gemstone Profiles: What is Larimar?

Larimar is a rare stone from the Caribbean

Larimar (aka Stefilia’s Stone) is a lovely stone in it’s own right, but it often gets lumped in with other blue stones like some varieties of turquoise. However, Larimar is a wholly unique and fairly rare stone, with a beauty and a look that’s all it’s own.

Larimar is found where the water matches the color of the stone, namely, the Caribbean. More specifically, it comes from the Dominican Republic. Records on the island show that larimar may have been discovered and identified as unique as recently as 1916, but the local authorities had no knowledge of pectolite gemstones in the region, so it was ignored until the 1970s. The story goes that a Peace Corps volunteer rediscovered the stone with a local friend named Mendez who called the stone Larimar, a contraction of “Larissa”, the name of Mendez’s daughter, and “mar” which is Spanish for “sea”. The following year, in 1975, a visiting entomologist named Dr. Woodruff (who was also a hobbyist lapidary), found out about the stone and had it checked out in the States. They confirmed the substance as pectolite, a volcanic mineral that is usually white or gray.
However, the presence of copper is what colors the stone blue–much like turquoise. To date the only location on earth where this unique chemical mix has occurred is in the Dominican Republic, and the odds of finding it elsewhere are probably very low.

Larimar has a hardness range of about 4.5 to 7 on the Mohs hardness scale, which means it’s about as hard as tooth enamel on the soft end, window glass on average, and quartz on the high end. Every piece is going to be a little bit different, but in general it’s about the same hardness range as turquoise.

The stone is also photosensitive, which means that it’s sensitive to both light and heat. Keeping your larimar jewelry away from continuous bright sunlight and heat will help the stone retain that beautiful blue appearance that you love so much.

Of course, you may be wondering “where can I buy larimar?” and the answer is simple: here at Old Town Jewels! We carry a variety of larimar pieces and can craft or find just about anything you have in mind.

If you have questions about finding the perfect larimar piece, or want to know more about how to care for your larimar jewelry give us a call at (602) 350-4009, or visit us online at Old Town Jewels. Or stop by and say hi!

Want to read more about larimar and gems? Dr. Woodruff’s account is fascinating and goes into more detail, and you can also learn more about the Moh’s Hardness Scale, which helps determine how durable a certain gem might be.

Thanks for reading!

Larimar is a rare stone from the Caribbean

A choice selection of Larimar from our showroom floor

A silver and larimar pendent

A silver and larimar pendant

by oldtownjewels

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