Currently only discovered on the popular holiday destination island of the Dominican Republic, Larimar (also known as Lorimar) is a subtle blue gemstone with an appearance similar to that of Turquoise.
Folklore suggests that the locals used to find ‘blue rock’ on the beach and after a barren period, they decided to follow a stream up into the mountain and found the original source of the rock. However, no one was able to obtain mining rights and in the early 1900’s the stones disappeared into the history books.
In 1974 a local called Miguel Mendez rediscovered the gem in the province of Barahona. Miguel decided to name his discovery by combining his daughter’s name ‘Larissa’ with the Spanish word for sea, ‘mar’. Today the Los Chupaderos Mine is the only source of the gem on the planet. It is located 10km from the city of Barahona and in the rainforest mountainside hundreds of small vertical mining shafts have been created.
The gem is a variety of pectolite and it receives its blue colouring from the presence of cobalt. While other pale colours are also found, the original blue Larimar that is most highly prized and which is set into jewellery. As a fairly new gemstone there is little folklore or legend surrounding it; however, the gem is also known by locals as the Atlantis Stone, as it was once claimed by a wise prophet that the Dominican Republic was part of the lost continent of Atlantis.
Next time you visit the Caribbean on holiday, be sure to take time to look in one of their jewellers windows. Not only will you be amazed at how seriously they take the displaying of coloured gemstones compared to many European retailers, you will almost certainly see a small selection of pieces set with their local hero Larimar.