Imagine the light-calorie blue of the ocean. Add the cloud-sprinkled August sky of the Caribbean with a Latin American attitude, and you get one of the most remarkable gems on planet earth.
Now imagine earth during its Genesis. Somewhere in the area that would later become the Caribbean, a merely lengthening sliver of solidifying rock was hesitantly emerging from the tumultuous ocean floor, disgorging at its extreme western corner what would later be named the Bahoruco Range on the island of Kiskeya (Quisqueya in Spanish), now known as Haiti and Dominican Republic.
Fast-forward about 100 million years.
On the 22nd of November 1916 father Miguel Domingo Fuertes Loren of the Barahona Parish requested permission at the Dominican Ministry of Mining to explore and exploit the mine of a certain ‘blue rock’ he had discovered.
Since nobody knew what the Catholic priest was talking about the request fell through and the heaven-blue stone was lost in the limbo of Latin American bureaucracy. It was not until 1974 when at the foot of the Bahoruco Range, the coastal province of Barahona, a flash of blue in the beach sand caught the attention of Miguel Méndez and Peace Corps volunteer Norman Rilling.
They scooped down to make geological history.
Miguel promptly took his young daughter’s name Larissa and the Spanish word for the sea–“mar”–and formed “Larimar,” believing the gem originated from the sea. As it turns out, the few stones they found were alluvial sediment, washed into the sea by the Bahoruco river. An upstream search revealed the in situ outcrops in the range, and before soon the Los Chupaderos mine tapped the only Larimar outcropping in the world.
Geologically speaking, Larimar is a pectolite, formerly denominated “ratholite”, an acid silicate hydrate of calcium and sodium. Although pectolites are to be had in nearly every hemisphere, none have the unique volcanic blue coloration of Larimar. This makes it one of the rarest novelties known.
Acquiring a Larimar in its treated form as a necklace, bracelet, ring or earring is occasionally likened to a spiritual experience. Larimar, the astute vendor will tell you, is like a tranquilizer helping us to neutralize and dissolve inner phantoms of conflict. The volcanic blue — sometimes clouded, sometimes ocean-green, but never the same — glows eerily under ultraviolet light. Each sheening gem is singular and guards a scene of breathtaking resplendence matched only by the light blue of the Caribbean Sea. And Larimar is more than just a pretty rock; it has become the gem-ambassador of the Dominican Republic, and the extend of the deposits have not yet been fully determined and might even be presently exhausted.
Anyone interested in acquiring Larimar jewelry before the tap runs dry and the prices skyrocket can do so, but mostly only in the Dominican Republic. The jewelers with the right skills to refine this gemstone are few, which makes finding good quality hard.
The leading jeweler is the Dominican Larimar Museum in Santo Domingo, Isabel la Católica Street #54 in the cities prestigious Colonial Zone. They run also the world’s only Larimar jeweler training school were talented young artisans hone their skills.
Prices range from only $5 US for smaller silver-framed jewelry to $2000 US and beyond for larger gold-framed pieces. But no matter what kind you choose to buy, it is like acquiring a piece of the Caribbean.