by Lisa Coen, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

Overflowing with waves of ocean-blue color, larimar is a rare blue variety of pectolite. The serene blue color results from the substitution of cobalt for calcium in the stone and varies from white and light-blue to green-blue and deep blue or ''volcanic blue.'' With swirling bands of white, larimar mimics the wave crests of crystal blue Caribbean waters.

The dreamy, mesmerizing gemstone is known by different names: ''dolphin stone'' for the charming and intelligent ocean creature, ''Caribbean gemstone'' for its captivating colors reminiscent of the waters near the Dominican Republic beach where it was found, and most commonly, ''Atlantis stone'' for the belief by some that the Dominican Republic now stands where the legendary City of Atlantis fell.

Edgar Cayce, the most documented psychic of the 20th century often called the ''sleeping prophet,'' once noted that part of Atlantis could be discovered in the Caribbean. In addition, he indicated that a blue stone with extraordinary healing powers would be found there. To date, the only known deposits of larimar are found in the Dominican Republic where it was most likely treasured by the area's first inhabitants, the Taino Indians. The only known larimar mine is in this remote, mountainous location in the Dominican province of Barahonas where locals still mine the stone from narrow crevices using primitive hand tools.
The Lure of Larimar
Larimar was reportedly discovered in 1916 by Father Miguel Domingo Fuertes Loren, but wasn't mined until decades later in 1974 when Dominican, Miguel Méndez, and Peace Corps volunteer, Norman Rilling, noticed a piece of larimar on the Barahonas province shoreline. Named for Miguel's daughter, Larissa, and ''mar,'' the Spanish word for sea, larimar captures the exquisite beauty of the Caribbean Sea.

As a highly desired gem, larimar is commonly believed to be a calming stone, offering many incredible healing powers. It is considered by some to aid in communication and is associated with the crown, heart, third eye and throat chakras. Many alternative and holistic healers use larimar for a variety of physical, emotional and spiritual healing practices. Whether or not larimar is used for healing purposes, simply creating jewelry with larimar gemstone beads and focals will result in peaceful and positive emotions.

Larimar is still relatively new to the jewelry industry, thus, it's a somewhat exclusive gemstone to find in mainstream jewelry designs. Many jewelry artists incorporate polished freeform larimar pendants and cabochons into necklaces and create earrings with larimar rounds and chips. Freeform larimar stones are also used in wire-wrapped designs such as necklaces, rings, bracelets and earrings. Commonly seen paired with sterling silver, larimar gemstones are equally as gorgeous when designed with gold and copper.

A softer stone, larimar is rated 4.5 - 5 on Mohs hardness scale. It should not come into contact with heat or chemicals. Clean larimar with warm, soapy water--steamers and ultrasonic cleaners should be avoided.

Customer Comments

We would like to share some of the customer comments we received in response to the article, "The Lure of Larimar," featured in a newsletter. Please keep in mind that the comments expressed below are those of our customers and do not reflect the views of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.

"I loved the article!!! I am familiar with Larimar since a trip to Maine a few years ago. My daughter and I noticed it in a store window and I just had to have some. My husband bought me a pendant very similar to the largest one in your 3 piece set and I love it. I put it on a 14kt white gold mesh chain and it goes well with everything. I would like to see you offer it in more price range selections. Like B grade medium size free form nuggets in 3 to 5 piece sets, or one large and two smaller... etc. So they could be a little more affordable. Thanks."
- Marsha

"Actually no question, it asked for feedback.... really enjoyed reading about this stone (Larimar) and the history. I find my customers like to know about stones too, so keep the info coming. Thanks,"
- Lee