Larimar : What is Larimar, Gemstone, Properties

Larimar is a rare and beautiful blue gemstone found only in the Dominican Republic. Larimar is actually a rock, being composed of more than one mineral, but is mostly composed of pectolite, an acid silicate hydrate of calcium and sodium. It has been given the trade name "Larimar".

Pectolite is found in many locations, but larimar has a unique volcanic blue coloration, which is the result of copper substitution for calcium.

There is a legend that Larimar was originally discovered in 1916 and its locality subsequently forgotten. In 1974, Norman Rilling, a visiting member of the US Peace Corps, found the locality together with Miguel Méndez, a Dominican native. Together they named this stone "Larimar", which is a combination of "Larrisa" (Méndez's daughter's name) and "mar" (sea in Spanish).

Formation of Larimar

Larimar is formed in volcanic rocks that have been altered by hydrothermal fluids. These fluids carry copper and other minerals that are incorporated into the pectolite crystals.

The formation of larimar begins with the eruption of basaltic lava. The lava cools and forms a volcanic rock called basalt. Over time, the basalt is weathered and eroded, and the copper and other minerals are dissolved in rainwater.


The rainwater then percolates through the volcanic rock and forms hydrothermal fluids. These fluids are heated by the Earth's interior and rise to the surface. As the hydrothermal fluids rise, they cool and the copper and other minerals precipitate out of solution.

The copper and other minerals precipitate out of solution and form pectolite crystals. The pectolite crystals are often found in veins and cavities in the volcanic rock.

Why is Larimar so expensive?

There are a few reasons why larimar is so expensive:

  • Rarity: Larimar is a very rare gemstone. It is found only in one small area of the Dominican Republic, and the supply is limited.

  • Color: Larimar has a unique and beautiful blue color. The color is caused by the presence of copper in the mineral. Larimar can range in color from light blue to deep turquoise, and the most prized larimar is a deep, vibrant blue.

  • Patterns: Larimar often has unique and attractive patterns. These patterns are caused by the way that the larimar formed in the volcanic rock. Some of the most common larimar patterns include dendritic patterns, swirly patterns, and cloudy patterns.

  • Demand: Larimar is a popular gemstone, and there is a high demand for it. This demand is driven by the gemstone's rarity, color, and patterns.

In addition to these factors, the cost of larimar can also be affected by the quality of the stone, the size of the stone, and the cut of the stone. Higher quality larimar with more vibrant colors and attractive patterns will be more expensive.

A photo of a larimar gemstone, showing its distinctive blue color and white veining.
Green Larimar. Credit: Daniel Virgadaula

Where to Find Larimar

Larimar found exclusively in the Caribbean, on the island of Hispaniola. It is only found in a dormant, volcanic mountain range in the Baoruco Mountain of the Dominican Republic. It is mined in the Sierra de Bahoruco mountains, which are located in the southwestern part of the country. Larimar is mined by hand and by small-scale mining operations.

Los Chupaderos

The most important outcrop of blue pectolite is located at Los Chupaderos, in the section of Los Checheses, about 10 kilometers southwest of the city of Barahona, in the south-western region of the Dominican Republic. It is a single mountainside now perforated with approximately 2,000 vertical shafts, surrounded by rainforest vegetation and deposits of blue-colored mine tailings.

Larimar Geode
Larimar Geode

Properties of Larimar

Larimar, also known as the "Dolphin Stone" or "Atlantis Stone," is a rare blue variety of the mineral pectolite. Here are some key properties of Larimar:

Composition: Larimar is primarily composed of calcium sodium silicate with the chemical formula NaCa2Si3O8(OH). It also contains small amounts of copper and vanadium.

Color: The most distinctive feature of Larimar is its unique blue color, ranging from light blue to turquoise. Some stones may also exhibit white or gray marbling.

Luster: Larimar typically has a vitreous to silky luster.

Crystal System: Larimar crystallizes in the triclinic crystal system.

Streak: Larimar usually has a white streak.

Hardness: The hardness of Larimar ranges from 4.5 to 5 on the Mohs scale, making it relatively soft.

Cleavage: Larimar exhibits poor cleavage.

Density: The density of Larimar is approximately 2.7 g/cm³.

Transparency: Larimar is typically translucent to opaque.

Fracture: Larimar displays conchoidal to uneven fractures.

Specific Gravity: The specific gravity of Larimar is around 2.70.

Solubility: Larimar is insoluble in water.

Magnetism: Larimar is not magnetic.

Fluorescence: Some Larimar stones may exhibit weak fluorescence under ultraviolet (UV) light.

Pleochroism: Larimar can show weak pleochroism, meaning it may display different colors when viewed from different angles.

Refractive Index: The refractive index of Larimar ranges from approximately 1.60 to 1.66.

Inclusions: Larimar may contain various inclusions, including small mineral crystals or patches of different colors.

Larimar Geode
Natural Larimar Geode
Photo: larimar.miner

Larimar Color and Patterns

The patterns in larimar are caused by the presence of different minerals, such as copper and vanadium, and the way the stone is formed.

Some of the most common patterns in larimar include:

  • Turtleback Larimar: This pattern is characterized by swirls of white or light blue on a darker blue background. It resembles the shell of a turtle, which is why it is called turtleback larimar.

  • Fractals Larimar: This pattern is characterized by complex, repeating patterns that can be seen at different scales. It is a relatively rare larimar pattern and is often seen in darker colored stones.

  • Firefly Larimar: This pattern is characterized by small, white dots on a blue background. It resembles the flickering lights of fireflies, which is why it is called firefly larimar.

  • Sky Larimar: This pattern is characterized by a uniform light blue color. It resembles the clear blue sky, which is why it is called sky larimar.

  • Cloud Larimar: This pattern is characterized by wispy swirls of blue and white that resemble clouds in the sky.

Fractals Larimar pattern
Fractals Larimar pattern

Metaphysical Properties of Larimar

Larimar is often associated with the throat chakra, which is the energy center associated with communication and self-expression. It is believed that larimar can help to open the throat chakra and improve communication skills.

Larimar is also associated with the heart chakra, which is the energy center associated with love and compassion. It is believed that larimar can help to open the heart chakra and promote feelings of love and empathy.

Larimar Pendant
Larimar Pendants jewelry


greenish Larimar
Greenish Larimar

Larimar is not as well-known as some other gemstones, and its rarity contributes to its value in the gem and jewelry market. It's a sought-after stone for collectors and those who appreciate unique and unusual gem materials.

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