Larimar

Larimar is BLUE pectolite. It is found, on one square kilometer of land in the Dominican Republic, the only place on the whole planet.  Blue pectolite is much more rare than diamonds, which compared with it, exist in “rich” abundance and are as “rare” as the daisies. You may wonder why they are so expensive… or ask the de Beer clan. But back to the pectolite Larimar.

Pectolite (“ratholite”), is an acid silicate hydrate of calcium and sodium and is found in the United States (Michigan, Arkansas, New Jersey, California), Canada, England (Scotland), India, Austria (Tyrolia), among others. It is a results of volcanic activity, many million years ago. It’s color is a creamy white. But Larimar is exclusively Dominican. There is no other place in the universe where blue and greenish pectolite has been discovered.

Whether the native Taino indians had been using Larimar as a gemstone is not known. We know they used the amber and even presented it as a gift to Columbus at his arrival.

But in our research we found that about one hundred years ago, the priest Miguel Domingo Fuerte Loren of Barahona applied for the permission of exploration and exploitation as can be found in the documents Dominican Treasury Department.

Whether this was granted or not, we don’t know and there is no mining activities registered from that time. At least nothing we could find.

And -as strange as it seems- the mine was forgotten for almost a century. Until the year 1974.

Larimar cabochons

Larimar Cabochons for Jewelry

In 1974, at the coast of Barahona, Norman Rilling, a member of the American “Peace Corps” in company of the Dominican Miguel Méndez (who’s daughter’s name is “Larissa”), finds blue pebbles at the stony sea (“mar”) beach of Barahona at the west coast of the Dominican Republic. As they start searching upstream the Baoruco river, they find the mine again. In 1975, the exploitation starts and now you will find about 2000 or more digging holes reaching far into the mountain.

Very little safety measures are being taken and an unknown number of miners found their grave in the holes and tunnels. In rainy and hurricane season the holes are filled with water and the outcrop is rather scarce.

The real blue material is not always found, dealers depend on what is available. The increasing demand of souvenirs in tourism high seasons also reflects on the price. The government is now controlling the mining and export of raw Larimar. But many, mostly Asian companies bribe their way around it. And: the hanging Damocles’ sword is the question for how long Larimar will be found and when the only known Larimar mine in all the world will be exhausted.