Larimar (pectolite) sterling silver ring
Larimar (pectolite) sterling silver ring

Pectolite (Larimar) Value, Price, and Jewelry Information


Fibrous pectolite has long been a curiosity for gem collectors. Compact material can make wonderful cabochons, and transparent crystals are rare and usually tiny. Larimar, blue pectolite from the Dominican Republic, has become a popular jewelry stone.

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Fibrous pectolite has long been a curiosity for gem collectors. Compact material can make wonderful cabochons, and transparent crystals are rare and usually tiny. In 1974, blue pectolite was found in the Dominican Republic. Known by the trade name Larimar, this blue gem has since become a popular jewelry stone.

Larimar (pectolite) sterling silver ring
Larimar and sterling silver ring. Photo courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and Linda Roberts Jewelry.
pectolites - South Africa
Radial growth of white pectolites with pearly luster, 7.0 x 6.3 x 3.4 cm, N'Chwaning Mines, Kuruman, Kalahari manganese fields, Northern Cape Province, South Africa. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Comments

Although the mineral pectolite occurs in locations across the globe, these fibrous aggregates are seldom cohesive enough to cut and usually too soft and fragile for jewelry wear. However, if pectolite's fibers grow intertwined, it can become jade-like in toughness as well as appearance.

pectolite crystals - Quebec
Pectolite crystals, Jeffrey Pit, Asbestos, Quebec, Canada. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Larimar Qualities

With colors ranging from white to various shades of blue, pectolite from the Dominican Republic is the loveliest in the world. Traces of copper contribute to this blue coloration. The finest stones are dark blue and translucent, but sky blue specimens with cloud-like patterns are also highly prized. Known by the trade name Larimar, this variety of compact pectolite can take a very high polish. Though locally abundant, Larimar is a rare gem material.

Larimar (pectolite) cabochon set
Pectolites: Larimar cabochons (~ 6 to 30 carats), Dominican Republic. Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Identifying Characteristics

The minerals pectolite and serandite form a series. Pectolite is the calcium (Ca) end member, while serandite is the manganese (Mn) end member.

Refractive Indices

The refractive indices (RI) of this series vary with the presence of Ca and Mn.

Larimar - pectolite serandite series
Chart © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Phenomenal Effects

Fibrous material has chatoyancy that can give pectolite cabochons a cat's eye effect.

cat's eye Larimar cabochon
Larimar cabochon with cat's eye on a crystal base. Photo by Keyaki. Licensed under CC By-SA 3.0.

Luminescence

In longwave (LW) ultraviolet light:

  • Orange-pink (Bergen Hill, New Jersey)
  • Cream white (Lendalfoot, Scotland)

In shortwave (SW) ultraviolet light:

  • Greenish yellow (Scotland)
  • Yellowish, orange with green areas (Magnet Cove, Arkansas and Lake County, California)
  • Faint yellow with phosphorescence (Paterson, New Jersey)

Synthetics

Although no known pectolite synthetics exist, simulants have surfaced, such as ceramics and "Victoria Stone" and "Imori Stone" glass pieces. However, a gemological analysis can easily identify these.

Some Larimar gems may resemble turquoise or dyed howlite, and other compact pectolites may resemble jade. Again, these can usually be distinguished easily.

simulated Larimar and quartz earrings
German silver earrings with simulated Larimar and quartz stones. Photo courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and Gem & Jewel Craft.

Enhancements

No known common gem treatments.

Sources

The Dominican Republic is the principal source of gem-quality pectolite. Larimar is typically cabbed instead of faceted.

Larimar (pectolite) rough - Dominican Republic
Larimar stones from the Filipinas Larimar Mine, Los Checheses, Sierra de Baoruco, Barahona Province, Dominican Republic. Photo by Géry Parent. Licensed under CC By-ND 2.0.

In Canada, the Thetford Mines and Asbestos, Quebec produce magnificent, prismatic crystals. Indeed, these are the only sources of transparent, facetable pectolite, yielding twinned crystals up to 5" long in colors ranging from white to pale blue-green.

pectolite crystals - Canada
Pectolite: Jeffrey Mines, Asbestos, Quebec, Canada (transparent crystals about 1/4" each). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

In the United States, Alaska produces massive, jade-like stones (used as jade substitutes) as well as fine-grained, pale blue-green material. Magnet Cove, Arkansas yields pinkish manganiferous material. Lake County, California produces dense material suitable for cabochons. New Jersey has numerous sources, including the Paterson area (fine radial sprays), Bernards Township, Franklin, and Sterling Hill.

Other notable sources include the following locations:

  • Czech Republic; Greenland (manganiferous material); Japan; Morocco; Russia; South Africa; Sweden; Scotland, United Kingdom.
pectolite vug - New Jersey
These peachy mauve spheres in this vug are made from thousands of densely packed radial acicular pectolite crystals. 9.6 x 5.9 x 2.9 cm, Millington Quarry, Bernards Township, Somerset Co., New Jersey, USA. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Stone Sizes

Lapidaries have cut cabochons up to a few inches from dense, massive, or fibrous material. Small, faceted gems mined in 1973 from Asbestos, Quebec range in size up about 3 carats, but only a few stones have been faceted.

Care

Although some pectolite stones, especially Larimar, are relatively tough, their hardness range (from 4.5 to 6) makes them susceptible to scratches. Popular jewelry stones, such as quartz, topaz, corundum, and diamond, will scratch them. So, store your pectolite jewelry separately from such pieces. Use protective settings for rings. Pectolite cabs make excellent stones for pendants and earrings.

Clean your gems and jewelry pieces with a soft brush, mild detergent, and warm water. Consult our gemstone jewelry cleaning guide for more recommendations.

Larimar (pectolite) and diamond dress ring
Dress ring with larimar cabochon and brilliant-cut diamonds. Photo courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and Fellows.

Joel E. Arem, Ph.D., FGA

Dr. Joel E. Arem has more than 60 years of experience in the world of gems and minerals. After obtaining his Ph.D. in Mineralogy from Harvard University, he has published numerous books that are still among the most widely used references and guidebooks on crystals, gems and minerals in the world.

Co-founder and President of numerous organizations, Dr. Arem has enjoyed a lifelong career in mineralogy and gemology. He has been a Smithsonian scientist and Curator, a consultant to many well-known companies and institutions, and a prolific author and speaker. Although his main activities have been as a gem cutter and dealer, his focus has always been education. joelarem.com


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