Larimar Bead Jewelry: Keys to Grading & Buying

Larimar bead bracelet and ring jewelry

If you are looking for something a little different, larimar bead jewelry can be an exciting alternative to traditional gemstones.

Larimar is a beautiful opaque blue gemstone. It is found in a softer range of colors than the gemstone turquoise and other blue gemstones. Larimar ranges from an almost white color to deep blue shades. The most popular shade used for beads is a gentle turquoise or greenish blue. The distinct patterning within larimar and the color variation means that stunning beaded items of jewelry can be found.

What Is Larimar?

Larimar is a relatively new discovery among gemstones, and is only found in the Dominican Republic. The origin of the stone is volcanic from ancient volcanoes. It is part of the group of pectolite minerals.

Although it was first found in 1916, it was not until the stone was rediscovered in 1974 that further exploration took place and mining started. Today the stone is mined in open cast mines and is sold as a gemstone to jewelers and collectors.

Larimar is quite a soft stone, registering 4.5 - 5 on Moh's scale (a diamond measures 10 on this scale). This means that it is subject to scratches and knocks. While this means that care needs to be taken if larimar is set into jewelry such as rings or bangles, this should not have a negative effect on beads.

Larimar Grading

Larimar is graded according to certain key features. These include:

  • Color: The color ranges from white through turquoise to deep blues. Some larimar has red streaks running through it. These red inclusions are the result of iron and can add an interesting feature to the stone. Deeper colored stones are more highly prized, however for jewelry purposes many people prefer the diverse and interesting variations in the lighter stones.
  • Luster: Good quality larimar should have a luster. This means it should have a glossy, silky shine. The shine of the stone will be more gentle and less harsh than other gemstones, reflecting the soft make up of the stone.
  • Luminosity: Larimar has a natural luminosity. Due to the way the molecules make up larimar, they reflect light through the stone and it appears to have an almost inner light.
  • Clarity: Highly graded larimar is of a constant color without inclusions. Other grades of larimar have patterning and a combination of colors. In a similar manner to the color choice, many people actually prefer the streaks and lacy effect that is contained in many pieces of larimar, giving it an interesting effect.
  • Translucence: Larimar, although opaque, is slightly translucent. A small amount of light should pass through it, giving it an added depth of color.
  • Chatoyance: A luminous band with a silky luster (like that typical of tiger's eye gemstones).

Buying Larimar Bead Jewelry

Gemstone beaded jewelry is often striking and highly unique. Many gemstones are found in such wide variations of colors and qualities, that two pieces are rarely the same. Larimar bead jewelry is a prime example of this. The range of colors through from the palest blue to deep navy mean that not only is each piece of jewelry unique, so is each individual bead. This makes larimar beads a very exciting and interesting choice.

  • When buying items of jewelry made with larimar, it is important to see the stones and to get an idea of the color range. This should be possible even if buying online as many jewelers will be happy to take photographs or scans of the jewelry and email it to prospective customers.
  • As with any form of jewelry buying, purchasing from a reputable source is important. This is particularly relevant when buying larimar beads. Being a new and relatively uncommon gemstone, people are not always familiar with the stone and this can make identifying fakes or sub-quality stones problematic.
  • While online auction houses such as provide a wonderful opportunity to buy interesting items of jewelry from throughout the world, it can occasionally also be problematic. It is important to check a sellers feedback to make sure that other customers have been happy with their purchase.

Larimar is an ideal choice for someone looking for something different. The fact that the stone is still relatively new and not as widely available as other gemstones, means that jewelry made from larimar beads is sure to turn heads.

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Larimar Bead Jewelry: Keys to Grading & Buying