Santo Domingo Feature

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Amber and Larimar—The D.R.'s Indigenous Gems

As attractive as precious gems—and increasingly popular for jewelry both here and in France, the mineral larimar looks particularly attractive when paired with silver. This semiprecious stone is mined in the mountains of the Southwest, in Bahoruco—the only place that this Caribbean blue pectolite has been found.

The national gem, amber, is actually a fossil—petrified tree resin that has been fossilized over a million or so years. Most amber is a golden color with brown tones, but it can be yellow and even black. It may have oddities like spiders and flies trapped inside.

Fakes are everywhere, with plastic being pawned off as amber (it will float in water) and blue beads as larimar. Stick to the better jewelry shops, especially the Euro-owned ones, which have classy pieces with artistic designs. So much of what is sold in the local shops has cheapie settings, which can ruin the stone's beauty.

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