After our ‘tour’ of St. Thomas via taxi, we got off to look around in downtown Charlotte Amalie, the capitol of the US Virgin Islands. Both Harriet and I were immediately turned off by what we saw…jewelry after jewelry store front. In just one block, there were at least 40 jewelry stores and it went on for several blocks! Each store had a barker out front to entice you into their store. I finally picked one store at random and stopped to talk with the barker. He, (like an excellent front man) got me into the store to talk to the owner who, of course, just happened to want to show me all his wares while he answered my questions.
My main question was how could any one store make a living since there were so many identical stores. What I gathered (without the owner saying this exactly) was that he would discount any piece in the shop up to 90%. So basically, all the prices in all the stores were highly inflated and it was up to your power of negotiation to get the best deal. But that same 'deal' on the same piece of jewelry could be different depending on which shop you went to.
I asked if he was successful and he said he just opened two more jewelry stores this year. I guess the answer was a resounding yes! Their patrons were 100% from the cruise ships as they would not even open if there wasn’t a ship in port. (We were the only ship in port and several places were closed, so apparently, it didn’t pay for them to open unless there was MORE than one cruise ship in port!)
The main street clearly put me on jewelry overload! So, unless you really wanted to shop at all the duty free jewelry shops, you had to go down secret side streets to find cool stores that had other things than jewelry. We found a store called SOS Antiques- which stood for Shipwrecker's Ocean Salvage. Now this was a REALLY cool store; a fascinating antique maritime gallery which specialized in nautical items. There were all manner of maps and charts, maritime prints, instruments such as sextants and barometers, cannons, swords, flintlock pistols and daggers, most of which dated from around the 16th century. Either the owners or other people would find the items from diving or washed up on the shores of the island and bring them in to be turned into cool pieces.
There were collections of treasure coins both local and from other shipwrecks around the world. I began to imagine the stories behind the items--- real-life pirates who once walked the streets and sailed the seas of St. Thomas, complete with wooden legs and eye patches. (Did you know that there was a real reason for the eye patches, and not just because all those pirates had lost their eyes? When they boarded a ship and went below where it was dark and gloomy, they’d switch the eye patch to the other eye so they could immediately see and not be beheaded while waiting for their eyes to adjust, and vice versa so they would not be blinded when they went back up on deck!) What was also fun to see in the store was that even the broken pieces of nautical antiques were creatively used. For example, I saw a broken piece of pottery that they had turned into a really cool looking lamp!
And here I succumbed to the lure of treasure when I found a piece of jewelry that sang to me. It was a delicate bracelet made of silver and Larimar. It had a broken clasp and the saleswoman took it into the back room to get fixed. Shortly thereafter, out of the back room came my now fixed bracelet carried by this little old jeweler complete with lamp/magnifier head gear, so I knew that this was not a cheap piece from China. Of course, never having heard of Larimar before I had to learn all about it and the sales woman was very accommodating in telling me Larimar’s history.
In 1916, a Father Miguel Domingo Fuertes Loren found some blue gems along the beach in the Dominican Republic and requested permission to mine the stone. He was denied his permit and nothing more was heard about these gems until 1974 when a Dominican and a Peace Corps volunteer found a piece of this blue stone on the shoreline. As I’ve discussed from the history posts of the other islands, the indigenous people of the Dominican Republic were the Taino. The Taino called the gems, Blue Stone, because they believed the stone came from the beautiful blue sea. Based on this, the Dominican then named the stone for his daughter, Larissa, and the Spanish word for sea, ‘mar’ based on the beautiful, clear blue Caribbean waters and thus, Larimar was named.
Larimar has many healing attributes associated with it. It represents peace and clarity and Healers use it as a calming stone for Earth healing, as well as an aid in communication and the expression of emotions. Larimar picks up our needs and quickly aligns with our own energy field. It is associated with the crown, heart, third eye and throat chakras, which cleanse emotional blocks resulting in peaceful and positive emotions while facilitating inner wisdom and outer manifestation. Finally it teaches respect, love and nurturing, soothing and uplifting hurt, fear, and depression with love.
Larimar also has a direct connection to the lost island of Atlantis. Edgar Cayce predicted that on one of the Caribbean islands, (being what he believed was left of Atlantis), a blue stone of Atlantean origin would be found with extraordinary healing attributes. So not only is Larimar used in healings but also to access the lost knowledge of Atlantis. Finally, Larimar is often times called the Dolphin Stone. Dolphins are frequently associated with Atlantis and Larimar was used as a tool to enhance communication with them. What’s fascinating is that Larimar often shows patterns with dolphins, angels, and Greek columns, although my stones in my bracelets are small enough that I can only pick out a Dolphin eye here and there.
So I am very happy with my shopping! I have a beautiful Larimar bracelet. I learned about a brand new gem. I am being soothed by this gem and I’m connected to the lost city of Atlantis! Now, how cool is that?