Collection: Lapis Lazuli

The ancient Roman natural historian Pliny the Elder called lapis lazuli “a fragment of the starry firmament,” in admiration of its colors, deep blue with twinkling bits of gold.

Since ancient times, Lapis Lazuli has been used for sculptures, vases, ornamental objects, and as well as for jewelry. Archeologists think that the use of lapis lazuli originated in Afghanistan, then spread to Asia, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and then the Roman world. The name lapis lazuli comes from the Persian word "lazhward" for blue stone. Lapis lazuli gets its color from the sulfur in the mineral lazurite. The highest quality stones have a blue to purplish-blue hue and an even color, with a tone of 75-85%. Bluer lapis tend to be in the lighter range, and stones with purple hues tend toward the darker range.

Color

Deep blue, azure blue, violet-blue, greenish blue.

Clarity

Lapis lazuli stones are opaque, but most stones are included with pyrite, calcite, or both. Small, well-distributed pyrite inclusions can look like stars strewn across the night sky.

Major Sources

Only Afghanistan and Pakistan yield the finest lapis lazuli in commercially interesting quantities. The Colorado material is quite fine but of limited availability.

  • Badakshan, Afghanistan: among the oldest operating mines in the world (7,000 years). Lapis occurs in large blocks and crystals in white matrix. Source of the world’s finest lapis.
  • Pakistan: solid, deep blue color with no white calcite spots and just a sprinkling of brassy, yellow pyrite.
  • Colorado: stringers in limestone, dark color, with much pyrite, from Italian Mountain in the western part of the state.
  • California: blue-gray with white spots.
  • Studyanka River, Mongolia: light blue lapis, with pyrite.
  • The Chilean Andes: gray and blue mixture, color inferior to Afghan material.
  • Italy; Labrador, Canada; Mogok, Myanmar.
Treatments

Can be dyed for a more darker blue

Mineral

Lazurite

Mohs Hardness

5-6

Toughness

Good

Birthstone

September

Care and Cleaning

Before cleaning, test lapis lazuli in a hidden spot with a swab dampen with water to see if any dye is present. Normally, if not dyed, lapis lazuli can be safely cleaned with warm, soapy water and a soft toothbrush. Avoid mechanical cleaning, such as steam or ultrasonic systems, and chemical solvents.

Courtesy of The International Gem Society (IGS)

4 products
  • Lapis Lazuli (Natural, Loose) 21.82 CT Pear Shaped Cabochon Gem Stone
    Lapis Lazuli Cabochon Gem Stone 21.82 CT
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  • Lapis Lazuli (Natural, Loose) 16.32 CT Pear Shaped Cabochon Gem Stone
    Lapis Lazuli Cabochon Gem Stone 16.32 CT
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  • Lapis Lazuli (Natural, Loose) 6.90 CT Pear Shaped Cabochon Gem Stone
    Lapis Lazuli Cabochon Gem Stone 6.90 CT
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  • Lapis Lazuli (Natural, Loose) 4mm Ball Half-Drilled Bead Gem Stones
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