Jewelry lovers have treasured lapis lazuli for thousands of years and with good reason.
Most like it not only for its exceptional deep blue color but also for the belief that it has healing properties.
Well, lapis lazuli, which is also known as ‘lapis,’ is a blue metamorphic rock used as a gemstone, ornamental material, and sculpting material for thousands of years. So, lapis has its rightful place in the evolution of jewelry.
Unlike most many gem materials, lapis lazuli isn’t a mineral, but a rock consisting of multiple minerals.
Lapis lazuli’s blue color mainly originates from the composition of lazurite, which is a blue silicate mineral. Other than lazurite, the lapis specimens also contain calcite and pyrite, among other minerals.
Lapis has a range of colors, including deep blue, violets, and bluish green.
Conventionally, lapis will have a dark blue color with little to invisible elements of pyrite and calcite.
It’s, however, almost impossible to find a lapis without some visible pyrite and calcite inclusions.
So, the presence of such inclusions doesn’t, in any way, lower the stone’s value. Most people are usually impressed by the calcite’s white streaks or pyrite’s shimmering flecks.
Afghanistan is the leading source of lapis lazuli in the world. Other countries that produce a significant amount of lapis include Russia, Chile, Canada, and Pakistan.
In the U.S., small quantities of lapis lazuli have been produced in Arizona, California, and Colorado.
Are you looking to purchase a piece of this precious gemstone? You need to keep several factors in mind so you can get a high-quality piece.
Imitations of Lapis Lazuli
Although lapis lazuli is a rare stone, specimens of exceptional quality can be rare. While the market mostly comprises of natural lapis, it’s not uncommon to find imitations. Particularly, plastics and colored glass are the most imitations found.
They can be altered to mimic the look of the authentic dark blue, speckled lapis.
If you aren’t so sure whether a piece of lapis jewelry is genuine, you can get the opinion of a high-end jeweler or gemologist. One of the ways to tell if the lapis jewelry is authentic is that it won’t be valuable.
To reduce the chances of taking home an imitation of lapis, purchase it from a reputed retailer. Ensure the retailer has a proven track record as well. That’s the only way to tell you’ll be sold a genuine piece of lapis jewelry.
Also, don’t go with the first seller you get; shop around to make comparisons on prices and quality so you can make the final decision.
Enhanced Lapis Lazuli
Generally, lapis us neither treated nor enhanced. But at times, waxing, resin impregnation, and dying can be done to enhance its color. Such methods can make the gemstone unstable. Not to mention, the color enhancement is likely to fade with time.
Be sure to confirm with the vendor whether the stone has undergone any enhancement. Avoid treated stones as much as possible.
A simpler cut in lapis will make the stone reveal its natural beauty. The common cuts for lapis are oval and round, often cut en cabochon.
Lapis may at times be faceted, but since it’s an opaque stone, faceting doesn’t contribute much in terms of light performance. On the contrary, it adds interest and depth to the stone’s overall look.
Lapis lazuli has 5 to 5.5 ranking on the Mohs scale, which means it’s quite soft. Although it’s not as hard as sapphires or diamonds, its soft nature means that cutters can creatively turn it into carvings and figurines that are mainly used to decorate households and not jewelry.
Normally, lapis comes in the form of beads of varying shapes and sizes. The beads are common jewelry items that are usually used along with stones believed to contain spiritual power like lapis.
When shopping for necklaces and bracelets, you may realize they contain lapis beads.
The rough lapis Lazuli stones are relatively affordable, but they lack the smooth, shiny look commonly associated with valuable lapis.
Once the stone has been worked on, its pricing starts to rise. Finely grained specimens may have a smooth, polished surface not common in lower grades.
The lapis lazuli jewelry’s setting also contributes to the stone’s overall cost. When set in platinum or gold and matched with other gemstones such as emeralds or diamonds, the cost of lapis lazuli can jump into thousands of dollars.
The upside with this is everyone can find a piece that matches their budget.
If you are on a budget, then you may want to consider silver or steel pieces. But if your budget can allow it, you will like the glamour of lapis in gold settings.
The stone’s origin can determine the overall value of the piece too.
Afghan and Persian stones are more valuable (because of their uniform dark color and a lower percentage of calcite and pyrite impurities) compared to stones from Serbia and Russia. Stones from Chile are the least valuable as they usually contain large amounts of calcite matrix.
Lapis lazuli is typically opaque to the eye. Often, stones with a fine and polished surface don’t have cracks that may make the piece less durable.
The finest color of lapis lazuli should be intense blue with minor flecks of pyrite. Ensure it doesn’t contain visible, white calcite veins and that the pyrite is of a smaller size.
The reason is many pyrite inclusions tend to add discoloration along the edges, making the entire piece less attractive. And you want to put on jewelry that will enhance your bold look, right?
You can easily purchase lapis lazuli online, but the only challenge is you won’t be able to try the piece on.
You can go through your jewelry collection to get more ideas with regard to the size of the earrings or length of a necklace to guide you on what to purchase online. Always, check to ensure you are using a trusted website and read customer reviews, so you don’t get scammed.
If you need guidance in finding a healing piece of lapis lazuli jewelry online, go to this page.