Five top tips for buying Lapis Lazuli
With its deep blue color and many believed spiritual powers, lapis lazuli has been an incredibly sought after stone for thousands of years. Derived from the latin word for stone and the Persian word for blue, lapis lazuli is just that: a blue stone. Often referred to as simply lapis, this stone has had many uses over the centuries and is currently widely available in forms such as earrings, necklaces, rings and even small sculptures. When shopping for a piece of lapis lazuli, there are several things to take into consideration to ensure you get the best quality piece within your budget. Choosing the perfect piece for you can be daunting, but this shopping guide can help you in this process. Lets start by learning a little more about lapis.
Lapis lazuli is a not very hard stone hailing primarily from Afghanistan and the middle east. Lapis lazuli is a combination of several different types of minerals. The first component is lazurite. Lazurite is the most prominent mineral contained in lapis and is responsible for the vibrant blue color of the stone. Calcite is another component and it is white in color. An abundance of calcite will appear as a white streak or thin line on the surface of the stone. The third component of lapis is pyrite. Pyrite is silver or gold in color and is responsible for the small shiny flecks often seen on the surface of lapis. Mountainous regions of Afghanistan have an abundance of these minerals which make it a perfect place to mine lapis in large amounts. The stone has also been discovered in regions of Pakistan, Russia and Chile and in recent times, has been discovered in North American in the mountains of Colorado, California and Canada. Lapis ranges in colors from deep dark blue to blueish greens and violets. Traditionally and most ideally, lapis will be dark blue in color with very little to no visible inclusions of calcite and pyrite. These so called perfect stones are most typically found in the mines of Afghanistan. Finding a stone without any visible calcite or pyrite inclusions however is nearly impossible so a stone that does contain visible inclusions is thought of as normal and can also have great value. Many people actually find that they desire the white streaks of calcite or the shimmering flecks of pyrite in their stones.
Now that we know a little more about what lapis is, lets dive into the Five Top Tips for Purchasing Lapis Lazuli.
Tip One: Don’t be fooled!
Lapis, though very unique in its color and composition, is often imitated by colored glasses and plastics. Vendors will also take an imitation stone and color it, changing the surface to mimic the traditional dark blue speckled surface of authentic lapis. To be sure you are purchasing an authentic piece of lapis be prepared to do your research, reading buying guides and shopping tips, and asking questions of the jeweler from whom you are buying. If you are unsure if your lapis jewelry is authentic, a gemologist or high end jeweler will give you an honest opinion. Always shop around before making a final decision. Doing your research is absolutely necessary when purchasing a piece of lapis.
Dying, waxing, and resin impregnation are most common practices to enhance the color of lapis lazuli. These methods are usually unstable causing and the color enhancement will fade with time. Therefore, it is very important to make sure that the lapis jewelry you are buying is not enhanced in any way!
Tip Two: Know what you like!
When it comes to lapis, the more simple the cut, the more the stone will shine and exhibit its natural beauty. Typical cuts for lapis are round and oval. Lapis has a different texture than many gemstones, such as diamonds and emeralds, and therefore can’t be cut in the same way as these ultra hard gemstones. Many jewelers do get creative turning lapis into hearts and figurines which are used more often for household decorations rather than jewelry. Lapis is often
found in the form of a bead. Beads vary greatly in shape and size. Lapis beads are common in jewelry and are often paired with other stones that are thought to carry a similar spiritual power as lapis. Beads will appear primarily in bracelets and earrings, while an oval cut stone is common in rings. With all lapis jewelry it is easy to get creative. Pendants of a rough, unfinished piece of lapis can be wire wrapped to give the wearer a new age look while a small polished stone set in a ring will come across more refined and elegant. It is always important to consider the lifestyle of the wearer to determine the best piece and make it easy for that person to fit the lapis jewelry into their lives.
Tip Three: Know your budget!
Lapis Lazuli is not a terribly expensive stone. You can acquire a small piece of rough stone for around thirteen dollars. This however might not be exactly what you are looking for as rough pieces of lapis do not have the glossy finished surface of your traditional lapis. A finished piece of lapis, depending on its size, can cost you from ten to fifty dollars. Many finished lapis pieces can reach prices well into the hundreds. The price also majorly depends on the setting you
choose for your stone. To purchase a piece of lapis in a white gold setting will be far more expensive than a piece set in sterling silver or even stainless steel. Like many other gemstones, the four C’s are always good to be aware of. These four are color, cut, clarity, and carat . If the lapis is large in size, a rich blue color, has little visible pyrite and other impurities (whitish calcite matrix), and is in a symmetrical oval or round cut, it will likely be more expensive.
Origin of the stone is another important factor that determines the cost of lapis lazuli. Persian and Afghan stones are more valuable (due to their medium and uniform dark blue color and the absence of pyrite and calcite impurities) as compared to lapis lazuli from Russia and Serbia. Least valuable Lapis comes from Chile as these stones contain large calcite matrix.
Tip Four: Know how to care for your stone!
Caring for Your Stone
Caring for your lapis is fairly straightforward and easy. To properly care for and clean your stone, simply wash it with warm water using a mild dish soap. Remember to dry the stone right away as the stone is porous and can absorb water. to protect your stone, store it away from other stones and gemstones because they can easily scratch one another. Be sure not to use harsh chemicals on your stone which could damage the color and quality. If your stone is in a setting
such as silver or gold, a simple over the counter cleaner will work to make caring for and cleaning your stone easy.
Tip Five: Understand the symbolism of your stone:
The basic spiritual properties of lapis are thought to be wisdom and truth. Many cultures also pair lapis with wealth and royalty, most likely stemming from its rarity and cost in ancient times and the fact that usually only very wealthy people such as royals obtained lapis and its intense blue color. Lapis is thought to produce a clear mind and aid the wearer in decision making and leadership roles. Those passionate about constant learning and the pursuit of knowledge can
benefit from wearing lapis. It is also said to help with communication. Placing a small lapis sculpture in your home can positively encourage effective communication with the people in your home. Wearing lapis can aid you in communicating with co workers, friends, and the people whom you come into contact with throughout your day.
Shopping online tips
From Ebay to Etsy, lapis is fairly easy to find online. The only major challenge of shopping online is not being able to try the jewelry on first. A good idea is to go through your own jewelry collection to get an idea of the length necklace, or the size ring you like so you have a better idea of what you are looking for when embarking on your search. Website such as Amazon, Ebay and Etsy will allow you to search for lapis in a very specific way, allowing you to search within a budget and style. Remember, the more specific you are, the fewer results you will have to wade through to find what you like. Simply searching for ‘lapis lazuli’ can produce thousands of results, but searching for ‘lapis lazuli, silver, ring’ with pricing between $50 and $100 will get you closer to finding what you are looking for and give you some great options to chose from. Always make sure you are using a trusted site when buying online to avoid being scammed, and remember to ask any questions you may have to the seller before making the commitment. Whether you are purchasing lapis to wear round your neck or place symbolically in your home you can use this guide to help you on your search for the best purchase. Educate yourself on the various options for cut, setting, and color to ensure you end up with a piece that makes you happy and enriches your life. Picking out a piece of lapis can be difficult, but with the right information your search can be made easy. No matter which piece you chose, lapis will serve its purpose as a stone that exhibits beauty, elegance and wisdom in any form.