Lapis Lazuli beads strung with 14kt. yellow gold accents and African trading beads from the 17th Century
What color is it?: Various shades of blue with some qualities being mottled with white calcite and some with yellow pyrite. The finest Lapis Lazuli should an nice even blue color with little or no veining from these other elements.
What is the story behind this gemstone?: For centuries Lapis Lazuli has been prized for jewelry. But it has also been used to make the beautiful blue paint used in Middle Ages art, and has been used as a source of writing instruments, hence the name "lapis" which is Spanish for pencil.
Can I wear it everyday?: Yes, Lapis Lazuli is actually a rock since it is composed of a combination of minerals so it wears very well.
Is it expensive?: Fine natural Lapis Lazuli can be rather pricey. Jewelry with the high quality stones with no calcite or pyrite veins can be quite expensive. However, medium to lower price ranges are possible if you don't mind having some of the vein in the stones.
Is it a birthstone?: No.
What do I need to know before going shopping?: There is quite a bit of treated Lapis Lazuli out on the market. These are stones that are artificially dyed to appear darker in color. Some fingernail polish remover and a Q-Tip will tell, however, since the dye will come off quickly. So be aware that if you are offered a nice strand of dark blue Lapis Lazuli beads for a very low price they may be treated. If you are informed about this at time of sale then there is no problem. But if you are not told you should be wary of high quality beads at low prices. Something is amiss....
Source: Afghanistan, Egypt, South America, other world sources
Chemical: A combination of lazurite and other minerals forming a rock.
Formation: See photo above.
Crystal System: None
Unusual Properties: Streaking of gold pyrite and/or white calcite is considered a preferable quality to some.
Very good imitation of lapis lazuli of which gemologists should be aware
RI: 1.500 - 1.670
Optic Character: None
Specific Gravity: 2.75
Special Identifying Properties and Tests: Natural Lapis Lazuli will show a faint red reaction to the Chelsea Filter
Imitations: Many including Gilson imitation lapis, and varying treatments and dyes of natural low quality stones.
© Copyright 2011 All Rights Reserved. Please read the fine print below:
The information contained in this website is offered free of charge to anyone wishing to learn more about gemology. The information may be downloaded by any student, consumer, or jeweler for your own personal study and use. None of this site can be downloaded for posting on another website or server for any reason. It will be a violation of the copyright for anyone to copy, duplicate, distribute, and/or re-print this material in any format or any medium without written permission. Nor can anyone post this information on a for-profit website without written permission. That will ruin it for everyone and cause the entire site to be erased and canceled. Please honor this copyright for the good of everyone else.