Gemstone Industry

Guide to Buying Lapis Lazuli Blue Stone

The Mintly Team

The Mintly Team

December 13, 2023

Lapis Lazuli, often referred to simply as ‘lapis,’ has been a prized blue stone for thousands of years, adored for its deep, celestial blue color. It has a history steeped in art, culture, and tradition, having been used for jewelry and  ornamentation. Lapis Blue Stone is ground up as a pigment for the ultramarine paint favored by the grand masters of the Renaissance. This guide will provide you with essential insights to help you make an informed purchase of this beautiful stone.

Origins and History

Lapis lazuli, often referred to as lapis for short, is a deep blue metamorphic rock that has been prized since antiquity for its vibrant color. Its name stems from the Latin word ‘lapis’ meaning ‘stone,’ and the Persian ‘lazhward,’ referring to its signature blue color. The history of lapis lazuli is as rich and deep as its color, dating back over 6,000 years.

The earliest lapis lazuli mines are believed to be those in the Badakhshan province of northeastern Afghanistan, which remain the world’s leading source of the stone. These mines have been in operation since the 7th millennium BCE and were well-known to ancient civilizations across Asia, Africa, and Europe. Lapis lazuli’s rarity and vibrant hue made it an object of great value and a symbol of wealth and power.

In ancient Sumeria, around 4000 BCE, lapis lazuli was cherished by royalty and priests and was used to create high-status artifacts such as seals and beads. The stone also held significant spiritual meaning, representing the heavens due to its celestial blue color, often speckled with Pyrite, which resembles stars in the night sky.

Ancient Egyptians held lapis in similarly high regard, with the golden sarcophagus of King Tutankhamun famously inlaid with the stone. It was also ground into powder to create the pigment ultramarine, used by artists to paint the finest and most expensive blue in the frescoes and manuscripts during the Renaissance period.

Through trade, the stone reached the Mediterranean and further into Europe. It became a symbol of status and was often reserved for the finest artworks and religious iconography. The rich ultramarine pigment extracted from lapis lazuli was more expensive than gold in medieval Europe, a testament to its enduring allure.


Everything You Need to Know about Lapis Blue Stone Lazuli Jewelry

Color and Quality of Lapis Lazuli

The quality is primarily judged by the intensity and uniformity of its color. Most sought after stones boast a rich, ultramarine blue. High-quality lapis lazuli may contain little to no calcite, which appears as white streaks or layers, and pyrite, which manifests as metallic gold flecks. While pyrite inclusions do not necessarily detract from the stone’s quality, they should be finely distributed, adding to the stone’s allure.

The finest grade lapis lazuli has a uniform, deep blue hue without any visible calcite and just minor pyrite. Lower grades have less intense blue shades and may include visible white patches of calcite. The color is so prized that it has historically been ground into a powder to create ultramarine pigment, a colorant for some of the most important artworks in history.

The texture of lapis lazuli also affects its quality. A smooth finish that enhances the stone’s natural luster is preferred. Rough or granular textures suggest lower quality. When cut and polished as gemstones or used in carvings, the best examples display a consistent, deep blue throughout the piece.

Authenticity is another significant factor as synthetic and imitation stones are common. Only genuine lapis lazuli possesses the subtle variations and complex interplay between its components that experts can distinguish. Overall, the finest lapis lazuli combines an intense blue color with minimal calcite inclusions and artfully interspersed pyrite, creating a mesmerizing appearance that has been treasured throughout millennia.

Characteristics to Consider

  • Color: Deep, vibrant blue with minimal white patches or streaks.
  • Texture: Look for a smooth, consistent texture without too many granules or rough patches.
  • Cut: Lapis is often cut into cabochons or beads but can also be found in various shapes for pendants and inlays.
  • Clarity: Translucent to opaque. Some translucency can add depth, but lapis is primarily valued for its color saturation.
  • Treatment: Natural lapis is more valuable. Some stones are dyed to enhance their color; a reputable dealer will disclose any treatments.

Value and Price Factors of Lapis blue stone

Lapis lazuli, a gemstone prized since antiquity for its intense blue color, is valued for various factors that contribute to its price. The value of lapis lazuli is primarily determined by its color, with the most sought-after stones boasting an even, vivid blue hue, often with a touch of violet. The presence of calcite or pyrite inclusions can either enhance or detract from its value; while uniform pyrite speckles can be desirable, giving the stone a unique sparkle, excessive white calcite can lower its quality and price.

The quality of the polish and the cut also influence the value of lapis lazuli. A smooth finish that enhances the stone’s natural color will increase its appeal. Additionally, the size of the gem contributes to its worth; larger specimens with deep, uniform coloration are generally more valuable.

The source of lapis lazili affects its price as well. Stones mined from the historic deposits in Afghanistan’s Sar-e-Sang district are often considered of higher quality compared to those from other locations. Rarity and market demand further impact pricing, with high-quality lapis lazuli being rarer and thus more expensive.

Authenticity plays a crucial role since imitations exist. Authentic stones, properly certified, fetch higher prices. Finally, the craftsmanship of the jewelry piece containing lapis lazuli can significantly affect its overall value and price on the market.

Synthetic and Imitation Lapis

Beware of imitations or synthetic stones. Reconstituted lapis consists of lower grade lapis ground up, mixed with a binding agent, and then dyed to resemble high-quality lapis lazuli. These synthetics are often very convincing, so purchasing from reputable dealers is essential.

Caring for Lapis Blue Stone

Lapis lazuli, a semi-precious stone valued for its deep blue color, is composed of lazurite, calcite, and pyrite. To maintain its vibrant hue and luster, proper care is essential.

Keep lapis away from harsh chemicals; even mild soap can damage it. Instead, use a soft, damp cloth for cleaning. Scratching is a risk due to its relatively soft nature (5-5.5 on the Mohs scale), so store it separately from other jewelry. Lapis is one of the Blue stone useful for Jewelry.

Avoid exposing lapis to extreme temperatures or rapid temperature changes, which can cause cracks. It’s also sensitive to pressure and impact, so handle it gently to prevent chipping.

Lapis should be kept away from direct sunlight for prolonged periods, as its color can fade. When not in use, wrap it in a soft cloth and place it in a padded box. With these precautions, lapis lazuli can last for generations, retaining its ancient allure and regal bearing.

Where to Buy Lapis Blue stone

To purchase this stone, consider reputable gemstone dealers or jewelers who specialize in fine minerals. High-quality lapis lazuli often comes from mines in Afghanistan. This place is known for producing rich, intensely colorful stones with minimal white calcite streaks. It carries pyrite inclusions that look like flecks of gold.

Buyers should frequent well-established jewelry stores or online marketplaces with a guarantee of authenticity. For the raw stone, mineral shows or specialty rock shops are ideal. Online platforms like Etsy or eBay can also be sources for lapis lazuli. But it’s crucial to review seller feedback and return policies.

Are you someone having interest in the metaphysical properties of stones?.  New Age stores often carry lapis blue stone in various forms, including tumbled stones, beads, and jewelry. Always inquire about the stone’s origin and any treatments it may have undergone. This is to ensure you’re getting a natural and high-quality piece.

Who can wear?

According to Vedic astrology, the zodiac signs for wearing the Lapis or “Lajward” are Sagittarius, Libra, Capricorn, and Taurus. Lapis Lazuli is the birthstone of February born. The Ruling Planet  isJupiter. Saturn is considered its epithet, and its sign is Sagittarius. If you are someone born in these months, you can wear Lapis Blue Stone in Jewelry as Pendant or Bracelet.

Ethical Considerations

It’s worth noting that some lapis mines are located in conflict regions. Ethically sourcing stones is becoming increasingly important to many consumers. Hence, inquire about the origin and consider purchasing from dealers who support ethical mining practices.


Buying lapis lazuli can be a rewarding experience when you’re equipped with the right knowledge. Remember to focus on color quality, be aware of synthetic imitations, and always purchase from reputable sources. Are you drawn to lapis for its historical significance or its stunning beauty?. Owning a piece of this celestial stone is owning a piece of history itself.

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