Lapis Lazuli buying guide

by Sheweta Dhanuka

In case you are planning to buy this opaque beauty then do go through this article thoroughly as it provides buying tips and facts about the gemstone. Most of us are aware that the quality gemstone whether precious or semi precious is judged on the basis on four important Cs viz. colour, cut, clarity and carat weight. And of course other characteristics are crucial too like origin, enhancements, precautions etc. So one after the other we would discuss all these characteristics with respect to this amazing gemstone.

Lapis Lazuli is the only gemstone having two words in its name. "Lapis" is derived from the Latin word meaning stone and "Lazuli" is derived from an Arabian word "azul" meaning blue. However, few people say “Lazuli’ is derived from Persian "lazhward", that also means blue. In every language, a well-defined name for the gemstone that is blue in color.  It is an exceptional stone found thousands of years ago, to be more precise more than 7000 thousands years. It is December birthstone and anniversary gemstone for the 7th and 9th year of marriage.

In case you are planning to buy this opaque beauty then do go through this article thoroughly as it provides buying tips and facts about the gemstone. Most of us are aware that the quality gemstone whether precious or semi precious is judged on the basis on four important Cs viz. color, cut, clarity and carat weight. And of course other characteristics are crucial too like origin, enhancements, precautions etc. So one after the other we would discuss all these characteristics with respect to this amazing gemstone. First lets start with color.

Color

Lapis Lazuli consist of deep blue color with golden shining pyrite inclusions. The pyrite inclusions should be too small. A genuine and valuable stone would not have any white calcite veins or streaks present on its surface. Blue color is formed due to the presence of the sulfuric contents of Lasurite while pyrite inclusions are the result of iron content in the composition. Sometimes, few countries produce purplish-blue, greenish blue colors as well. The reason for these different color shades is that every country would have different composition of the minerals present in the mixture of the rock yielding the gemstone although the elements are all same.

Cut

This gemstone when cut produces foul smell. The smell determines the originality of the gem. It is cut in all the possible shapes like other gemstones for example oval, heart, round, pear etc. Cabochons are mostly in high demand. Polished flat slabs and beads are also popular.

Clarity

Next important characteristic is clarity. This gemstone has no fractures in it and is opaque in nature. True stones do not possess any cracks and have greasy luster

Carat Weight

It occurs in large sizes as rough. After the essential gemstone processing the carat weight decreases. High quality gemstone more than 15 carat weight is quite rare and fetches very high price. Carat weight between 6-15 with similar quality is equally rare, difficult to find and would be very expensive. However, most commonly available carat weight is 5-6 that can be afforded by the common man.

Price

This gemstone is widely available at different prices, from expensive to affordable range. Most expensive stone would be from Afghan mines consisting of intense evenly spread blue color with very little pyrite inclusions and no calcite white colored lines. Pyrite inclusions present in large sizes or patches lower the value of the gem. In the same way white colored calcite lines if visible to the naked eye produces unattractive discoloration on the edges of the gem and decreases the cost and the gemstone would fall in the affordable range.

Similarly, any sort of cracks or fractures present in the gemstone would decrease the price. More the amount of fractures appearing on the surface lesser shall be the price. Shades like purplish blue and greenish blue are valued less in terms of money. While making the purchase of the gemstone or its jewelry, buyer should always ask about the enhancement of the gems. Gems are enhanced when it is of inferior quality hence, it would decrease the price.

Source

First mine to produce this blue colored beauty is in Afghanistan. The mine had huge deposits and offered superior quality gemstone for many years. It still continues to give the high quality gems. A little less superior quality gemstones are procured from the mines at Chile, Siberia, United States, Burma and Canada. Other countries like Russia, Italy, Mongolia and Pakistan also produce this gemstone but in less quantity.

Enhancement

Inferior quality of Lapis Lazuli produced by few countries are enhanced with the use of modern technology. It is mostly dyed or stained in order to improve the intensity and the uniformity of color. In this process the white colored calcite lines are stained and given blue color. However, the new intense color obtained is not stable for a longer duration and might fade with the passage of time. Other enhancement methods used are waxing and resin impregnations. These are performed to enhance durability and color of the stone.

Imitations

Buyers need to careful from buying the imitations at the price of genuine stone. Glass and plastics in different forms colored in blue are sold as original stones. Synthetic stones are also available in the market. Buying these synthetic stones is no harm but buyer should be aware of the fact that these are very cheap. Semi precious gemstone known as jasper is often dyed blue in color and pasted with copper and sold as Lapis. These imitations can be judged easily, as it does not contain any flecks of pyrites. And if it is present then it would be patches making the gemstone very unattractive. In order to avoid all the future surprises with respect to the quality of the gemstone, purchases should be made from the reputable and recognized sellers/dealers.

Precautions

It requires precautions and care as it rates between 5-6 Mohs on the hardness scale. Too much exposure to direct sunlight and large temperature changes must be avoided. Also it must be protected from chemicals and acid substances present in cosmetics and household cleaning agents else it would spoil the gemstone. As this gem is a rock that is porous in nature, all the jewelry items should be cleaned with mild soapy water and must be fully wiped off fully with a soft cloth. Little amount of moisture left behind, might harm the durability of the gem mounted in the ornaments.

Uses

It is treasured for years for the jewelry items. Necklace, rings and carved pendent made of this unique blue beauty had gained a lot of popularity among the gemstone lovers. The jewelry items can be made up 14 K or 18 K yellow gold and sterling silver. It is also paired with other gemstones.

Apart from the jewelry, in olden days it was also used for making oil paintings. First it was pulverized later added to a mixture of binding agents and oil to create exotic blue colored pigment called as ultramarine.  Therefore, old paintings using this gem as pigment never fade and look vibrant after so many years too. Today also few painters use it in their paintings. At present along with jewelry it is used for renovations and restorations especially when the historic appearance is desired. It is also used as lapidary material for making hand crafted carvings and decorative items.

Beliefs

In ancient times, it was believed to impart knowledge and wisdom. It was said to cure physical disorders pertaining to heart, lungs, throat, eyes and ears. It also solved the problems of insomnia, depression, recurring fevers and anxiety. It was thought to keep soul free from all sort of fear and jealous there by bringing peace and self-acceptance.

Today, across the globe people wear this stone as the symbol of truth and friendship. It is believed that the wearer of this gemstone in any form attains harmony in his/her relationships. Lapis Lazuli has two words in its name and so two important significance. One it makes the wearer beautiful and second it offers true relationships. It is certainly an exquisite gemstone that makes the wearer attractive from outside as well as from inside!!!

 
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