Boasting a deep blue hue, a rich history, and long associations with spiritual power, lapis lazuli jewelry has been sought after for thousands of years.
The gem gets its name from the Latin word for “stone” and the Persian word for “blue,” which is very fitting as that’s exactly what it is, a blue stone. However, some might argue that lapis lazuli is so much more, especially when used in earrings, pendants, necklaces, and other types of jewelry.
What Is Lapis Lazuli?
A semi-precious stone characterized by rich shades of blue, gold, and even white, lapis lazuli often resembles a tiny galaxy frozen in a rock. The gem gets its colors from its specific mineral composition: lazurite, which gives it the blue, calcite for the white, and pyrite for gold or silver. However, it can vary in color from midnight blue and blue-green to intense violet, thanks to small amounts of other minerals.
Unlike other gems like rubies or diamonds, lapis lazuli is very soft. This means it is best used in jewelry when it can retain its original shape or take a simple form like a circle or an oval. These simple shapes also allow the stone’s natural shimmer to truly shine.
How to Shop for Lapis Lazuli
There are several characterizations that you need to take into consideration when shopping for lapis lazuli in order to make sure you get a high-quality stone at the right price.
- Color – The ideal color is an even, rich blue flaked with small specks of gold. Stones that have too much white calcite are not as valuable.
- Clarity – While lapis lazuli is opaque, it should be free from cracks.
- Cut – Like other ornamental stones, the best cuts are simple, like polished beads, flat slabs, or small carvings.
- Source – The best lapis lazuli comes from an ancient mine in Afghanistan. There are a few other well-known deposits in Colorado, Burma, and Chile, but these stones are often mottled with calcite.
- Enhancements – Some dealers enhance lapis lazuli with dyes and stains to hide calcite inclusions and make the blue appear richer. Enhanced stones are not as valuable, so it’s best to have a stone professionally appraised to check for enhancements.
- Imitations – There are many imitation lapis lazuli stones on the market, like synthetic blue spinel, plastic, and glass. Again, it’s best to get a professional appraisal to be safe.
How to Care for Lapis Lazuli
Lapis lazuli is a soft, porous stone and therefore requires special care. To keep it clean and beautiful for years to come, wash it with warm water and mild dish soap, as harsh cleaners can strip the color. Take care to dry it thoroughly as it can absorb water. Store this gem away from other gems or jewelry items, as it’s easily scratched.
Lapis Lazuli Jewelry at F. Silverman Jewelers
From stunning earrings and bracelets to pendants with rich meaning, lapis lazuli jewelry is always a beautiful choice.
Visit F. Silverman Jewelers in Bergen County to learn more about this elegant stone or to browse our collection of fine jewelry.