Lapis Lazuli

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Discover the mystical allure of rich, royal blue and sparkling golden specks found in lapis lazuli. Very few gems have such a long and storied history as lapis lazuli. Along with carnelian, it is the oldest known gemstones to be appreciated and worn as adornment. When lapis lazuli was first introduced to Europe, it was called ultramarine, meaning "beyond the sea." The gem was ground to a powder for use as early eye shadow, and as pigment for early oil paints. Today, this rich blue gem still retains the allure that first captivated humans thousands of years ago.

Lapis Lazuli Polished
Lapis Lazuli Classification
Common Name Lapis Lazuli
Species Lapis Lazuli
Lapis Lazuli Optical Properties
Transparency Semitranslucent - Opaque
Dispersion Strength: None
Refractive Index 1.500-1.522
Optic Character NA
Optic Sign NA
Polariscope Reaction Aggregate (AGG)
Fluorescence SWUV: weak to moderate green to yellowish green
LWUV: The white calcite areas might fluoresce pink
CCF Reaction dull reddish brown
Pleochroism None
Lapis Lazuli Characteristic Physical Properties
Hardness 5.5-6
Streak White To Light Blue
Specific Gravity 2.500-3.000 Typical:2.750
Toughness Poor
Inclusions Lapis lazuli commonly contains pyrite and white calcite. The pyrite inclusions in natural stones are randomly scattered throughout the stone and have irregular outlines that are surrounded by darker blue rings.
Luster Vitreous, Waxy
Fracture Granular, Uneven
Cleavage None
Lapis Lazuli Chemistry & Crystallography
Chemical Name Lazurite & calcite & Pyritpe
Crystal System NA
Chemistry Classification Rock

Lapis Lazuli Colors

  • Multi-color Lapis Lazuli Multi-color
  • Blue Lapis Lazuli Blue

Alternate Names


Countries of Origin

Myanmar; Afghanistan; Argentina; Angola; United States of America (the); India; Canada; Pakistan; Unknown; Russian Federation (the); Italy; Chile; Serbia; Tajikistan


Lapis lazuli is an intensely colored royal blue with golden flecks of pyrite and pure white specks of calcite. It is. In the jewelry trade, its name is usually shortened to lapis. Most often cut into beads or en cabochon, you'll love wearing this glorious blue in necklaces and earrings. Exercise care when wearing lapis rings or bracelets. Lapis is softer than many elements - 5 - 6 on the Mohs scale - so be sure to treat it well. Most gemstones are made of a single mineral. Not lapis. It's a rock composed of several materials, most notably calcite, pyrite and lazurite, although many other minerals are present in minimal amounts. They come together in a stone that can quickly become a favorite.


Lapis is porous. It's often dyed to enhance its beauty. Do not use chemicals or ultrasonic cleaners. Wash in warm water and mild soap; rinse thoroughly and dry with a soft cloth.

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More About Lapis Lazuli

Very few gems have as long and storied a history as lapis. Tomb relics of beads, scarabs, and inlaid jewelry date back more than 5,000 years. The ancient Buddhists believed that lapis brought peace of mind and tranquility of soul to the wearer. Considering its rich blue, we can see how they would believe that.

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Gilson Imitation Lapis

Gilson imitation lapis is a man-made lapis simulant that gives the look of the widely appreciated natural gemstone lapis lazuli. Because this imitation jewel has some ingredients and physical properties not shared with natural lapis, it is considered a simulant, as opposed to synthetic stone.

Gilson Imitation Lapis Lapis Lazuli
Gilson Imitation Lapis Classification
Common Name Gilson Imitation Lapis
Gilson Imitation Lapis Optical Properties
Refractive Index 1.53-1.55
Fluorescence SWUV: inert
LWUV: inert
Gilson Imitation Lapis Characteristic Physical properties
Specific Gravity 2.33
Inclusions Gilson imitation lapis will have vibrant and even coloration. Small amounts of minute pyrite particles will be evenly distributed throughout the stone. Surface of the stone might show many small angular, dark violet patches in reflected light. Pyrite inclusions will not have dark blue ring surrounding the inclusion.
Tim Matthews


Tim Matthews

Tim Matthews is President and Chief Executive Officer of Jewelry Television® (JTV), as well as a member of the company's Board of Directors. He oversees and leads all aspects of the company's powerful omni-digital retail platform that uniquely specializes in fine jewelry and gemstones. His passion for business and gemstones has led him to become a recognized expert in the field of gemology. He is a life member of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (Gem-A) and has earned Gem-A's highest degrees, the Gemmology (FGA) and Diamond (DGA) diplomas. He is also a Graduate Gemologist (GG) of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and has also completed GIA's Graduate Diplomas in Diamonds, Colored Stones and Pearls. Under his leadership, JTV has become the leader in the sourcing and selling of color gemstones and jewelry.

This page was created on June 27, 2014.

This page was last edited on October 24, 2019.