theLapis lazuli, or simply "Lapis" as it is often called, has been a popular gemstone for thousands of years. The word "Lapis" is a traditional Latin word that translates to "stone" and derives from the Arabic and Persian name for the stone of Lapis, which was "Lazaward". Lapis is usually an intense blue. Various places around the world have given the name of the stone to words denoting the color "blue", for example the English word "azure". Fine quality lapis is still considered one of the most auspicious blue gemstones. The stone itself is usually in the form of crystalline marble. Due to its chemical composition, it is technically classified as a rock rather than a mineral. The main chemical element of the stone is lazurite, while other trace elements make up the rest of the composition. The latter are generally a mixture of calcite, sodalite and pyrite; the final color of the specimen is influenced by these quantities. Below we explore Lapis Lazuli in more detail.
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How to Identify Lapis Lazuli
As mentioned earlier, a specimen of Lapis Lazuli is mostly composed of lazurite; the exact amount in each stone varies, but the percentage is usually between 30-40%. Trained professionals will be able to identify lapis by its chemical composition alone. Sometimes Lapis can be confused with other gemstones such as Azurite and Sodalite. As all of these gemstones are opaque blue stones, it can be difficult for non-professionals to distinguish between the three. However, identification is simple if you know what you are looking for. Azurite has a much lower hardness than Lapis and is generally darker blue. Sodalite, on the other hand, generally has a much lighter coloration.
The different colors and types of Lapis Lazuli
While Lapis stones are always blue in color, the exact shade of each specimen may vary. Ranging from deep royal blue to turquoise blue-green, the color of each gemstone is influenced by trace levels of impurities. Lazurite, the main component of lapis, produces the intense royal blue color. Trace minerals, such as afghanite, on the contrary create a pale blue shade.
In most cases, lapis exhibits a royal blue color with a slight greenish tint. Premium lapis is highly saturated and contains no visible calcite. Higher quality specimens may contain flecks of pyrite, but these are golden and attractive, and therefore do not necessarily diminish the value of the stone. On the other hand, if the lapis has an excess of pyrite, the stone will appear dull and green. Specimens of this nature are classified as being of inferior quality.
Like all gemstones, lapis goes by a variety of different trade names. In general, these names are based on the color of the stone, as well as the presence or absence of pyrite and calcite. Below we explore some of the most popular types of lapis on the market today.
Where is Lapis Lazuli found??
First discovered over 6,000 years ago, lapis was originally found in the Western Hindu-Kush mountains of Afghanistan. Today, Afghanistan remains the largest source of lapis, with most deposits being of fine quality and high value. Lapis is also found in various other places around the world, including Angola, Argentina, Canada, Chile, India, Italy, Myanmar, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States.
Healing properties of Lapis Lazuli
Often considered a stone of protection, lapis lazuli can be used to prevent bad luck in everyday life. This stone is also believed to release stress, bringing with it a sense of relaxation and peace. Working to increase self-awareness and encourage self-expression, Lapis can be used to enhance honesty, compassion, and morality; in light of this, Lapis is a popular stone to use in relationships. Inspiring confidence and encouraging people to speak their mind, this gemstone can help strengthen relationships of all kinds by allowing individuals to express their true feelings and emotions.
On a physical level, lapis lazuli can purify the blood, lower blood pressure and even strengthen the immune system. The stone is also believed to have a beneficial effect on inflammations, as it cools and soothes areas of discomfort. Reducing the symptoms of insomnia and helping to overcome depression, lapis is ideal for those who have sleep problems. To combat depression, it is best to use Lapis in conjunction with other medications or treatments advised by a medical professional.
Lapis is also believed to enhance analytical skills, making it a perfect stone for historians, psychologists, and archaeologists. By helping to solve problems in the workplace, the gemstone can be useful to inventors, lawyers and even creative people.
Quality lapis lazuli is valued around the world. Today, the highest quality specimens come from Afghanistan; with an intense blue hue and a saturated look, Afghan lapis commands a high price. Popular for its range of shades and opaque nature, gem-grade lapis is often used in gemstone jewelry. Whether you hope to use the stone for its benefits in crystal healing or are looking for a beautiful addition to your jewelry collection, purchase a good quality piece of Lapis Lazuli to reap the rewards.