Rock Discoveries

Allure of Lapis Lazuli: Identifying Real Stones and Avoiding Fakes

The Allure of Lapis Lazuli – How to Identify Real StonesLapis lazuli, a stone known for its rich blue color and unique history, has captivated people for centuries. From ancient Egypt to the Renaissance and Baroque periods, lapis lazuli has been used in art, jewelry, and even cosmetics.

But how do you know if the lapis lazuli you have is real? In this article, we will discuss the composition and characteristics of real lapis lazuli, as well as give you a checklist for identifying real lapis lazuli.

History and Significance of Lapis Lazuli

Ancient Egyptians were the first to mine and use lapis lazuli, often grinding the stone into powder to create blue pigment for their artwork. It was also cherished for its supposed healing properties, as well as its association with the deity Isis.

During the Renaissance and Baroque periods, lapis lazuli was a coveted gemstone that was often used in religious artwork. It was even called ultramarinum, meaning beyond the sea, because it was imported from Afghanistan.

It was also used in cosmetics, such as eyeshadows, to give a vibrant blue color to the eyes.

Composition and Characteristics of Real Lapis Lazuli

Real lapis lazuli is composed of several minerals, including lazurite, calcite, and pyrite. The most important of these minerals is lazurite, which gives real lapis lazuli its characteristic deep blue color.

Calcite is a white mineral that can sometimes be found in lapis lazuli, and pyrite is a metallic mineral that gives the stone its gold-colored flecks. Real lapis lazuli will also have natural imperfections, such as veins or cracks.

This is a sign that it has not been artificially polished or treated.

Checklist for Identifying Real Lapis Lazuli

1. Swirls – Real lapis lazuli will have swirls of white or gold-colored mineral interspersed with the blue.

If the blue appears to have been painted or artificially applied, it is likely not real. 2.

Opaque – Real lapis lazuli is opaque, meaning you cannot see through it. If the stone is translucent, it is not lapis lazuli.

3. Hard – Due to its composition, real lapis lazuli is quite hard.

It can scratch glass, but will not be scratched by it. If the stone is easily scratched or chipped, it is not real.

4. Tough – Real lapis lazuli is also tough, meaning it can withstand impact without breaking.

If the stone is brittle or chips easily, it is not real. 5.

Irregular Patterns – Real lapis lazuli will have irregular patterns, with the veins and flecks creating a unique design. If the stone is uniformly blue with no variation, it may not be real.


In summary, lapis lazuli is a fascinating stone with a rich history and deep blue color. To identify real lapis lazuli, look for swirls of white or gold-colored mineral, an opaque appearance, a hard and tough surface, natural imperfections, and irregular patterns.

With these tips, you can be confident in identifying real lapis lazuli and appreciating its beauty and history.

How to Tell if Lapis Lazuli is Real or Fake

Lapis lazuli has been prized for centuries for its deep, rich blue color and unique characteristics. However, due to its high value, lapis lazuli can often be reproduced as a fake or imitation.

In this article, we will cover the three groups of lapis lazuli fakes, and provide a checklist of characteristics of fake lapis lazuli. Finally, we will discuss in detail exactly how fake lapis lazuli appears.

Three Groups of Lapis Lazuli Fakes

Enhanced natural lapis lazuli is one of the most common types of lapis lazuli fakes. This occurs when natural lapis lazuli has been treated or enhanced in some way to improve its color or texture.

For example, it may be dyed or reconstructed, where small fragments of lapis lazuli are glued together to form a larger piece. These enhancements can make the lapis lazuli appear as if it has more of the desired blue color, or like a more uniform blue color.

Due to the multiple fragments used to create enhanced natural lapis lazuli, it often lacks the natural patterns found in real lapis lazuli. The second type of fake lapis lazuli is synthetic, which is made in a laboratory.

These synthetic stones are usually made of inexpensive materials, but can be polished to look like real lapis lazuli. They can sometimes have patterns that mimic the natural patterns of real lapis lazuli, but they are less distinct.

Imitation lapis lazuli is the third type of fake stone and is made of materials that are different than lapis lazuli but are dyed blue or have had blue paint applied. Sodalite, a blue mineral that is similar to lapis lazuli, is sometimes used to make imitation lapis lazuli.

It is often used in jewelry and ornaments because it is cheaper and easier to obtain than genuine lapis lazuli. Glass and plastic are also common materials used in imitation lapis lazuli.

These faux stones will often sparkle more distinctly than real lapis lazuli.

Characteristics of Fake Lapis Lazuli

The key characteristics of fake lapis lazuli are a lack of variations and natural patterns found in genuine lapis lazuli. Cracks or natural imperfections are absent in fake stones.

It can look too perfect with a uniform and regular patterned appearance. The color can be either too bright or too dull.

Real lapis lazuli will have flecks of pyrite which is absent on most impersonating variants. It may be too smooth to the touch, lacking the natural grittiness of lapis lazuli.

If held in the hand, it may feel warm, which indicates it might be plastic or glass as these materials tend to conduct heat well.

How Fake Lapis Lazuli Looks Like

Dye concentration is a telltale sign of fake lapis lazuli. The blue color of genuine lapis lazuli is derived from the natural mineral lazurite, which can produce many different shades of blue.

In fake stones, the color is often too even and has no natural variation. Conglomerate lapis lazuli, created by fusing small pieces of lapis lazuli together, often has large areas of uniform shade, which is not present in genuine lapis lazuli.

Additionally, Gilson Glass Lazuli, a synthetic lapis lazuli created by using glass, can be identified by its homogeneous and uniform material. It has been calibrated to produce a glimmering blue color, which may appear artificial and glassy.

Sodalite, a similar mineral to lapis lazuli that can be mistaken for it, is blue with white veins, but the veins are much denser and less irregular than those found in lapis lazuli. Glass and plastic imitations of lapis lazuli often look too perfect and smooth, with a distinct glassy luster.

They may also be softer than real lapis lazuli and can easily scratch or chip.

In conclusion, lapis lazuli is a unique and valuable stone that can be easily imitated.

The key characteristics of fake lapis lazuli are a lack of natural patterns, uniformity and too evenly spread color. These can be easily identified by inspection and by holding the stone and feeling any smoothness or unnatural warmness.

Where to Buy Real Lapis Lazuli

The demand for lapis lazuli has made it easy for unscrupulous people to pass off fake stones as real. Hence, it is important to find trustworthy sources before purchasing lapis lazuli.

In this article, we will discuss the sources of real lapis lazuli and recommend some places where you can buy real stones.

Sources of Real Lapis Lazuli

Afghanistan is the primary source of lapis lazuli, with the highest quality stones coming from the mines in Badakhshan province. Lapis lazuli is also found in other countries like Chile and Russia, but the quality and quantity is not as high as that of Afghanistan.

Recommended Places to Buy Real Lapis Lazuli

Minerals and rock shows are great places to buy lapis lazuli from reputable sellers. These shows bring together mineral and rock collectors, dealers, and enthusiasts to trade, buy, and sell stones.

These events usually happen annually or semi-annually in different locations across the world. It is important to note that while most sellers at these shows are reliable, there may still be some unscrupulous ones.

Research the reputation of the show and dealers in advance so that you can be sure you are buying real lapis lazuli. It is also important to find a responsible seller who has a reputation to uphold.

Online platforms like eBay and Amazon provide lapis lazuli, but it is crucial to check the vendor’s credibility and customer reviews before completing a transaction. When shopping for lapis lazuli, always look out for imperfections and natural patterns like pyrite crystals that you would expect from genuine lapis lazuli.

Real stones can display natural variations in their texture and not appear perfect. Some vendors may even provide a certificate of authenticity, which confirms that the lapis lazuli is genuine.


In conclusion, buying genuine lapis lazuli is important since there are many fake stones on the market. Real lapis lazuli can be found in Afghanistan, Chile, and Russia.

When looking for real lapis lazuli, attending mineral and rock shows or choosing reputable sellers like those with good customer reviews on online platforms can be a reliable way of getting genuine stones. Remember to check for natural patterns and pyrite crystals that you would expect from genuine lapis lazuli and avoid stones that look too perfect.

With these tips, youll be well on your way to adding a genuine piece of lapis lazuli to your collection. In conclusion, identifying real lapis lazuli and avoiding fake stones is crucial for anyone interested in gemstones.

Real lapis lazuli will have natural variations, patterns, and pyrite crystals, while fake stones will look too perfect and uniform. Sources of genuine lapis lazuli include Afghanistan, Chile, and Russia, and mineral and rock shows and reputable sellers are recommended places to buy the real stones.

By following these guidelines and tips, you can acquire a genuine piece of this fascinating gemstone. Here are some FAQs to address common questions or concerns:


Q: What causes the natural variations and patterns in genuine lapis lazuli?

A: The variability in genuine lapis lazuli is due to the multiple minerals in the stone, including lazurite, calcite, and pyrite, which can create unique patterns when the stone is formed. Q: Can genuine lapis lazuli be polished or treated in any way to enhance its appearance?

A: Genuine lapis lazuli can be polished to enhance its natural beauty but should not be subjected to artificial treatments that can alter its physical characteristics. Q: How much should I expect to pay for genuine lapis lazuli?

A: The price of genuine lapis lazuli varies depending on its quality, size, and rarity. It is important to do some research and compare prices before making a purchase.

Q: Can lapis lazuli be used as a healing stone? A: Lapis lazuli has been traditionally associated with healing properties, particularly in the areas of stress reduction, emotional balance, and spiritual awareness.

However, it is important to note that these claims are not scientifically proven.

Q: How can I distinguish between natural variations in lapis lazuli and imperfections that affect its value?

A: Natural variations in lapis lazuli, such as pyrite crystals and unique patterns, can actually enhance the value of the stone. Imperfections like cracks, chips, and poorly fused conglomerates can decrease its value.

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