Lapis Lazuli is a rock, not a mineral. The intense blue color of Lapis comes from Lazurite, though the presence of Calcite and Pyrite are common to most specimens. Other prominent minerals like Sodalite, Augite, Mica, and Hornblende can occur in prominent amounts with Lapis, giving the stone a typical mottled, striped or spotted appearance called Lapis matrix. Lapis is often confused with other rich blue minerals like Sodalite, Lazulite, Azurite and Dumortierite.
On the Market
The most important commercial source for Lapis Lazuli is northeastern Afghanistan, where it has been mined for centuries. Other important sources are near Lake Baikal in Russia and in the Coquimbo region of Chile. Chilean stones have high Calcite content and are typically white-spotted or striped with blue. Lapis is also found in small quantities in India, Myanmar, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and the US.
Metaphysical Properties of Lapis Lazuli
Lapis encourages self-awareness and reveals inner truths. It is used as a stone of protection to guard against psychic attack. It is thought that wearing the stone will bring objectivity, clarity, creativity and release stress to bring deep peace. Practitioners use Lapis to encourage harmony, allow self-expression and to integrate honesty, compassion and morality into the wearer’s way of being.
Lapis Lazuli is believed to boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, soothe areas of inflammation and eliminate insomnia. Lapis was once the main source for ultramarine blue pigment used in paint and for cosmetics. In ancient Egypt, Lapis Lazuli was popular for scarabs and in jewelry.
Lapis Lazuli in Jewelry
Lapis Lazuli is a brittle and porous stone that must be carefully set and polished. Stones are sensitive to pressure and should never be ultrasonically or steam cleaned. All Lapis is sensitive to acid, brine and other chemicals, including oils, perfume and other beauty products. Though it is often dyed to improve of enhance the color, Lapis Lazuli is a versatile stone ideal for carving, creating cabochons, or beads and decorative objects. Much of the moderately-priced Lapis on the market is treated with oil, wax or resin to seal it and improve the luster.