Lapis Lazuli, otherwise known as the “Stone of Heaven” has been revered since the beginning of mankind for its healing abilities and the aesthetic it gives the wearer as well as that of the stone itself. It is best known for its abilities to open the mind and enhance communication from a place of authenticity and wisdom. This stone of the soul opens doors to our inner truth, clues about our past lives and allows for communication with the divine as well as angelic guides.
Zodiac: Sagittarius, Aquarius, Pisces
Planet: Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune
Chakra: Third Eye, Throat
Vibration Number: 3
Color: blue, yellow (inclusions)
Because it is such a well known and highly prized stone, many swindlers have put fakes and imitations on the market. Here’s how to identify fake vs. genuine lapis lazuli:
Real lapis lazuli is a rock and not a mineral, therefore it is composed of many different types of minerals and not just one – what makes it truly beautiful are its imperfections. Fake lapis lazuli is often represented by one uniform shade of blue, too smooth and even. Many different types of fakes exist on the market today – some are reconstructed and synthetic while others are different stones dyed to look like the real thing.
Identifying Real Lapis Lazuli
Real lapis lazuli with its natural imperfections, is deep blue metamorphic rock composed of the following:
- Lazurite: a deep blue to bluish-green mineral comprising of about 25-40% lapis lazuli
- Calcite: a soft, white mineral occurring as delicate swirls or veins in the lapis lazuli
- Pyrite (fool’s gold): a metallic yellow “gold” mineral occurring within the stone and gorgeously complementing the blue of lapis lazuli
*lazurite is also associated with other minerals such as diopside, humite, forsterite, hauyne, and muscovite*
What does it look like?
Genuine lapis lazuli has a unique ultramarine blue color. Its imperfections and inclusions are visible as white veining and yellow-gold flecks throughout the stone. Genuine lapis is generally opaque and hard just as any other natural stone, with a texture that is far from uniform and with irregular texture. It remains cold to the touch for a long time, unlike glass or plastic material which imitations are normally made from.
Identifying Fake Lapis Lazuli
Because lapis lazuli has been in high demand for thousands of years, many fakes on the market appear to be high quality and are indistinguishable from the real thing, unless you know what you’re looking for. The first ever fakes appeared in Ancient Egypt – yes you read that right – while more modern imitations are made in laboratories with high-end equipment. Fake lapis lazuli made of plastic or glass are a uniform blue color and warm to the touch. Although they also contain yellow flecks, their pattern is regular and unnatural. Fakes which are actually sodalite will have a dull blue appearance and lack the pyrite inclusions of genuine lapis. They can be categorized into three groups:
- Enhanced Natural lapis lazuli is the genuine stone itself which is coated in resins or dyed to enhance its natural color. In some cases, smaller pieces of the natural stone will be glued together to appear as a larger piece of lapis.
- Synthetic lapis lazuli has the physical and chemical properties of the real thing, except that it is manufactured in laboratories.
- Imitations are some other natural mineral, stone or man made material which is dyed to look like genuine lapis lazuli. Some examples of stones used as imitations are sodalite, dyed howlite, or magnesite while man made stones are usually either glass or plastic.
*genuine pyrite is exceedingly difficult to imitate and so, any attempt will appear too bright and uniform to be real.
What does it look like?
Fake lapis lazuli often will either lack the pyrite inclusions, or the imitations are too uniform. Synthetic or dyed lapis lazuli will be too bright in color or too dull, especially in sodalite imitations which have very dull white inclusions. Dyed natural materials will appear too bright and the color inconsistent as the dye cannot spread evenly. Where pieces of lapis lazuli are glued or fused together, it may appear as a conglomerate. In the case of synthetic lapis manufactured from glass, it will have a smooth texture and the “pyrite” specks will be patterned unnaturally. Imitation lapis (e.g. sodalite) will appear semi-opaque, dull, and with white streaks instead of gold. Glass imitations may also contain bubbles inside the stone whereas real lapis is completely opaque and looks waxy.
*Fake lapis made of plastic is a lot softer than the real thing and feels warmer to the touch.
Where to find real lapis lazuli
Lapis lazuli of the best quality can only be found in certain parts of the world as it is very rare. The finest stones are sourced from Afghanistan, Chile, and Russia – another tip is to ask where your lapis lazuli is from. The best place to find genuine lapis lazuli is at mineral and rock shows and independent stores that source the crystals themselves, like us. Check out the Spirit Magicka shop to find some of the nicest quality lapis lazuli in the country.