Do you love the colors of the night sky just before dawn breaks? You can capture that moment and hold onto it with lapis lazuli! Lapis lazuli, or lapis, is a rich blue gemstone with specks of gold and often white. Since roughly 7000 BC, this striking gem has won the hearts of royalty, jewelry lovers, and artists alike.
Most artists know of the color “ultramarine,” but did you know it was first created from powdered lapis lazuli?
Before we had hardware stores, blue paint was difficult to come by, and lapis pigment was pricier than gold for a time. Only portraits of highly-esteemed figures would use ultramarine paint.
One such portrait is Johannes Vermeer’s The Girl With the Pearl Earring, which uses lapis pigment for the stunning blue headscarf. Vincent Van Gogh’s famous The Starry Night painting also contains lapis-derived paint for its remarkable evening sky.
Today, we’ll be sharing all the details on this azure stone, including the myriad of lapis lazuli uses for healing!
To begin, let’s see what lapis lazuli is all about.
Lapis lazuli is a lush, blue gemstone with specks of gold that glimmer along its surface. This semi-precious gem emanates the serenity and harmony of the sky and sea.
Were you born in September? Lapis lazuli is one of your birthstones! Is the traditional sapphire or peridot a little too flashy for you? Then you’ll love the unique, calm vibes of lapis lazuli.
If you’re a Libra who’s more into chill vibes than the typical Luxe Libra Life, lapis lazuli is the perfect zodiac stone for you! The soothing blue hues have just enough sparkle to catch an eye or two.
Astrology lovers know that each planet rules a zodiac sign. That means each planet gets their own star stone, too! Lapis lazuli’s planet is Saturn, which rules Capricorn. The wintery blue hues and posh gold flakes make lapis a perfect stone for a Capricorn’s understated elegance.
What’s more elegant than a wedding, though? As the traditional gemstone of the 9th wedding anniversary, a lapis lazuli ring is the perfect gift to celebrate your special someone.
Lapis lazuli is not a mineral, but rather a metamorphic rock. The stone doesn’t have a consistent chemical composition, but a few minerals are always present.
The stone’s key mineral component is lazurite, a sodalite mineral made of silicate, sulfate, sulfur, and chloride. Lazurite must make up 25% or more of the stone for it to count as lapis lazuli.
Pyrite and calcite are almost always present in lapis lazuli as well, giving the stone its gold and white colors, respectively. Other minerals that may be present include diopside, mica, and sodalite, to name a few.
On the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, lapis lazuli can rank anywhere between 3 to 6.5. The wide range is dependent on how much of each mineral, calcite and pyrite in particular, is present. On average, however, lapis specimens rank between 5 to 5.5.
For the rest of lapis lazuli’s characteristics, check out the bulleted list below!
Color: Azure blue, violet-blue, gray-blue or greenish-blue; Usually has spots or specks of white and gold
Crystal structure: Technically none; Lazurite component is isometric
Luster: Subvitreous to dull
Transparency: Semi-translucent to opaque
Refractive index: 1.50-1.55
Cleavage: Imperfect or none
Luminescence: Present; Fluorescent type; Orange zones in LW, peach or pink in SW, yellow-gray in X-rays; Sometimes white fluorescence in SW
Let’s take a step away from the scientific elements to explore how different cultures have interpreted the lapis lazuli spiritual meaning.
First, let’s talk about the meaning behind that tongue-twisting name.
Lapis lazuli’s discovery occurred in an area called Lajevard. Persians there initially just called the new stone Lajevard. Latin came in later with lapis for “stone” and lazuli for “azure blue.”
The term lajevard translates to “heaven” or “sky.” Some Persian legends claim lapis contains the wisdom of the entire universe. Unsurprisingly, two of the stone’s nicknames are “Stone of the Gods” and “Stone of Heaven.”
The ancient Egyptian lapis lazuli stone meaning corresponds to truth, as well as various deities. Judges in ancient Egypt wore lapis lazuli amulets carved with depictions of Ma’at, the goddess of truth.
According to legend, the hair of the Egyptian sun god Re was made from lapis lazuli. Carvings of the god Ptah, believed to have created life, stability, and power, were also composed of lapis.
Mesopotamian mythology contains a lapis story about the Sumerian goddess, Inanna. In the myth, Inanna descends into the underworld adorned in a lapis lazuli necklace and rod. The lapis represents Inanna’s sensuality and the cunning ambition that gained her great power.
Some Jewish traditions viewed lapis as a symbol of accomplishment, seeing the blue and gold as reflections of heaven and the sun. Additionally, the Talmud states that the Ten Commandments, a list of religious precepts, were inscribed on lapis stones.
In certain sects of Christianity, lapis lazuli represents the Virgin Mary, Jesus’s mother. Medieval and Renaissance paintings often used lapis pigment for the Virgin Mary, like Giovanni Sassoferrato’s 17th century portrait The Virgin in Prayer.
The modern lapis lazuli crystal meaning symbolizes truth, wisdom, and healing. Speaking of, what is lapis lazuli good for in terms of crystal healing?
Physically, lapis lazuli healing may help with relieving insomnia, inflammation, and throat problems. Additionally, lapis is said to give a boost to the nervous system, respiratory system, and immune system.
The emotional lapis lazuli benefits revolve around communication, both with ourselves and others. The stone can help us examine the truth behind our pain and accept it without judgment. From there, lapis brings out a genuine confidence in our abilities.
Beyond the individual benefits, lapis can make us better listeners. The stone reminds us to speak with empathy and put our relationships above our urge to be right.
The lapis lazuli chakra belongs to the throat chakra. As the chakra where we find our inner truth and express it to the world, the blue “Stone of Truth” only makes sense, right?
When our throat chakra is blocked, we feel restricted. We may silence ourselves out of fear and struggle to find meaning. When lapis lazuli unblocks this chakra, we can access our deepest truth and share that truth to make meaningful change in our lives.
The modern world seems to constantly find new ways to overwhelm us. It’s easy to get caught up in trying to do “everything” that we end up burned out. Luckily, using lapis lazuli metaphysical properties can get us back on track.
Achieving a more centered, balanced life is best done through meditation. Meditating with lapis lazuli can clear away all the thoughts fogging up your brain, allowing you to evaluate what’s holding you back without judgment. From there, the stone’s wisdom-enhancing properties can help you chart a path toward fulfillment.
Spiritually, lapis lazuli may provide insight and access to psychic abilities. In Buddhism, lapis corresponds to the “Medicine Buddha,” who heals spiritual suffering.
Many believe lapis can facilitate spiritual journeys or astral travel. By helping you access your deepest self, lapis can uncover hidden spiritual abilities.
Aside from its spiritual properties, what are the important lapis lazuli properties to keep in mind when shopping around?
When shopping for gemstones, knowing what influences the stone’s value is crucial. You can avoid getting duped and feel confident in your decision by keeping the stone’s gemstone properties in mind.
For lapis lazuli, the important value factors are the stone’s color, clarity, cut, and treatments.
Lapis lazuli color is the result of the minerals of its composition and plays the most important role in the stone’s quality. Lazurite’s sulfur content gives the stone its striking blue color, and varying amounts of sulfur lead to different shades of blue.
The gold speckling or color zoning is due to pyrite, while calcite causes white spotting or streaking. Many jewelers claim the best specimens have rich blue surfaces with a sprinkling of pyrite flecks.
Among similar gems, lapis lazuli is the most sought-after opaque blue stone.
Gemstone clarity refers to the presence and visibility of inclusions within the stone. For many gems, inclusions decrease their value. This is partly true for lapis lazuli.
Pyrite inclusions often increase lapis’s value, unless they cover too much of the stone’s surface. Calcite inclusions, on the other hand, generally decrease the stone’s quality grade. Any other inclusions will typically decrease the value.
As a non-transparent stone, lapis lazuli’s clarity grade is simply “Opaque.”
Techniques for cutting lapis lazuli began in ancient times. Tablets, inlays, mosaics, and various decorative objects were among the earliest lapis lazuli cuts.
Nowadays, lapis lazuli most commonly becomes cabochons or beads to best display the color and matrix of inclusions. Cabochons and tumbled lapis lazuli stones are popular for use on their own or placed in jewelry. Masculine and feminine jewelry options are available, including cufflinks, rings, bracelets, and pendants.
After the lapidarist cuts the lapis lazuli stone, some specimens are treated with blue dye. The primary reason for treatment is to cover white calcite portions of the stone that could decrease its desirability.
The dye is typically sealed with oil or wax treatments, which also make the stone’s surface glossier and more attractive. Wax and oil impregnation may also be used without dye to improve the stone’s color or fill in fractures.
Most high-quality lapis stones on the market are under 10 carats. However, miners often uncover giant pieces of lapis lazuli rough. For instance, Afghanistan lapis lazuli rough can reach 500,000 carats!
Larger pieces of lapis lazuli are great for carvings, so it’s common to see intricate lapis lazuli figurines and decorative objects.
In fact, the practice of carving lapis lazuli goes back to ancient times!
Lapis lazuli’s story began in the Middle East, in the area now called the Arabic Peninsula. As far back as 7000 BC, mines around modern-day Afghanistan produced lapis lazuli stones.
One famous example is the funeral mask of the pharaoh Tutankhamun, or “King Tut.” On the mask, the stone surrounds the eyes, eyebrows, and beard.
Scarabs carried significance in burials as well, being placed on tombs to protect the heart. Egyptians believed the heart held a person’s life history and would be judged by Anubis after death, so scarabs ensured a safe transition into this afterlife ceremony.
Ever heard of Cleopatra? She used ground-up lapis lazuli and pyrite as eyeshadow, creating some iconic looks that caught the eye of leaders like Julius Caesar and Marc Antony.
One of Christianity’s most significant gemstone references is the Breastplate of Aaron, decorated with twelve gems to represent the twelve tribes of Israel. In the fourth row, lapis lazuli sits beside beryl and jasper.
In Medieval Europe, lapis lazuli pigment paint showed up in Venice and artists scrambled to get their hands on it. By the Renaissance, elaborate works like Michelangelo’s masterful Sistine Chapel ceiling utilized lapis paint.
The uses for this versatile stone seem endless. But, how does lapis lazuli come about in the first place?
As we mentioned, lapis lazuli is a metamorphic rock. Most often, the stone forms inside marble that have gone through contact metamorphism. Contact metamorphism happens when hot magma gets into rocks and changes their chemical or mineral make-up.
While marble or limestone goes through contact metamorphism, any lazurite inside replaces parts of the rock. Pyrite and calcite, along with other minerals, may mix in as well. The end result is lapis lazuli!
So, where does this formation process happen around the world?
For hundreds of years, Afghanistan’s Badakhshan region was the only place that produced lapis lazuli. Afghanistan is still one of the most prominent sources for the stone, producing saturated blue stones with few inclusions.
Other major sources of lapis lazuli are Pakistan, Russia, and the Andes Mountains in Chile, as well as the following regions:
United States (Arizona, California, and Colorado)
Once lapis lazuli travels from mine to market, what kind of prices can you expect?
Is lapis lazuli expensive? Color plays a huge role in lapis lazuli price. The highest quality stones have solid, azure blue coloring with some specks of gold. Most jewelers prefer lapis lazuli stones without visible calcite inclusions, but many buyers enjoy these cloudy sky looking stones.
The finest gem-quality lapis lazuli stones, which are rare, command higher prices that range from $14-$200 per carat.
Luckily, most lapis lazuli stones are affordable! Even “AAA-grade” specimens are usually $1-$10 per carat. Lower-grade specimens usually range between $0.02-$1 per carat. Lower grade doesn’t mean undesirable, however.
Lapis lazuli gemstones with more calcite used to get tossed aside. However, the colors emulate faded jeans, so these stones have since been dubbed “denim lapis.” If you love cowboy or western styles, this variety is the perfect accessory at an unbeatable price.
You probably know how to clean your denim, but do you know how to clean your lapis lazuli gemstones?
Since lapis lazuli stones vary in durability, be careful when cleaning and storing your gem. You can use warm water, mild soap, and a soft brush for cleaning. Be sure to avoid mechanical cleaners and chemicals like household cleaning products.
If your lapis lazuli has a wax or resin coating, it has better wearability but different sensitivities. Avoid letting stones with wax or resin near acidic liquids or intense sunlight for long periods.
For storage, keep your lapis lazuli gem separate from other gems to avoid scratches or breakage.
Now you know everything about lapis lazuli, so congrats! It’s no wonder ancient and modern folks alike have fallen in love with this stone for centuries over. Who can resist the stunning blue of a bright lapis lazuli?
If you’re looking for a gem that can increase your confidence and your style, lapis lazuli is one bright star in a sea of jewels!
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