Everything You Need to Know about Lapis Lazuli Jewelry

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“Jewelry is something that has to do with emotion…” Ann Demeulemeester (Flemish fashion designer) 

She is right. This blue gemstone imbues the mind with feelings of calmness and serenity; peace, tranquility, security, and orderliness.

But before you get so engaged in “mindfulness.” let’s explore what this stone is all about, its significance, and symbolism. Please read on because this article is meant to give you everything you need to know about lapis lazuli jewelry.

Everything You Need to Know about Lapis Lazuli Jewelry

What is Lapis Lazuli

Woman wearing lapis lazuli earring

Lapis lazuli is the birthstone of February. It got its name from two words: Lapis, which is the Latin word for “stone,” and Lazulum which is the Medieval Latin term for “heaven, sky.”

While most semi-precious stones are minerals, lapis lazuli is a rock. Its color comes from the minerals lazurite and traces of white calcite and pyrite crystals. Lapis, which the gem is often called, may come in a semi-translucent form or opaque with a waxy to vitreous luster. 

Its signature hue is greenish blue to violetish blue. But it is also described as indigo, royal, midnight, or marine blue—depending on the mix and concentration of the minerals in the rock. Some lapis have streaks of white due to calcite impurities. It may also have gold flecks due to its pyrite content. 

Characteristically, these impurities make it more attractive. But the most expensive, and rare, lapis lazuli jewelry items are the deep blues—with hardly any trace of impurities.

Lapis lazuli has been around and popular as early as 7,000 years ago, Afghan women have been mining it to make beads, small jewelry items, and figurines. Egyptian archaeological sites dating back to about 3,000 years ago reveal lapis lazuli having been used as jewelry and ornamental objects. In powdered form, it was also used as pigment and cosmetics.

Some Bible scholars believe that Biblical passages using the word “sapphire,” actually means “lapis lazuli.” In fact, some modern translations of the Bible use “lapis,” instead of “sapphire.” 

A few Renaissance artists—including perhaps,  Michaelangelo, used powdered lapis as pigments in some of their paintings. For example, the robes of Mary of Nazareth on the church walls and ceilings in the Sistine Chapel were painted using powdered lapis pigments.

Lapis lazuli found its way into Europe in the middle ages (circa 500 – 1500) as rough cuts, jewelry items, and finely-ground pigment.

Though found in a lot of places, the main source of the lapis is Badakhshan Province, Afghanistan. The area is very poor and the people rely on mining and growing poppies—the source of opium. To make matters worse, it is controlled by the Taliban, local warlords, and Islamic fundamentalist groups. Numerous advocacy groups have been pressuring the government to declare it as a “conflict mineral” so its production and sale can be tracked

What Does Lapis Lazuli Symbolize

Prehistoric lapis lazuli idol
Lapis lazuli prehistoric idol

Modern women (and men) wear lapis lazuli jewelry items to enhance their beauty and allure. But prehistoric people used it not just for adornment or coloring, but to invoke its magical powers or ward off evil. For example, the Sumerians believed that the spirit of their gods lived within the stone. 

Sumerian folklore has it that Innana, the Sumerian goddess of love, entered the underworld bearing the insignias of her rank, which included a rod and a lapis lazuli necklace.

Lapis lazuli is associated with royalty and deities; that the stone contained the soul of the deity who would “rejoice in its owner.”

Egyptian pharaohs adored lapis lazuli and required their judges to wear emblems of Maat, the goddess of truth, made from the stone. They consider the stone as a symbol of the sky and lapis lazuli pigments were painted around the eyes to improve eyesight.

Many ancient civilizations put religious significance to the stone and used it to reflect the high status of their rulers. They used carved lapis to impress official seals, signatures, or religious inscriptions on wet clay, then dried, thus becoming official documents and decrees.

In 18th century England and France, royal courts used a kind of symbolic gem language to convey discreet messages, i.e., lapis lazuli to mean “good luck,” or “love me.”

Modern faith-healers consider lapis lazuli as the stone of wisdom and perfect for the Third Chakra.

What are the Benefits of Wearing Lapis Lazuli

Two of the oldest civilizations to ever walk the Earth, and still do, are the Chinese and Indian civilizations. They gave the world a vast amount of knowledge, philosophies, beliefs, practices, and inventions that have been woven into the fabric of our lives through the centuries.

Among this treasure-trove of information are studies or disciplines that have influenced us in a lot of ways. These are the Chinese Feng Shui and the Hindu Chakra. What they are and how they fit into the subject of lapis lazuli is shown below. So read on.

Chinese Feng Shui

Feng shui literally means “wind and water.” And this 5,000-year-old practice helps people align their energies with their surroundings. At its core, feng shui helps to promote prosperity, good health, and general well-being by examining the energy flow, or “qi” (pronounced chee), through a room, house, building, or garden.

According to Chinese feng shui, lapis lazuli can provide the wearer with the following benefits:

  • The energy of deep calm and a strong connection to heavenly wisdom;.helps him/her align with the universal quality of truth and integrity.
  • Because of that connection, the stone provides protection and shields the wearer from negative influences.
  • It helps purify lower energies from one’s body and aligns them with higher and healthier energies.
  • Lapis lazuli activates a life of more intelligence, success, and an unshakable balance and power that is rooted in ancient connections.
  • The stone can help a person to be more aware of himself and, consequently, be able to express his or her truth.
  • It gives the wearer a deep, pure, and powerful stillness and calm that can negate most negative influences in one’s life or environment. A deep blue color gives protective energies to one’s home and neutralizes negative energies in the family.
  • For children. lapis lazuli can help improve their studies and for millennials, it can bring business success and career advancement.

Caution: these benefits don’t just come unless the stone is placed where it can do the most good. 

Here’s how to do it:

  • Southeast – for wealth and abundance
  • North – for career and path in life
  • A small piece of lapis in your child’s bedroom or living room is good for feng shui.
  • And to benefit from its protective qualities, wear it as a pendant, earrings, ring, or bracelet.

And yes, use a lapis lazuli with a deeper blue color. It may be more expensive, but more powerful.

Lapis lazuli and Chakra

Chakra is a yoga term that means “a spiritual center of power in the human body.”

Literally, it means “wheel,” and refers to energy points in the human body, which contains 7 chakras. Of the seven, the third chakra, the Third Eye, is where the lapis lazuli fits in. The Third Eye is “the seat of intuition.” It acts as your center of wisdom, conscience, and higher consciousness.

It allows for clear thought, spiritual contemplation, and self-reflection. It is the highest chakra in the physical body.

In the world of chakras, the benefits of wearing a lapis lazuli are:

  • It releases stress, brings deep peace
  • Brings harmony and a deeper sense of self-awareness
  • Paves the way for the growth of such qualities as honesty, compassion, and morality
  • Stimulates objectivity, clarity, and creativity
  • It helps bonds relationships; aids in expressing feelings and emotions

In the physical sense, lapis helps in:

  • Boosting the immune system, purifies the blood, and lowers blood pressure
  • Cooling and soothing inflamed areas
  • Alleviating insomnia and vertigo; overcomes depression
  • Improving the respiratory and nervous system, the throat, and vocal cords
  • Cleansing body organs, bone marrow, and the thymus.

How Can You Tell if a Lapis Lazuli is Real?

In the early 1950s, a laboratory in Stockholm, Sweden, made the first synthetic diamond. But GE (General Electric) beat them to the draw in announcing it to the public because they did not report their invention immediately. GE came up with its version of synthetic diamonds in 1954.

That paved the way for the manufacture of other gemstones as well. Initially intended for industrial use, they soon found their way into the more lucrative jewelry market when production processes improved. Their use in jewelry items such as the one in this Just Men’s Rings review, increased.

Now there are so many man-made gemstones that look too real the uninitiated couldn’t tell which is which.

So the overarching question when people buy lapis lazuli is “how to distinguish an authentic lapis lazuli jewelry from a synthetic?”

Lapis is much sought-after because of its perceived “mystical” properties and affordability. Hence, it is the most faked among gemstones. To help you out, these tips can be a priceless guide:

Check the price

Good quality lapis lazuli jewelry can be very expensive. So if it looks suspiciously low, it must be a fake. This may mean canvassing a lot of dealers to get a good idea of prices. But the effort is well worth it.

Check if it is not dyed

Poor-quality lapis are often dyed to give them a deep blue color. To check if a gem is not dyed, wipe it with acetone or alcohol. If it loses some of its blueness, it is dyed.

Test for hardness

Lapis is a hard stone that can verily scratch glass. So do the scratch test to see if it is authentic. But it can be scratched with a knife, so be careful. 

Look for the “fool’s gold”

Streaks of gold can be seen in an authentic lapis. This is difficult to fake—but it can be. So take a close look at the streaks. If they are uniform and too perfect, the stone is fake.

If uniformly blue and cheap

Only the very best of lapis is deep blue. But they are rare and expensive (and still have a few streaks). .  So if you see a lapis that is uniformly blue—and cheap—chances are that it is synthetic.

Feel it

Gemstones are cold to the touch. Although imitations are cold as well, they will warm up when held for long. Real gemstones remain cool even after prolonged holding.

These tips can help you avoid being duped. But if you want to be very sure, buy from your trusted jeweler.

Is Lapis Lazuli Expensive

The word “ëxpensive” is very relative. Nothing is expensive if you really need it and have the money to pay for it. 

But in the jewelry world, Mr. Expensive moves around a lot because jewelry is not a “need,” but a want.  And more often than not, what you want may be out of your budget.

And that holds true for all kinds of jewelry, not just lapis lazuli.

So what is the cost of lapis lazuli jewelry?

It depends on two things: the quality of the stone and the artistry that goes into the making of a finished product.  For example, the chart below shows the price gradient of the lapis based on color hues.

Lapis lazuli quality chart

The deeper the color, the higher the price.

Now we go into the finished product. Let’s say you want to have an idea how much a lapis lazuli ring costs.

Lapis lazuli ring
A fancy lapis lazuli ring

A fancy deep blue ring like this could easily fetch $200 or more. Of lapis lazuli jewelry, rings are one of the most popular. On the other hand, a simple ring can cost the equivalent of three Big Macs.

Then let’s see the price range of a jewelry item favored by young girls and middle-aged women—a lapis lazuli bracelet.

Lapis lazuli bracelet
A multi-hued lapis lazuli bracelet

Bracelets range in price between $36 to close to $80. But this applies to simpler designs. The featured image could easily fetch a higher price.

To get the most satisfaction from your purchase, keep these things in mind:

  • Have a budget. Don’t buy if you don’t have the budget for it. Life goes on without jewelry.
  • Have a reason for buying: The lapis is famous for its symbolism and mysticism, hence people are fond of them. How about you? What deeper purpose and meaning in life do you hope to connect with a lapis purchase? If it is for plain adornment, then you are throwing good money away.
  • Know how to care for it: Clean your lapis with warm water and mild dish soap. Dry it immediately. The lapis is porous and can easily absorb water. 

If your jewelry is set in gold or silver, don’t use harsh cleaning chemicals as they might affect its color. An over-the-counter cleaner will do to properly maintain your stone.

Finally, store it away separately from the others as they can easily scratch each other.

So there you have it, everything you need to know about lapis lazuli. With all the unique meanings that have been attached to this gemstone, there’s only one thing to keep in mind when purchasing one. 

Get the gem for yourself.

There are many other gemstones out in the market, but if you want to know how they can bring you luck, check out our article “Get Lucky: How Gemstones Can Bring You Fortune and Luck.”

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