Lapis lazuli has become a heavily replicated stone.
However, you can tell if lapis lazuli is genuine by using a few methods.
One of the easiest is holding the stone and seeing if it stays cool.
Lapis lazuli is always cool to the touch, even after being held for a period of time.
You can also use Acetone or a knife to perform tests to see if the stone is genuine.
Continue reading for details on how to tell if lapis lazuli is real.
How to Tell if Lapis Lazuli is Real (EXPLAINED)
What is Lapis Lazuli?
One of the oldest known gemstones, lapis lazuli, is a beautiful blue-colored stone that usually has specks of gold or streaks of white in it.
During ancient Egyptian times, lapis lazuli was used for amulets and ornaments.
During the Renaissance and Baroque periods, artists would use ground up lapis lazuli called ultramarine, which is a fine and expensive blue pigment.
Lapis lazuli is often found as tumbled gemstones and in pieces of jewelry.
It is a fairly rare gemstone and because of that, it is generally more expensive than more common gemstones.
Due to its rareness, high quality or large pieces of lapis lazuli will be expensive.
Lapis lazuli is a rock, not a mineral, but it is composed of the minerals lazurite, calcite and pyrite.
Lazurite is deep blue to greenish blue in color and it makes up about 40% of lapis lazuli.
Calcite is a soft white mineral which presents as swirls or veins in lapis lazuli.
Finally, Pyrite or fool’s gold appears as flecks in lapis lazuli and its gold flecks can be either plentiful or scarcely present in the stone.
The pyrite can be observed by holding the stone up to a light source.
Tips to tell if a Lapis Lazuli is Real
Real pieces of Lapis Lazuli will have these characteristics:
- It will be opaque (meaning light can go through the stone)
- It will have a unique blue/ultramarine color
- It will contain gold flecks and/or white veins
- It is cool to the touch and will stay cool despite being held
- It is hard and tough and it can scratch glass
- Its texture and appearance is not uniform. There won’t be a regular pattern
How to tell if Lapis Lazuli is fake:
- Its color is uniform throughout the stone and the same shade of blue
- It is warm to the touch
- Its gold or white inclusions will be arranged in a discernable pattern
Methods for Determining if Lapis Lazuli is Real
Cost: this is one of the quickest ways to tell if a piece of lapis lazuli is real.
Quality pieces of Lapis Lazuli are valuable, so if you see a piece that looks real but is at an unbelievably low price, there is definitely a chance it is a fake.
Pyrite and Calcite Presence: Genuine lapis lazuli will have golden flecks or white streaks.
If the stone you have is perfectly blue with no gold flecks of pyrite or white streaks of calcite, it’s more than likely a fake stone.
Coloring and Opaqueness: Synthetic versions of lapis lazuli will have a uniform blue color and/or patterns for the gold flecks or white streaks.
Synthetic versions are also more opaque than the real thing.
If you notice a super uniform color and patterned inclusions, be wary of the genuineness of the stone.
Scratch Test: Real Lapis Lazuli is a fairly hard stone.
Lapis lazuli can make a scratch in glass, but it can also be scratched by a knife.
To test if your lapis lazuli is genuine, scratch it onto a piece of glass, if it leaves a mark that is a good sign that it is real.
To further test it, take the lapis lazuli and scratch its surface with a knife.
If the knife leaves a mark on the lapis lazuli, it is very likely to be genuine.
If you do both of these scratch tests and get scratch marks, you can be assured the lapis lazuli is real.
Acetone Test : A genuine Lapis Lazuli will retain its color despite having acetone or alcohol rubbed on it.
To test the staying power of the stone’s color, take a cotton ball and put acetone on it, rub the acetone filled cotton ball onto the stone.
If the color of the stone comes off or begins to fade at all, that means that the piece is definitely synthetic or fake.
Genuine lapis lazuli will never lose its color when it is exposed to acetone.
What is Fake Lapis Lazuli?
Because of the beautiful appearance of lapis lazuli, it is one of the most commonly imitated stones, and this isn’t a new problem.
There is evidence suggesting that the creation of fake lapis lazuli dates back to the ancient Egyptians.
However, there are a few different methods of making “fake” Lapis Lazuli, including:
Enhanced Lapis Lazuli: This means that the natural stone has been covered with another material, such as resin or dyed to make a more desirable color.
It can also mean that pieces of Lapis have been combined to create a larger or more desirable piece.
Synthetic Lapis Lazuli: this means that the stone was made in a laboratory rather than occurring naturally.
It has the same properties of naturally occurring lapis lazuli but it was created by man in a controlled setting.
Imitation Lapis Lazuli: This is where another natural stone or synthetic stone is made to look like lapis lazuli.
A number of naturally occurring stones are used for this.
Sodalite, hoplite and magnesite are a few stones that are often dyed to look like lapis lazuli.
Glass or plastic imitations can also be created to look like lapis lazuli.
Sodalite naturally has a resemblance to lapis lazuli so this stone is commonly used as an imitation to the real thing.
Sodalite is much more common than lapis lazuli.
Now that you are an expert at spotting real and synthetic Lapis Lazuli, happy gem shopping, and don’t get fooled!