Back to gem encyclopedia

Lapis Lazuli

Lapis is a beautiful rock; an aggregate of several minerals, mainly lazurite, calcite, and pyrite.

Responsive image
Intense colour

Even, deep blue colour is typical of the most desirable lapis.

Responsive image
Golden flecks

Tiny golden flecks of pyrite complement the gem’s appearance.

Responsive image

The tablet cut is a popular cut style for lapis lazuli jewellery.

Responsive image
Responsive image

Large areas of bright royal blue make this specimen appealing.

Responsive image
Calcite Streaks

Streaks of calcite can detract from the stone’s value.

Responsive image

Sparkling pyrite inclusions are appreciated by many lapis consumers.

Responsive image

Buyer's Guide

The finest lapis has uniform body colour, free of visible pyrite and calcite. Lapis often contains varying amounts of whitish calcite matrix - the host rock - or flecks or veins of yellow pyrite, or both.


Use your postcode to find a jeweller near you with GIA reports and GIA-trained staff.


Verify the information on your report matches what is archived in the GIA report database.

What to look for

Lapis Lazuli
Colour is the most important quality factor for lapis lazuli

Variously described as indigo, royal, midnight or marine blue, lapis lazuli’s signature hue is a slightly greenish blue to violetish blue, medium to dark in tone, and highly saturated. In its most-prized form, lapis lazuli has no visible calcite, although it might have gold-coloured pyrite flecks.

Lapis Lazuli
Clarity refers to lapis lazuli’s surface appearance

If the pyrite flecks are small and sprinkled attractively throughout the gem, their presence doesn’t necessarily lower lapis lazuli’s value. The lowest-quality lapis looks dull and green, the result of an excess of pyrite. Lapis with white calcite streaks is less valuable.

Lapis Lazuli
Cut possibilities include cabochons, beads, and carvings

Lapis lazuli is often cut into cabochons, beads, and tablets. The gem has also been popular with carvers for centuries.

Lapis Lazuli
Carat weights for lapis span a wide range

This lapis lazuli specimen from Afghanistan, “The Owl,” weighs about 1 kilogram. Lapis is found in all sizes and is often cut into calibrated sizes or beads.

Lapis Lazuli Quality Factors: The Comprehensive Guide