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


About Lapis Lazuli

Lapis Lazuli

This ancient rock is an aggregate of several minerals. The three major minerals that comprise lapis are lazurite, calcite and pyrite. The rock can also contain lesser amounts of diopside, amphibole, feldspar or mica. Lazurite is the ingredient responsible for producing the gem’s most prized colour: bright royal blue.

Lapis Lazuli Description

Lapis Lazuli History and Lore


Lapis was treasured by the ancient civilisations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, Greece, and Rome.


Golden flecks of pyrite create a sparkle in lapis lazuli.

Marco Polo

In 1271, Marco Polo described ancient Bactria’s lapis mines.


  • Mineral: Rock
    Chemical composition


There are a number of processes used to alter the colour or apparent clarity, or to improve the durability of gems.

Learn More


Some gemstones have synthetic counterparts that have essentially the same chemical, physical and optical properties, but are grown by man in a laboratory.

Learn More


Any gem can be imitated – sometimes by man-made materials or by natural materials chosen by man to impersonate a particular gem.

Learn More
gem love

Why We Love This Gemstone

Exquisite colour

From ancient times to the present, many civilizations have prized lapis lazuli for its exquisite deep blue colour.

6,500 years

Scholars of ancient civilizations believe that the link between man and lapis lazuli stretches back beyond 6,500 years.


Renaissance painters used lapis to make “ultramarine” blue, an expensive pigment of unrivalled brightness and stability.

Quality Factors

Lapis lazuli is valued for its dark blue to violetish blue colour.


quality factors

The gem’s most-prized colour is a uniform dark blue to violetish blue, without any visible calcite.


quality factors

Top-quality lapis can display small, attractively distributed, gold-coloured flecks of pyrite.


quality factors

Lapis is typically cut into cabochons, beads, inlays, or tablets.

Carat Weight

quality factors

Lapis rough can be large enough to fashion into decorative carvings.

Lapis Lazuli Quality Factors: The Comprehensive Guide


Explore sources, gemmological research and the role of gems in history.

A Status Report on Gemstones from Afghanistan

Gary W. Bowersox , Dec 1, 1985 Read more in English

Lapis-Lazuli from Sar-E-Sang, Badakhshan, Afghanistan

Jean Wyart, Pierre Bariand and Jean Filippi , Dec 1, 1981 Read more in English

Lapis Lazuli from the Coquimbo Region, Chile

Robert R. Coenraads and Claudio Canut de Bon , Mar 1, 2000 Read more in English

Contemporary Intarsia: The Medvedev Approach to Gem Inlay

James Elliott , Dec 1, 1986 Read more in English