Lapis Lazuli has become one of the most commonly faked gemstones in the industry. This makes it critical for consumers to educate themselves on how to distinguish authentic lapis from a sea of imitation stones.
Synthetic lapis lazuli has become increasingly abundant in recent years. Synthetic lapis ranges significantly in quality and appearance and can be almost indistinguishable from the real thing. These false stones have often been dyed to look like lapis or could even be poor quality lapis that has been dyed to command a higher price.
It may be difficult to call out a fake right off the bat, but there are some tests you can carry out at home. Real lapis lazuli will remain cool to the touch, even after holding it for a while. Plastic imitations will never feel as cool and glass imitations will warm up quickly if you hold them in your hand. Additionally, rubbing the piece with acetone can determine its legitimacy. If the coloring begins to rub off or fade, it is clearly a fake. Lapis lazuli is also hard enough to scratch through glass, though it can be scratched by a knife. Testing this for yourself is another way to prove its validity.
Sodalite, a semi-precious stone that ranges from a grey-blue to deep blue color, is occasionally sold as lapis lazuli. Sodalite is actually a component of lapis and can be beautiful in its own right, but typically of much lesser value. If the stone you are looking it is of a darker blue-grey coloring without any swirls of white or flecks of gold, there is a chance it is Sodalite.
A discerning eye should often be able to spot fake lapis by scrutinizing the coloring of the stone. Synthetic versions are often more opaque than natural lapis, typically appearing to have a grey or dull overcast. High quality lapis lazuli should have an ultramarine color that often appears to have depth. Additionally, true lapis will contain iron pyrites that resemble gold dust within the stone. These will shine in the sunlight and are a good indicator of the stone’s validity. Lapis lazuli is prized for its beautiful imperfections, including the streaks of white that denote the presence of calcium. If a stone is perfectly and completely deep blue, without any flecks of gold or streaks of white, the odds are that it is not real lapis lazuli.
Ultimately, the best way to be sure that the piece you are purchasing is real is to buy from a reputable source and at a respectable price. If a price seems too good to be true, it likely is! Good quality lapis is valuable, which is reflected in its price. Because of how coveted and rare the stone is, real lapis lazuli can be hard to find, but getting the real thing over a cheap imitation is definitely worth it!