- Firstly, look at the price. The best lapis lazuli commands high prices. For example, if you see a string of lazuli beads for only a couple of pounds/dollers or so, they could be fake.
- Poor quality Lapis lazuli can be dyed. Lapis lazuli is made up of a mix of minerals: lazurite (which gives it that distinctive blue colour), white calcite, dark grey-blue sodalite and golden 'fools gold' flecks of iron pyrites. Too much white in the gemstone means it classed as a cheaper calcite, too much dark blue-grey means it's a cheaper sodalite. Poor quality lapis lazuli can be dyed to make it appear more desirable (see below photo).
- To test if your lapis lazuli has been dyed, simply wipe your stone with acetone or alcohol. If it loses its colour it's either a fake, or a poor quality lazuli dyed to imitate better quality lazuli.
|A blue-dyed lapis lazuli braclet - parts of the rock are far too dark blue (a good giveaway) of over dye. There's also a lot of 'fools gold' flecks in the stones - this isn't desirable, and good quality lazuli has very little in it.|
- Genuine lapis lazuli is around 5.5 on the MOHS gemstone hardness scale (diamonds are 10) which means it will just about scratch glass, though can itself be scratched with a knife.
- Look for the 'fool's gold' (a.k.a iron pyrites) in your lazuli. These are little random golden flecks and tiny lines of dark metallic gold in the gemstone. Genuine 'fools gold' is surprisingly difficult to imitate - it usually ends up looking far too uniform and 'perfect' for it to be real.
|Genuine Lapis Lazuli is expensive to buy.|
- 'Reconstructed Lapis Lazuli means that bits of the gemstone have been ground up and then glued together to make a new stone or bead. It's not really a fake as it does contain lazuli... but then it's not the true real thing either. Re-constituted lapis lazuli often has an unatural pebble dash feel and look to it.
- If the Lapis Lazuli is simply too uniformly blue, and is cheap to buy, then it's probably fake. Only the very best top quality Lazuli is a uniform blue colour, with virtually no fools gold. It is incredibly rare, deeply sought after and costs an absolute fortune; this is the type of lazuli you only see set into the finest 18k or 22k gold settings.
Vintage genuine Lapis Lazuli bracelet.
- Plastic faux Lapis Lazuli can be identified by holding it and tapping it on your teeth. Plastics will feel almost 'warm' (ie not cold like glass or gemstone), and will make a dull quiet clink when gently tapped against your teeth.
- As with a lot of gemstones, lapis lazuli can be very cold to the touch. Although glass imitations are cold as well, they will quickly warm up when held - real gemstones often remain cool even after fairly prolonged holding.
- Glass faux Lapis Lazuli generally has no gold specks in it, although some top quality copies, such as Gilson Lazuli does. However, the flecks are too smooth and uniformly patterned to be real, and the blue colour is too even. Gilson Lazuli is collected by vintage costume jewellery lovers as it's quite rare in itself.
- Real lapis lazuli will leave a blue-ish mark on a rough surface. When it's cut in half, lazuli emits a foul odour; it contains sulfur, and this oxides (and smells foul) on reaction to the air. Both of these tests will of course completely ruin your stone, so I don't recommend them!
|Lapis Lazuli should be a lovely azure blue colour, as in these fine earrings.|