High-quality lapis lazuli is very affordable in sizes ranging from 1 – 10 grams and the cost per gram is between $5.00 to $65.00 per gram, 1-3 gram sized stones are priced between $5.00 to $15.00 per gram, and larger stones, are priced at $35.00 to $75.00 per gram. Lapis lazuli sourced from Pakistan is regarded as the best in the world due to its high saturation and deep blue hue.
Lapis lazuli comes in a range of tones and saturations but it is always a royal or deep blue hue. The darker blue with very little black or white deposits on the surface of the cabochon is the most sought-after. Add in some small pyrite crystals and you have a top-quality lapis.
The main sources of high-quality lapis come from Pakistan and Afganistan.
How to determine value and cost
When determining the value of the gemstone you will be using GIA guidelines which means color, clarity, carat weight, and cut. You’ll want to look at each one of these individually and then circle back when finished to evaluate the stone as a whole. If you need help identifying lapis lazuli then go here first.
Color is going to be the most important factor when determining the value of gemstones. Clarity and carat weight are tied for the second most important factor.
Color – The more intense the color the more valuable the stone is. When dealing with warm colors, think of red and orange, you’ll want to determine if there are brown undertones. If you can’t see brown undertones then the color should be very vibrant. The more vibrant and saturated the color the more expensive the gemstone. If the gemstone has a unique “neon-like glow” then it will demand the highest price per carat.
Lapis lazuli comes in multiple shades of blue with the highest-valued lapis displaying a deep blue color with small pyrite crystals mixed in. Where the material is sourced or mined will dictate the quality.
Clarity – Buyers and collectors prefer stones with no internal inclusions visible to the eye. Lapis Lazuli will not be judged on its clarity because it’s opaque. Instead, you’ll look at color and lack of streaking to determine value.
Clarity designations – FL, IF, VVS1, VVS2, VS1, VS2, SI1, SI2, I1, I2, I3
Carat – Lapis lazuli can be found in sizes ranging from below 1 gram to above 10 grams.
Cut – It is sad to say but the cut has the least impact on value and cost unless it affects the stone in an extreme way. For example, when you look at the stone you would be able to see through it which means light is not being reflected back to the eye. This is called a window in the stone and it would have to be quite large to impact the price. The other extreme would occur when you look at a stone and see a rough circle or oval shape inside the stone. This occurs when the stone is very shallow and it’s reflecting the rough girdle inside the stone. Note: the girdle is the edge/side of the stone where the pavilion and crown meet.
When assessing lapis you’ll be looking at cabochons instead of faceted material.
Lapis Lazuli Colors by Value
Light Blue Colored Lapis Lazuli ( A Quality) price per gram = $1.00 – $5.00
- Large sizes are common
- Mostly found in inexpensive jewelry
- White and black blotches are common
- Mostly tumbled
Medium Blue Colored Lapis Lazuli (AA Quality) price per gram= $10.00 – $25.00
- Common in all sizes
- Medium blue color
- Small black blotches can be seen in the cabochon
Deep Blue Colored Lapis Lazuli (AAA Quality) price per gram = $35.00 – $75.00
- Small to medium-sized stones are common
- Larger stones will bring a premium
- No white blotches or black blotches
- Pyrite crystals are visible
Lapis Lazuli Rough price per gram = $1.00 – $25.00
- Fairly common to acquire at gem and mineral shows
- Highly sought after by lapidary artists
- Quantities range in size
How valuable is lapis lazuli?
Lapis lazuli can bring a moderate price per gram if it meets the quality and color criteria (deep blue with pyrite crystals). If you’re looking to add lapis to your collection then you should focus on stones with these characteristics.
Values of lapis lazuli will continue to increase
Each year I do research on market prices for lapis lazuli and I can tell you the prices for lighter-colored material are fairly constant but the price for deep blue colored stones continues to maintain a premium price.
If you’re not sure how to value a gemstone then you should consider a gemstone appraisal. Individuals acquiring gemstones through inheritance, estate sales, and auctions typically have the gemstone appraised to determine the value and to ensure the gem is what they think it is.