Blue Sapphire vs Lapis Lazuli: The Complete Guide

Posted on December 23rd, 2023 11:12 AM

As you explore gemstones, you may come across two spectacular blue stones with many similarities; yet each has distinct distinctions that deserve closer examination. Blue sapphire vs lapis lazuli may often be confused; by increasing your knowledge of both stones separately, you'll gain a greater appreciation of both. Both stones have long been valued for their blue color and ornamentation use alike but their chemical makeup, hardness levels and price points vary dramatically between each one - an understanding of them will enable you to enjoy each stone better individually.

This guide offers an introduction to blue sapphire (Neelam stone) and lapis lazuli gemstones, comparing and contrasting each closely so you can determine which stones best suit your preferences. When finished reading it will give a thorough knowledge of both gem varieties - two beautiful blue beauties of gemology!

Main Differences Between Blue Sapphire & Lapis Lazuli

Blue sapphire and lapis lazuli are two blue gemstones often confused with one another due to their similar color and appearance. However, several key differences between these gems are important to understand before making a purchase.

blue sapphire vs. lapis lazuli stone

The most significant difference is their mineral composition. Neelam stone is a variety of the mineral corundum, an aluminum oxide, while lapis is a rock made up of multiple minerals, including Lazurite, calcite, and pyrite. As a result, it tends to be harder and more durable than the softer lapis stone. Blue sapphires are rated 8 or 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness, making them suitable for any type of gemstone jewelry. Lapis stone is only rated 5 to 6 on the Mohs scale, so it is best used in jewelry that will experience limited wear and tear, such as earrings or pendants.

Both stones also differ in their clarity and color. Neelam stones typically have a vivid, intense blue color and crystalline clarity, while lapis stone tends to be opaque with a duller, mottled blue color. Finally, Neelam Ratna is usually more expensive and rare than the more abundant lapis lazuli.

In short, blue sapphire (Neelam Ratna) and lapis lazuli share a common blue color but differ meaningfully in their hardness, clarity, rarity, and price. For a durable blue gemstone suitable for any jewelry, blue sapphire is the superior choice, while lapis lazuli is best reserved for certain decorative or ornamental uses. With this information, you can make an informed decision between these two striking blue gems.

Blue Sapphire (Neelam Ratna) Properties and Price

Blue sapphire, also known as Neelam Ratna, is a highly valuable gemstone. It belongs to the corundum mineral family and gets its blue color from traces of iron and titanium.

blue sapphire gemstone

Physical properties

It has a hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale, making it an extremely durable gemstone. It has a vitreous luster and ranges from light blue to dark inky blue. The most prized shades are a deep cornflower blue to medium vivid blue.

Origin and value

The finest quality blue sapphires come from Kashmir, Burma, and Sri Lanka. Sapphires from these localities are rare and can fetch very high prices. The color, clarity, cut, and carat weight are the primary factors determining a sapphire's value. An unheated, original neelam stone over 5 carats from Kashmir or Burma could sell for $10,000 to $30,000 per carat or more.

Imitations and treatments

Synthetic sapphires and less valuable minerals like iolite are sometimes passed off as natural blue sapphires. Many sapphires undergo heat treatment to improve their color and clarity, so buyers should be wary of undisclosed treatments. Only buy from reputable dealers who provide official certification from an independent gemological laboratory.

With its regal blue color and durability, it has been treasured for centuries as a symbol of wisdom, loyalty, and nobility. For those seeking an alternative to diamond for an engagement ring or other jewelry, neelam stone offers unparalleled beauty and meaning. Overall, this precious gemstone deserves a place in any gemstone collection.

Lapis Lazuli Gemstone Qualities and Value

Lapis lazuli is a deep blue metamorphic rock prized for its intense color. Composed primarily of lazurite, calcite, and pyrite, it has been used as a gemstone for centuries.

blue sapphire gemstone

Appearance:- It appears as an opaque rock with a deep blue color and often contains white calcite veins and brassy pyrite flecks. The intensity of the blue color depends on the amount of lazurite present. More lazurite results in a deeper, richer blue. Lesser quality lapis will appear dull and patchy. High-quality lapis stone has an even, saturated blue color with minimal white veining and bright pyrite inclusions.

Durability:- Lapis lazuli rates a 5 to 6 on the Mohs scale, so it can be prone to scratching and abrasion. It should be protected from hard impacts that could cause fracturing. Lapis stone can fade over time with exposure to bright light and heat. Keeping the stone in a cool, dark place and limiting light exposure will help preserve its color.

Value:- The value of lapis lazuli depends on several factors, including:

Color intensity: Deep, saturated blues are most prized. Lighter, uneven coloring is less valuable.

Amount of pyrite: Bright pyrite flecks increase the stone's visual appeal and value.

. Source location: Lapis from Afghanistan, the source, tend to be highest quality and most valuable. Chilean and Russian lapis are more affordable.

Cut and polish: Finely cut and polished lapis cabochons or beads will be more valuable than rough, unpolished stones.

High-quality lapis stone can sell for $50 to $100 per carat or more for finely cut stones. Lesser quality material in smaller sizes can sell for under $10 per carat.

The gemstone qualities that determine lapis lazuli's worth and appeal are its vivid blue color, minimal veining, bright pyrite inclusions, durability, and source location. When evaluating lapis stone, examine these factors to determine if the stone offers an enticing balance of color and pattern as well as a fair price for its quality.

Identifying Blue Sapphire vs Lapis Lazuli

When determining whether you have blue sapphire or lapis lazuli, there are several characteristics to consider. Blue color sapphire is aluminum oxide, classified as a corundum mineral. It has a hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale, making it very durable. Lapis lazuli is a rock composed primarily of lazurite, calcite, and pyrite. It has a hardness of 5 to 6 and is more prone to scratches and breakage.

  • Examine the color and tone: Typically has a deep, intense blue color in varying shades like cornflower blue, navy, or inky blue. Lapis lazuli has a more uneven, mottled appearance with shades of blue mixed with white calcite and brassy pyrite. This stone may have a slightly greenish or violet tint, but this stone contains more white and gold tones.

  • Inspect the clarity and inclusions: It often has some inclusions, but should still be mostly clear and transparent. Lapis is opaque with visible calcite, pyrite and other mineral inclusions. Examine the stone under magnification to detect these characteristics.

  • Consider the cut and shape: Neelam stones are often cut into symmetrical shapes like ovals, rounds and cushions to best display their clarity and color. Lapis stone is frequently cut en cabochon, without facets, to showcase its mottled, textured appearance. Polished lapis stone may have an uneven, dimpled surface.

  • Test the hardness and specific gravity: This stone will scratch glass and most other minerals, but lapis lazuli can be scratched by a knife or copper coin. Blue sapphire has a higher specific gravity of around 4 compared to lapis lazuli which is 2.5 to 2.9. These properties can help distinguish the gems when other characteristics are ambiguous.

By evaluating color, clarity, cut, hardness and specific gravity, the amateur gemologist can determine whether they have the coveted sapphire or the striking lapis stone with a high degree of accuracy. With some practice, these gems become easy to identify and appreciate for their unique qualities.


Both blue sapphire and lapis lazuli are stunning gemstones in their own right with a rich history and cultural significance. While Neelam stone is the more durable and valuable of the two, lapis lazuli has a distinctive flecked appearance and was used historically as a pigment for paint. In the end, you must weigh the factors that matter most to you - rarity, color, cultural tradition or affordability - and choose the gemstone that speaks to you.

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