You’re at the right place if you want to know the difference between sodalite and lapis lazuli. In this article, I’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions about these two gemstones including:
- Which gemstone between sodalite and lapis lazuli is best suited for jewelry?
- What’s the difference between sodalite and lapis lazuli?
- What’s sodalite best suited for?
Sodalite vs Lapis Lazuli
The Origin of Sodalite and Lapis Lazuli
You probably don’t know that sodalite is a part of a certain mineral group even if you’re conversant with gemstones. There’s a wide variety of sodalite minerals with different appearances depending on localities. They are aluminosilicate minerals that contain lots of sodium, potassium and calcium. One of the most common varieties is known as hackmanite.
Sodalite grows big in its natural form. A bigger material is always used to carve spheres, figurines, decorative pieces and freeform. Sodalite is not quite popular when it comes to gemstone jewelry although it has an exquisite blue color. Most people are attracted to lapis lazuli which is part of the sodalite group.
For the most part, people confuse the two gemstones since they believe sodalite and lapis lazuli are the same. However, sodalite comes in different varieties while lapis lazuli is available in one variety of sodalite minerals. Some sodalite jewelry contain opaque gemstones although they can be transparent as well.
Most crafters prefer using sodalite in a range of jewelry products. Sodalite has gained traction since its inception into the market just like other relatively cheap gemstones owing to the healing crystals.
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Sodalite has some healing properties that bring emotional balance when worn. It’s known to help boost self-esteem, give your mind clarity and calm panic attacks. When it comes to physical ailments, sodalite stones can lower blood pressure, help with vocal cords and larynx issues along with helping with digestive issues.
You can find high-quality rough sodalite materials in Canada in different provinces. They are also available in other different places including Myanmar, Afghanistan, South America, United States, Namibia and Brazil just to mention a few.
Lapis Lazuli and sodalite both have a beautiful rich blue finish. However, that’s not the only reason people confuse the two gemstones. As earlier mentioned, lapis lazuli is part of a sodalite mineral group known as lazurite.
Lapis Lazuli contains sulfur that gives it the bluish hue. Plus, it’s the oldest of gemstones in the industry. Technically, lapis lazuli is not a typical gemstone but a rock. It’s not a single mineral variety but a combination of different minerals. Its chemical composition is calcite, lazurite and pyrite.
In the past, most famous blue sapphires were lapis lazuli. No one knew that over the years. Most cultures revered the blue stone in ancient civilizations. There’s an old operating mine in Afghanistan that has been yielding lapis lazuli since time immemorial.
Lapis Lazuli can be faceted even though it’s an opaque gemstone. For the most part, people tend to look for ornamental pieces, cabochons and carvings. It’s not uncommon for lapis lazuli to yield larger stones so that they can create relatively big decorative pieces from them.
Lapis Lazuli was quite popular in Egypt. The blue color on King Tutankhamun’s mask is lapis lazuli. Currently, lapis lazuli is one of the most popular gemstones in crystal collections since it has healing properties. The properties are almost similar to that of a sodalite but that is to be expected because lapis lazuli contains a variety of sodalite minerals.
The blue gemstone is best suited for protection, helps with depression and insomnia along with lowering blood pressure. What’s more, the crystal also helps boost confidence when worn. The crystals also help with different throat related issues like vocal cords and thyroid since its associated with throat chakra.
Apart from Afghanistan, Lapis Lazuli is also available in many different countries including the United States, Myanmar, Chile and Siberia among others.
The Appearance of Sodalite and Lapis Lazuli
Lapis lazuli and sodalite are quite different although they have a similar finish. Sodalite contains calcite inclusions but lacks pyrite. The former run all through the blue gemstone to give it grayish white vein swirls.
Raw sodalite, on the other hand, has a darker grayish blue hue but appears shiny and bright when polished. Sodalite comes in a range of colors and varieties including greenish, red, white, yellow and different shades of blue ranging from light to dark hues. It’s usually described from greasy to vitreous which typically means that the texture of the gemstone looks and feels like glass. It can also feel oily.
Imitations and Synthetics
Some people refer to sodalite as a cheaper version of lapis lazuli. They couldn’t be more wrong! Most of us tend to believe that sodalite is an invaluable gemstone and lapis lazuli is more expensive. The difference in the price margin between sodalite and lapis lazuli is very small.
Lapis lazuli and tumbled sodalite look the same. Imitating the royal blue color in other different gemstones is quite challenging which significantly reduces the chances of buying a fake sodalite. However, you can dye white sodalite to give it a dark blue color.
The intense blue color of lapis lazuli is usually accompanied by gold pyrite flecks. Most people know pyrite as the fool’s gold. There are gem collectors that admire the beauty of lapis lazuli although the stone is quite popular among crystal enthusiasts.
However, the look of lapis stones varies from one gemstone to another. It’s harder to see golden flecks of pyrite in rough lapis lazuli. For the most part, people prefer tumbled lapis lazuli in bright blue color. Rough lapis lazuli features more calcite all over the stone.
Imitations and Synthetics
The golden freckles on the stone is the main difference between sodalite and lapis lazuli. However, not every lapis gemstone has gold pyrite flecks. Sometimes the freckles are not visible especially if they’re not that obvious.
Most people tend to think that sodalite and lapis lazuli are the same. However, the former contains a lot of white calcite streaks. Lapis is relatively affordable especially when it comes to jewelry stones. This means that you won’t need its synthetic version. You can use sodalite to imitate fake lapis lazuli.
What’s more, lapis lazuli can also be treated. The only downside is that treatments tend to reduce the cost and value of the stone although it doesn’t make it any fake. Some people prefer untreated and natural stones to their treated counterparts that’s why you need to ask before making a purchase.
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Price and Value of Sodalite and Lapis Lazuli
Sodalite is quite common and equally cheap mineral which means it’s not priced per carat. Plus, you can easily acquire larger sodalite stones. However, you might have to dig deeper into your pockets to buy larger sodalite crystals in towers and freeforms owing to the weight.
The stunning pigments and captivating beauty of sodalite stones the size of a fist costs about $25. It features white calcite elements that look cool when you cut it into towers or spheres.
Unlike sodalite, lapis lazuli is quite affordable. However, it’s price is directly proportional to its weight and appearance. Lapis lazuli has unique gold pyrite markings all over the crystal that tends to increase its price.
Lapis lazuli’s polished cabochons cost up to a maximum of $15 per carat. Lapis lazuli is usually used in different art pieces since it’s a cheaper stone in larger quantities. The pieces can be more expensive as compared to a standard lapis cabochon.
Sodalite and lapis lazuli have very different values in terms of longevity despite their similarities. Both of them aren’t used in wedding jewelry and vintage engagement rings. In this case, it would be best to find out how well the stones can withstand wear. Enter Mohs scale.
You can use Mohs scale to find out how well the two stones can stand wear. Mohs hardness scale helps determine the Scratchability of the gemstone. Hardness plays a significant role in jewelry because dust and dirt in the air tend to scratch the gemstones over time.
The hardness level of lapis lazuli and sodalite is 5 to 5.5 and 5.5 to 6 respectively. A scratch test is one of the easiest ways to differentiate between sodalite and lapis lazuli. Both stones scratch although sodalite leaves white streaks while lapis lazuli leaves blue.
You need to take proper care of both sodalite and lapis lazuli since they tend to damage in ring settings. However, they’re ideal for low impact jewelry pieces like earrings and necklace.
There are a few differences between sodalite and lapis lazuli despite their healing properties and initial appearances. For instance, lapis lazuli has golden pyrite flecks which is not the case with sodalite stones. Sodalite is slightly resistant to dirt and dust in the air as compared to lapis.
However, both sodalite and lapis lazuli damage after a while. The two are not quite expensive so don’t worry about buying something fake on the market. However, you have to be on the look out for sodalite gemstones that masquerade as lapis. If you can tell them apart with the golden pyrite fleck then try out the scratch test.
At this point, you should be able to tell the difference between these blue stones. Both lapis lazuli and sodalite are decent gemstones for jewelry with proper care and maintenance. Most people are usually entranced by these healing crystal’s intense energy.
Sodalite and lapis lazuli both have similar general wearability whether you like the gold and blue of lapis or sodalite’s grayish swirls.
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