Wondering the difference between sodalite and lapis lazuli?
You're in the right place.
In this Learning Guide, I'll answer the following questions about these two stones:
- Are Lapis Lazuli and Sodalite the Same?
- What is Sodalite Good For?
- Which Stone is Better for Jewelry?
Sodalite vs Lapis Lazuli: Origin
If you know about sodalite gemstones, you might not be aware they're part of a mineral group. Sodalite minerals are rare aluminosilicate minerals containing a lot of calcium, potassium, and sodium. Sodalite stones have different varieties and appearances based on localities.
One of the better known varieties is called hackmanite.
Sodalite can grow big in its raw form. Bigger material is used to carve figurines, spheres, freeforms, and decorative pieces.
Sodalite isn't a widely popular gemstone for jewelry, despite its attractive blue color. More people are attracted to another mineral from the sodalite group, lapis lazuli. Lapis lazuli and sodalite are often assumed to be the same.
But sodalite has its own varieties and lapis lazuli is one variety of the sodalite minerals. Most sodalite jewelry contains opaque stones, but it can also be transparent.
Read also: List of the Best Blue Gemstones
Crafters like to use sodalite in jewelry products. Sodalite is more popular than it once was, as are many cheaper gemstones due to healing crystals.
The healing properties of a sodalite brings emotional balance to the wearer. It can calm panic attacks, enhance self esteem, and bring clarity to the mind. For physical ailments, they say a sodalite stone will help with digestive disorders, lowers blood pressure, and issues with vocal cords or the larynx.
Fine quality rough sodalite material is found mostly in Canada, across many provinces. Other places include Afghanistan, Brazil, Namibia, United States, South America, Myanmar, and others.
Though both sodalite and lapis lazuli typically have the same royal blue finish, there's other reasons why people get confused. Remember the sodalite mineral group?
Lapis lazuli is a variety of one of the sodalite minerals called lazurite. Like the other minerals, it gets it color from the presence of sulfur.
Lapis lazuli is one of the oldest known gemstones. Technically, lapis isn't a gemstone, it's a rock. Lapis lazuli isn't one singular mineral variety; it's made of multiple minerals. The chemical composition is lazurite, pyrite, and calcite.
Over the years, many famous "blue sapphires" were actually lapis lazuli. They didn't know that at the time. In ancient civilizations, many cultures revered this blue stone.
One of the oldest operating mines in Afghanistan has been yielding lapis for 7,000 years. Lapis lazuli is an opaque stone, but can be faceted. Most people are looking for cabochons, carvings, or ornamental pieces. It's common for lapis to yield large stones, so bigger decorative pieces can be created from them.
Lapis was very popular in ancient Egypt. If you've ever seen the mask of King Tutankhamun, the blue color in it is lapis lazuli.
Today, lapis lazuli is a popular stone in a crystal collection for its healing properties. Some properties of the stone are similar to sodalite, but should not come as a surprise since lapis contains sodalite minerals.
The blue stone is a good one for protection, lowers blood pressure, and helps with insomnia and depression. It's one of the crystals that can inspire confidence in the wearer. These crystals are associated with the throat chakra and can aid with throat related conditions-like the thyroid or vocal chords.
You can find lapis lazuli in many places in addition to Afghanistan. Siberia, Chile, the United States, and Myanmar.
Sodalite vs Lapis Lazuli: Appearance
Sodalite and lapis lazuli have the same finish, there's a significant difference between the two stones. Sodalite doesn't contain pyrite inclusions, only calcite ones. The calcite inclusions run throughout the blue stone, giving it swirls of grayish white veins.
Raw sodalite is a dark grayish blue, but can appear bright and shiny when polished. There are other sodalite varieties and colors available in the market including red, white, greenish, yellowish, and range from light blue to dark blue.
It's described from vitreous to greasy. That means the texture of the stone can feel and look like glass. It may also feel a little oily.
Synthetics & Imitations
Some call sodalite "cheap lapis", although that's not accurate. Sodalite is considered an invaluable stone, while lapis lazuli is a little more expensive. Not by much, though. Tumbled sodalite and lapis lazuli can look very similar.
The royal blue color is hard to imitate in other gemstones, so you shouldn't worry too much about being sold fake sodalite. White sodalite can be dyed to give it a darker blue color.
Lapis lazuli's intense blue color is accompanied by golden flecks of pyrite. Many people are familiar with pyrite as fool's gold. Lapis is popular not only by crystal enthusiasts, but gem collectors also admire lapis stones for their beauty.
Not all lapis stones look the same. It's much harder to see the gold pyrite flecks in rough lapis lazuli. Most people prefer the brighter blue color of tumbled lapis lazuli. Rough lapis lazuli typically has more calcite throughout the stone.
Synthetics & Imitations
The gold freckles throughout the stone is a main indicator when telling the difference between lapis lazuli and sodalite. Not every lapis stone cut has pyrite flecks. Some may not notice the pyrite if the tell tale gold flecks aren't obvious.
Lapis lazuli and sodalite are mistaken for each other a lot. However, sodalite contains more white streaks of calcite. Lapis isn't an overly expensive stone for jewelry, so you don't need a synthetic version of it. Fake lapis lazuli is usually imitated by sodalite.
It's possible for lapis lazuli to be treated. Treatments don't make the stone fake, but they bring down the value and cost. Some people specifically look for natural and untreated stones, so you'll want to make sure you ask before purchasing.
Read also: Simulated vs Synthetic Diamonds
Sodalite vs Lapis Lazuli: Price & Value
Sodalite is a very common and inexpensive mineral. So much so, it doesn't have a price per carat. Large sodalite stones are easy to acquire. People who buy large sodalite crystals in freeforms and towers will pay more because of the weight.
However, the captivating beauty and stunning pigments of sodalite the size of your fist is worth $25. The white calcite elements look really cool when cut into spheres or towers.
Lapis lazuli is affordable, not like sodalite. It also increases in cost by weight as well as the appearance of the stone. The unique markings of the gold pyrite throughout the crystal will increase the cost of lapis stones.
Polished cabochons of lapis can run up to $15 a carat. Since lapis is an affordable stone in large quantities, it's often used in art pieces. These pieces will be much more expensive than a simple lapis cabochon.
Despite their close similarities, these two stones have different values when it comes to longevity. Neither one is used in engagement ring or wedding jewelry. Still, it's good to know how well they stand up to wear.
One of the way to analyze this by using the Mohs scale. The mineral scale of hardness determines a stone's scratchability. Hardness is important to jewelry because dirt and dust in the air can scratch a gemstone over time.
Lapis has a hardness between 5-5.5. Sodalite has a hardness of 5.5-6. One of the ways to tell the difference between two stones is by performing the scratch test.
Both will scratch, but lapis leaves blue streaks. Sodalite leaves white.
Both will damage in ring settings if not taken care of properly. However, they are better suited for low impact jewelry like necklaces or earrings.
Despite their initial appearances and healing properties, there are slight differences between the two. Sodalite stones are absent of the golden pyrite found in lapis. Sodalite is also just a hair more resistant to dust and dirt than lapis. However, both will damage over time.
You shouldn't worry too much about running into fake lapis or sodalite. They're not overly expensive stones. You'll want to watch out for sodalite stones masquerading as lapis lazuli. If you can't find the tell tale sign of pyrite when trying to tell them apart, you can perform the scratch test.
That being said, I hope by now you have an accurate depiction of both of these royal blue stones. Both sodalite and lapis lazuli decent stones to wear for jewelry, so long as they're taken care of well.
People are entranced by the intense energy of these popular healing crystals. Whether you're attracted to the blue and gold of lapis, or the gray swirlage of sodalite, they have the same general wearability.
Read also: Ways To Test Your Diamond