Lapis Lazuli | the New Blood Diamond?

Hibiscus Moon Crystals 20 Comments

I have a policy to not discuss politics and war. I’m totally against it. (Ooops…sorry. That just slipped out.)

…but today I have to make an exception.

Some recent controversy surrounding lapis lazuli has come up. About it being like the blood diamond trade. My take on that issue & conflict minerals in general is in this blog post.

So much so that I made sure not to include any lapis in the recommended crystal kits for my recently enrolled fall Certified Crystal Healer Courses.

Although, I did report on what info I knew, including my opinion on it, in my weekly Glitter Update newsletter last month, I realized I was doing the greater crystal community…including those who aren’t subscribed to my newsletter (I know, can you believe? Some Crystal Hotties haven’t yet subbed)…a great disservice by not sharing this info on a larger scale. I do have a relatively big platform here with my blog and on social media & could get so many more eyes on this lapis issue by posting about this here openly.

But, last month I made a conscious decision not to share this in my blog.

To keep it more “quiet”.

Because I was afraid of:

  • the controversy
  • the political energy around it
  • possibly not having all the facts straight
  • using the word “Taliban” on the open Internet

This week I re-assessed & realized I DO have a duty to take advantage of the platform I have here in our crystal community.  I decided to ignore my little nervous nags (& remember when I get those feelings it means that I SHOULD share my thoughts). I chose instead to acknowledge the fact that I feel a need to bring awareness to this situation.
The Controversy
So, let me fill you in.

A couple of months ago it was brought to my attention that there’s a lapis lazuli shortage happening in the gemstone market right now. So I started doing some investigating to see if I could figure out what the reason was & I think I’ve discovered what’s at the root of that shortage.

It’s being reported that lapis is still being mined but the price has been driven higher. Allegedly, this is because the largest mine in Afghanistan  has been “taken hostage” by militia and the Taliban. These 2 reasons have created a shortage in the supply. You can read more about that here.
Mind you, what is currently considered the world’s finest lapis lazuli is mined in Afghanistan.

Even the October 2016 issue of Rock & Gem magazine reported on this problem…

The Global Witness, a non-governmental agency that exposes natural resource corruption, is also drawing some major attention to the problem & “is calling for the government to ensure publication of mining data, reform mining oversight, and support community monitoring of mining.” They want lapis defined as a blood mineral.
The benefits of labeling lapis lazuli as a “blood mineral” would put certain international trade restrictions in place while discouraging people from buying through raising awareness about the situation.
But will any of that actually help?

Your guess is as good as mine.

It’s very sad b/c in 2013 Afghanistan proudly reported that controlled lapis mining was going to a big part of their economic come-back plan. But that idea has been smashed to pieces now.

In many cases, countries like Afghanistan regard mineral mining as an important source of income for many people. But now it seems those people are being bullied & the funds may be contributing to something I want no part of. 

Of course, I’m not there in Afghanistan seeing the Taliban taking the mines hostage with my own eyes. ***If you have witnessed this please post in the comments below! Some are disputing these reports entirely so I can’t say that this is 100% factual information (as is the case with any media reporting…right?)

However, the fact remains that there IS an evident lapis shortage as I’ve verified with my crystal selling friends.

Athena Perrakis owner of SageGoddess.com let me know that she noted a, “SERIOUS shortage of lapis” at the recent September Denver Gem & Mineral show where she was on a buying trip.

And Chrisy Bossie owner of Earthegy.com told me, “finding lapis is a problem right now and what is on the market has had a price increase….and there’s no telling if it will be here on the next shipment.”

[caption id="attachment_19207" align="aligncenter" width="576"] Used with permission. (photo credit: fr:User:Luna04 )[/caption]

BTW, any of us going to the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show in Jan/Feb. 2017 will have to check out the lapis inventory situation for ourselves at that time & perhaps re-assess this whole situation. (SIDE NOTE: If you are going, will be joining us for our little Hibiscus Moon Tucson Meet Up?)

Although I’m sure the Taliban gets its funding from all sorts of more lucrative sources, I’m not going to knowingly allow my mineral purchases to contribute to it. And I’m sure lapis is not the only mineral this is happening with…but it’s the one that we’re currently being told about now.

So now that I’m informed, I’ll just tell you what I’m choosing to do:

I’m not purchasing ANY Lapis Lazuli until I hear that things have been restored back to normal there. I’m not going to purchase any even if it’s been around in someone’s shop for years…b/c that will create a need for the shop owner to get more for someone else.
I’m not preaching what anyone else should do. Heck, I don’t know what the right solution is!
This is just what I choose to do.
You Have Options
Hold on tight b/c you can still get your lapis so all is not lost.

If you’re willing to lower your standards on aesthetic beauty & quality just a bit (this is truly in the eye of the beholder!)  you can choose to purchase lapis from other geographical sources.

Although not as high quality as Afghan lapis, there are other deposits located in northern Chile & Russia and even small amounts coming out of Italy, Mongolia & the US.
Blue Wrinkle Lapis
There’s a brand new stash made that was forgotten about & then recently available again (you can read the story here) known as Blue Wrinkle Lapis mined from Crested Butte, Colorado & apparently can only be purchased here as of this writing.

Our Crystal Content Manager Lisa (she’s the one that helps me prep these blog posts & our Glitter Updates…and there she is smiling her gorgeous smile below) went above & beyond and took a trip out to this shop (Zacchariah Zypp & Co.) to check out this unique lapis find. 🙂 TY Lisa!

The owner of the of the shop, Noel Adam, who found the forgotten lapis stash & purchased it, stated on his website, “Now all this lapis belongs to me, but I don’t really feel like I own it. It’s more like I’m the caretaker of it…There’s something special about this lapis. It really does have a certain feel, almost a spiritualization about it.”

Well, we totally get that! Here’s a close up Lisa took of the Blue Wrinkle Lapis.

And here’s Noel (below) also featured in the latest issue of Rock & Gem. He told Lisa he was excited to be featured there & I’m glad he was too so that we’re aware of one more option for our lapis lazuli needs!:

This, below, is my lapis lazuli stash from Chile. You’ll note there’s no pyrite and the grey is from calcite. Afghan lapis has little to no grey and the blue is much more deep & vibrant. (Geologists used to think the blue came from the mineral lazulite, but have since decided that most of it comes from the gorgeous mineral haüyne).

So, again…there are lots of options.

You may be wondering if the energy from all the various types of lapis is the same. Although I feel that all lapis is a wonderful Third Eye Chakra & inner vision stone, I do feel that the energy of the Afghan lapis is a bit more intense…but you really have to check it out & determine that for yourself, Chick Pea.

Have you seen additional reports or experienced a Lapis Lazuli shortage?  What do you think about lapis being declared a Blood Mineral?  Will that help the situation? Please share with me in the comments below!

Crystal Blessings,

Hibiscus Moon