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

How to Pick Out Crystal Fakes: Part 5

Hibiscus Moon amethyst, Crystals, fakes, geology

So this crystal fakes stuffs is getting to be a popular series here on my blog.

And I’m quite enjoying my role in revealing & educating on the gemmy fakes & frauds that have crossed my path.
You can check out the other parts here:

  • Part 1
  • Part 2
  • Part 3
  • Part 4

Before I get into the fakes & confusers I want to draw attention to in this blog post, there’s a little sumn’ sumn’ I wanna to discuss.

My aim here is NOT to completely remove the romanticism of stones & crystals. You know I’m all about the sparkly, glittery & spiritual side of them! Who do you know that sings their praises more than me?

But it may be time for a wee dose of reality when it comes to realizing that they may not arrive 100% unaltered in our hungry little hands. I’ve already discussed my stance on the ethics of mining crystals and stones here…different topic.

All righty…let’s get into it.

After stones are removed from Mother Earth, they’re usually given an oxalic acid wash to clean them up & make them more visually pleasing. I demonstrate this in a video here:
How I Cleanse My Crystals

Then they may be further altered through cutting, tumbling or polishing.
Many crystals may then go through the lab heating process.

This is often done with amethyst to deepen its color or turn it into citrine.

Some crystals are even artificially irradiated, a completely different process that does indeed alter & change them molecularly. Certain darker blue topaz & dark, almost black yet reasonably priced smoky quartz from Arkansas are common examples of this.

I feel crystals that have been altered in this way have lost their  original base resonant frequency & essential now have a synthetic 1…no bond to how they were originally created; Mother Earth bond lost & so…I don’t work with them.

Just wanted to throw in the above info before we get into a few more fakes and/or confusing names so that we all are aware of what may or may not have been done to our stones. It’s always good to be armed with info, don’t you think?
Lapis Lazuli
This baby is no fake but is one of the most often FAKED stones.

The more high quality variety comes from Afghanistan & Pakistan & is characterized by a deep & vibrant blue color (from lazurite) & highly sought after pyrite flecks. It’s natural good looks make it popular in the jewelry trade but it is more expensive & a bit harder to come by.

[caption id="attachment_9124" align="aligncenter" width="570"] Lapis lazuli from Pakistan. You can easily see the gold pyrite flecks.[/caption]

There’s a less expensive, less dazzling kind available from South America & Russia that has more gray in it is more of a dull blue & lacks the pyrite flecks, so not nearly as sought after.

[caption id="attachment_9122" align="aligncenter" width="601"] This Lapis is from Chile, shows more grey & no pyrite…but its still the real deal.[/caption]

The attractiveness of lapis & ease of “fake-ability” make it 1 to watch out for. Some will even take less expensive or low quality howlite, jasper or sodalite & dye it up to make it that vibrant blue. Sometimes even plastic, resins or glass (either mixed in with lapis lazuli “powder” to make “reconstituted” lapis or pure) will be passed off as the blue stone.

My Tips for Spotting Fake Lapis:

    • Acetone (nail polish remover) will remove the dye from a fake but may also damage the stone so tread lightly
    • If it’s very uniform it may be reconstituted (which is not technically fake but completely altered by man) or plain ole’ plastic, resin or glass
    • Lapis can be confused with sodalite but will have much less white (calcite), if its heavy on the white then pass
    • If it has a lot of grey, it’s mostly like sodalite; if you know how to do a streak test, sodalite will ave a white streak whereas lapis will have a light blue streak
    • Cheap price is usually an indicator of a fake

Gaia Stone aka The Goddess Stone, Helenite, Mt. St. Helen’s Obsidian, Green Obsidian, Blue Obsidian
This stone is purported to be created from melting volcanic ash from the eruption at Mount St. Helen & then shaping it into various forms, possibly mixing it with other resins & binders. Hence…MAN-MADE. Geologists have yet to confirm any naturally formed green or blue glass in this region.

That would be so totally exciting if this Gaia Stone actually happened all on its own…at the hands of Mother Natures, but  is simply not the case. At least we don’t have any evidence yet to prove this.

[caption id="attachment_11513" align="aligncenter" width="576"] Green Obsidian. Thank you to photographer, Susan Jones Gardner Broughton, for sharing her photo.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_11524" align="aligncenter" width="324"] Blue & green obsidian. Thank you to photographer, Jenn Langer for sharing her photo.[/caption]

Here’s the deal. This is scientific fact so there’s no arguing here on this:

The geological definition of obsidian is it’s volcanic glass; that is…glass created by volcanism that forms when molten rock material cools.

Human hands have NADA to do with it.

So, if Mother Earth didn’t fuse it together during a volcanic eruption herself…then it ain’t obsidian.

But many are taking any sort of glass & calling it obsidian. I just think that’s wrong & misleading to misuse the terminology that way.

So is the glass bottle I’m drinking from an obsidian bottle?

Are my windows on my house obsidian? *Need to remember that when I put the house up for sale*:

*Rare Clear Obsidian Windows in all Rooms!*

C’mon. Same goes for the red, orange & yellow obsidians. Mother Earth does make many natural & darker colored obsidians…but not these colors, Lima Bean.

IF evidence ever dos come to light that this was a natural event then I will gladly take back everything I’ve said here & high-tail it to the nearest seller to buy a HUGE honkin’ piece of this…but until then I’m just steering clear.
Anchi Crystals

I included this “crystal” (seems to be a group of many different crystals) b/c I’ve been receiving several frequent questions about it from my students in our Certified Crystal Healer Course. Since the “discoverer” of these Anchi crystals hasn’t disclosed the locality of where these crystals were supposedly found we don’t have much concrete info about them.

So far they’ve only disclosed that they “are found in only one location on the Earth” & that they are a group of over 50 different types of  crystals including opaque or milky quartz & different types of tourmalines. From what I can tell they are a lower quality group of smaller crystals so not very clear & knocked around a bit.

I’m still not clear why this outcrop of crystals deserved a special name all their own (except that they’re trademarked under that name so there’s that ).

I hope this post was helpful to but…as I always say…your intuition should always be your first guide. If a stone or crystal works for you for a particular purpose then don’t let anyone or anything that you read or hear change that for you. For certain people, certain stones may work very well while not work for others no matter what is said or written about them…you keep on doing your thing, Crystal Hottie!

If you have any photos of to share of these stones, please stop by & post them up on my FB Page. I’d love for you to share with the other Crystal Hotties.

Do you have other views & news on the crystals discussed here today or perhaps other fakes or confusers you’d like me to research for a future post? Please let me know in the comments below!

As always, thank you so much for reading & adding your personal sparkle to the convo! ((HUGS))

Crystal Blessings, Jelly Bean!

 

 

P.S. My HIGHLY-requested Ancestor Connection with Crystals eKit is JUST about on sale for an very limited time. I’m also giving away my own personal well-desired Ancestor Anointing Gem Elixir Oil Recipe as a bonus along with the eKit. Details coming soon in my newsletter!