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Lapis Lazuli is among the most beautiful metamorphic rocks out there! It is a semi-precious stone with a deep blue hue that was used since antiquity in jewelry or powdered and made into ultramarine, which was the most expensive blue pigment in the world.
Lapis Lazuli isn’t easy to find, as it is pretty rare, and this also stands true for the U.S. Only the states of California and Colorado have small mining operations concerning this rock, but there are other states where it is present. Lapis Lazuli is often discovered in limestone or marble deposits since it forms near these rocks.
If you find to find lapis lazuli in the U.S., you need to know exactly where to look for and understand how this beautiful blue rock forms. Here is everything you need to know about lapis lazuli, and what are the best states to find it!
If you are interested in checking out the best books about rock and minerals identification you can find them by clicking here (Amazon link).
Where to Find Near Lapis Lazuli Near Me (Most Common Environments)
Lazurite is the main component in lapis lazuli responsible for its beautiful blue hue. Lapis lazuli forms near igneous intrusions where marble or limestone was altered due to contact metamorphism or hydrothermal metamorphism.
Lazurite will replace portions of the host rocks and will develop within certain layers or bands. Lapis lazuli is essentially a rock made out of several minerals.
Therefore, if you want to find lapis lazuli, some of the best environments to search for it are crystalline limestone deposits or crystalline marble deposits. Certain mining prospects, stream beds, pegmatite veins, and marble skarns, are excellent locations to search for lapis lazuli. This blue rock is slightly rarer than diamond.
Wherever you may find the rare lazurite mineral, chances are high that you will also find lapis lazuli, so never dismiss it. Let’s analyze some of these common lapis lazuli environments and see why it is found there!
Mines, Creeks, and Stream Beds
Mines, creeks, canyons, or stream beds are all potential environments where you may find lapis lazuli. Canyons often reveal these buried rocks, while mines, depending on how far they go underground, can also unearth lapis lazuli.
This is because the geologic conditions for the formation of lapis lazuli are perfect underground. You won’t find lapis lazuli at the surface.
Stream beds are also great to explore, particularly where other minerals such as pyrite or calcite were discovered, as they are commonly present in lapis lazuli specimens.
This isn’t a safe bet, it’s rather a long shot, but considering how rare lapis lazuli is, we have to use whatever we can if we hope to find it.
Pegmatite Veins, Crystalline Limestone Deposits, or Marble Skarns
Pegmatite veins and crystalline limestone deposits or marble skarns are also great environments to search for lapis lazuli because it usually forms in them if the conditions are right. Therefore, search the pegmatite veins, limestone, or marble deposits in your state.
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Where Can I Find Lapis Lazuli in the United States? The Best Locations
Because of how rare lapis lazuli is, no U.S. state has it as its official state rock or gemstone, and this also applies to the mineral lazurite. However, some lapis lazuli mines in the U.S. are worth exploring or visiting.
Currently, only the states of California and Colorado have small mining operations concerning lapis lazuli, but there are other states where it was found. Because of this, the previously mentioned states along with Alabama, Arkansas, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, and Wyoming are the best states to find lapis lazuli in the U.S.
|New York||St. Lawrence County, Edwards Mine, Empire State No.2 Mine|
|Colorado||Gunnison County, Truebe Prospect, Blue Wrinkle Mine|
|Alabama||Tallapoosa County, Pinckneyville|
Since lapis lazuli is so rare, the best thing you can do to find it in the U.S. is to join a rockhounding club. These clubs often know the best locations and may sometimes keep them secret.
However, if you are a member, you may get access to some good lapis lazuli locations. Let’s explore all the U.S. states where lapis lazuli was discovered and see where exactly you should try your luck to find it!
The state of Arkansas is no stranger when it comes to beautiful rocks, minerals, and crystals. That being said, it is one of the eight U.S. states where lapis lazuli was unearthed. Here, in Pulaski County, head to Little Rock.
Go for the Granite Mountain area, or visit the Big Rock Quarry (3M Quarry, Arch Street Pike Quarry). In these regions, a couple of lapis lazuli specimens were discovered. Search the environments mentioned earlier in these areas.
TIP: For a complete rockhounding guide in Arkansas, check out this article.
California is one of the two U.S. states that still perform mining operations concerning lapis lazuli. There are several occurrences of lapis lazuli in this state. If you want to find this beautiful blue rock, head to Los Angeles County.
There, visit the San Antonio Canyon, and search the San Antonio Creek, where lazurite occurrences are present. In San Bernardino County you can also find lapis lazuli. Go to Cascade Canyon and search the general area.
Ontario Peak was also considered a good lapis lazuli location, but it’s been some time since any specimens were discovered.
At Stoddard Peak, you can visit the Big Horn Mine near Wrightwood, where there is a lapis lazuli deposit, but there are also other lapis lazuli occurrences in this area worth investing in.
TIP: For a complete rockhounding guide in California, check out this article.
The state of Colorado is the second U.S. state still conducting mining operations concerning lapis lazuli rocks. If you want to find lapis lazuli in Colorado, your best bet is Gunnison County. Here, it would be best if you visited the Dorchester Mining District.
At Taylor Park, explore the Italian Mountain, or go directly to the Blue Wrinkle Mine, or Truebe prospect. The western side of Italian Mountain is generally the best area to find lapis lazuli. You can also try your luck at Crested Butte. Don’t forget to ask for permission if you visit these areas.
TIP: For a complete rockhounding guide in Colorado, check out this article.
The state of New York has a couple of locations where lapis lazuli was unearthed. If you want to search for lapis lazuli in this state, then you should go to Lawrence County. It is the only county in New York where lapis lazuli was discovered.
Visit the Balmat-Edwards Zinc Mining District to search for the elusive blue rock. In Balmat, lapis lazuli was discovered at the Empire State No.2 Mine, Empire State No.4 Mine, ZCA No.3 Mine, and in Edwards, at the Edwards Mine (St. Joe Lead).
TIP: For a complete rockhounding guide in New York, check out this article.
Other U.S. States Where Lapis Lazuli Was Found
Lapis lazuli is indeed a rare gemstone. Out of the eight U.S. states where you can find this beautiful blue rock, four of them have several locations where it was discovered, and the other four have just one occurrence.
For example, if you were located in the state of Alabama, you may find lapis lazuli specimens in Tallapoosa County at Pinckneyville.
In the state of Nevada, you can find lapis lazuli in Clark County, at Searchlight Mining District. Some lapis lazuli claims also come from the state of North Carolina, specifically in Stokes County. Lastly, some lapis lazuli was discovered in Wyoming in Sweetwater County, at the William T. Rogers No.1 well.
If you were to visit these states, or if you live in them and want to find lapis lazuli, it’s best to join a rockhounding club or association. They know the best locations concerning any specimen.
TIP: There are dozens of types of lapis lazuli fakes. They are dyed, reconstructed, and synthetic. Check out the main differences between real and fake lapis lazuli in the article below:
Real vs. Fake Lapis Lazuli: Focus on These 6 Differences
FAQ About Finding Lapis Lazuli in Real Life
Still did not find the answer to your questions about finding lapis lazuli? Find frequently asked questions in the section below:
Where is Lapis Lazuli Most Commonly Found?
Lapis lazuli is most commonly found in crystalline limestone deposits or crystalline marble deposits, or mines. The most common place in the world where lapis lazuli is present is in north-eastern Afghanistan, specifically at the limestone deposits in the Kokcha River valley of Badakhshan.
What is the Best Way to Find Lapis Lazuli?
The best way to find lapis lazuli in real life is to understand where it occurs and how it forms. Lapis lazuli is made out of lazurite, pyrite, and calcite, among other minerals. Search for it in limestone deposits where these minerals are also present or go directly to the areas mentioned above.
How Rare is Lapis Lazuli in Real Life?
Lapis lazuli is among the rarest gemstones in the world, just slightly rarer than diamonds. In fact, true lazurite, the main mineral responsible for its blue color, hasn’t yet been found in our world, as many lapis-lazuli specimens contain hauyne as their deep blue component.
BTW: Do you want to know more about rock and mineral identification? The books listed below are the best ones you can find on the internet (Amazon links):
- Smithsonian Handbooks: Rocks & Minerals
- Gemstone & Crystal Properties (Quick Study Home)
- Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Rocks and Minerals (National Geographic Kids)
Lapis lazuli is among the most beautiful semi-precious gemstones in the world, and if you are to find one, consider yourself extremely lucky!
Finding lapis lazuli is hard, but if you want to maximize your chances of finding it, consider joining a rockhounding club, explore the environments where it usually occurs, and head to the areas mentioned above in this article. Good luck hunting for lapis lazuli!
TIP: Lapis lazuli is highly valuable because of its mysterious midnight-blue color and gold-yellow pyrite flecks. Find out more about the value of lapis lazuli in the article below:
Lapis Lazuli Value: Main Factors & Prices for Different Units