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Lapis rough

Hi all. This is new to me, so if you haven’t already decided I’m an
idiot, please don’t let this be the deciding factor.

I have a friend who recently spent a year contracting in
Afghanistan. Before he left, I waxed poetic about the resale value
of Lapis Lazuli, not fully realizing the depths of boredom he would
be subject to. He took me at my word and spent a substantial amount
of time and money on several hundred kilos(!!) of beautiful Lapis,
some rough and some random chunks highly polished. I, an
inexperienced benchie and chain mailler, would like to assist him in
converting it into his retirement fund, and I don’t know where to
start! (He has stated that if he cannot get a decent return, he’s
going to set these luscious rocks into an interior rock wall - but
he’d rather have the money to build the house around that wall!)

Also, he spent enough time with his Afghani seller to build up some
trust, and his Afghani contact told him they are unhappy with the
quality of turquoise they can get hold of, and would be interested
in swapping top grade Lapis (deep dark blue, pyrite w/ little to no
splotchy white areas) for some American turquoise, at a 2:1 ratio -
2 kilos of Lapis for one kilo of Turquoise rough.

So, my questions: 1) Where do you recommend advertising his wares or
how does he reach interested parties (I’m assuming lapidarists
and/or sculptors)?

  1. How much should he charge to get the most return for his time,
    trouble and investment, or where could I research current prices?

  2. Is there anything here I’m missing?

I can get/take photos if anyone on this forum is interested, if not
I welcome any ideas.

Thanks so much for your time and attention, I appreciate you all
more than you could possibly imagine. I personally count ORCHID as
the most valuable tool in my studio.


Sam Kaffine

I think photos for some on this group to see and get an idea of
quality, size and potential price would be a good start. What you
have given so far is not real helpful, at least in my opinion. If
some of the pieces are specimen grade, different rockhound groups
would be a starting point for that material. I am on a group of metal
artists, blacksmith, blade smith, casters, fabricators, etc. and I
SIGH UP INFO. (sorry for the caps, new keyboard). My wife is a
"retired" high end jeweler (does bronze, mixed media and pastels more
now) and we always try to keep a few nice pieces of lapis both rough
and finished, for that “just in case we need it” thing. We have
purchased pies and shared it with others in our little group of
friends, some got carved, some formed into cut/polished pieces and
some, I am sure, is in their drawer for that just in case need.

Is you friend willing to deal with numerous smaller purchases or
does he want to deal with one- 2 -a few big purchases? Big
difference as to where to go. Putting it in a wall might be a way to
"keep it safe for later years" but if it is really nice material,
what a shame.

If I might be of further help, let me know.

johl dach

Our club would also be interested

Hi Sam,

The rough business is ‘rough’. I hope your friend makes out, but

1.) Must visit tradeshows with samples; Tuscon, Denver, NY etc.

2.) Ask what you like, lapis dealers or any rough dealers know the
market rate

3.) You can forget about exchanging/returning. Import
export/customs/shipping will cost will cost more than the rough. And
finally, the word ‘trust’ holds little weight in this part of the
world. I have ten years working with Afghans/Paks/and Kashmiris.
They don’t trust their own family.

Good luck,

sam -

wow, someone who buys more lapis rough than i have! if time is not of
the essence for his return on the outlay, he might get information
about the cost of renting a small space at one of the dealers at the
next tucson show (end of january, beginning of february). there’s
almost always a little corner of an outside dealer’s space to
sub-let. His best bet is to ask some regular/repeat show attendees,
who buy rough, to suggest where they would most likely notice his
lapis - and contact the dealer BUT make certain the dealer he
contacts don’t sell lapis! there’s an outside venue at what i call ‘3
points from hell’ at Oracle and Drachman - the dealer immediately to
the right on the hotel’s north entry drive is a dealer who sells
polished slabs only - might be a place to start. he should avoid
getting squished (technical term) inside some big dealer’s setup
without access to front exposure. your friend can pull up all the
venue/dealer maps on

  • which will bring up this year’s info - and start looking. i bought
    several kilos of afghan AA lapis from my afghan dealer on freeway,
    so i’m not in the market - sorry.

good luck -

Sam, due to quirks of the internet I didn’t see your original message
yet, but I found the thread over on Ganoksin. On the rough for sale
email list

I usually see high grade lapis in large chunks offered for
$300/kilo. Not exactly retirement account material there. Here is a
link to a photo of $300/kilo lapis for reference:

I personally sell gravel sized chunks (random sizes up to perhaps
25gm pieces) for $14.95 a pound postpaid in the US, but this is more
mine run material. I sell rather a lot of it, but because I did buy
it in quantity I do joke about it being my retirement account (I
estimate it will take 30 years to sell it all!). I’m not a major
player in the rough field even with a garage full of lapis! Who
knows what the future will bring. Right now I’m focusing on opening a
brick and mortar coin and jewelery store.

Good luck to your friend, if he has really high grade material in
large pieces hopefully he will be able to get enough for it to make
it worth his while. I would probably suggest not importing it unless
he does it in large enough quantities to bring his shipping costs to
a negligable level.

Ben Brauchler


ther was a big find of decent quality lapis not long ago and all the
european dealers are selling it in various forms. the problem is the
price-from source it is dirt cheap and wholesales in germany for 17
euros a kilo. (about $20) now, at that price I wouldnt be wanting to
swap it for turquoise on a 2:1 basis unless it is very well graded.
The Afghans will certainly get the better deal at that ratio and the
competition for selling it in the west very tough.

nick royall

Not exactly retirement account material there. Here is alink to a
photo of $300/kilo lapis for reference: 

Yeah Ben, there’s a fair amount of decent lapis in the world. I’ll
point out that your link shows AA lapis at best, though it says
triple A. The best lapis is an entirely different animal than the
pic, and I’ve paid $300 an OUNCE for it, back in my lapidary days.

I'll point out that your link shows AA lapis at best, though it
says triple A.

True enough, just a link someone posted to the “rough for sale” list.
My lapis is also an entirely different animal, assorted colors and
small sizes. If you search Etsy, Ebay, or Ebid for Lapis Rough or
Benzgemz you will see it. I’ll stay with mine run for now, plenty of
high grade if I want to dig for it for the small amount of cutting I
have time to do. Life is good and it’s a blessing to be too busy!


I would like to see some pics. May want some



How can I share files and pictures with the list?

Or… send the files to the attention of and
we will upload them for you…