Lapis Lazuli is one of the most easily recognizable, versatile, and varied gems on Earth. You’ll find it in the form of jewelry, carvings, and even ornamental crockery.
It’s one of the very first stones to have found favor with mankind and it’s easy to see why. Read on to find out more about the interesting and beautiful lapis lazuli stone here.
1. Lapis Lazuli Stone Is an Ancient Treasure
Man has been using this intense blue gemstone for at least 6,500 years.
Archaeological evidence suggests that it was highly prized by several advanced civilizations. Namely, the early Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese, and Mesopotamian people. Ancient pieces of hair combs, dagger handles, figurines, and bowls found at various sites around the world are proof of this.
Naturally, this lovely gemstone was also widely used for ornamentation in the form of cabochons and beads. Even Tutankhamen’s mask has swatches of lapis lazuli on it. In ancient Egypt, it was taboo for anyone but the very rich to own lapis lazuli.
2. It Makes Incredible Paint
Not only did these early civilizations use the stone extensively in jewelry and artifacts, but they also put ground lapis lazuli to work as a type of eyeshadow.
Throughout history, some of the world’s most distinguished artists have used it as a blue pigment to craft many of the world’s finest artworks. Known as ultramarine, which means ‘beyond the sea’, this paint was more expensive than gold at one stage.
Michaelangelo used ultramarine to create portions of his magnificent fresco, ‘The Last Judgment”. More recently, Johannes Vermeer used it extensively in masterpieces like ‘The Girl with a Pearl Earring’. Van Gogh’s ‘Starry night’ also owes its vivid blue hues to this pigment.
Pure lapis lazuli makes an incredibly vivid dye that holds its color forever and is so rare that these type of paints are no longer manufactured.
3. It’s Good for You
Historically, people also ground lapis lazuli into powder to make eyeshadow and medicinal elixirs. Ancient Egyptian manuscripts suggest that lapis lazuli powder formed part of the treatment for cataracts, conjunctivitis, and hysteria.
Also in Egypt, necklaces of lapis lazuli were often given to shy children to give them courage.
Today, lapis lazuli still has a place in the field of spiritual healing as a panacea for anxiety and restlessness. Of course, people don’t consume lapis lazuli anymore, but the mere presence of the stone can induce these benefits.
People who practice healing with these stones claim they also have a role to play in easing ear, nose, and throat pain. They’re used to treat all kind of maladies from insomnia to regulating blood pressure, heart rhythm and pain.
4. It Shares an Ingredient with Guns
Lapis Lazuli contains lazurite, calcite, and pyrite. The first two elements are responsible for the blue and white hues of the stone respectively. Pyrite, also known as fool’s gold, adds a touch of sparkle.
The name Pyrite is a derivative of the Greek word for fire, ‘pyr’. This is due to the fact that this mineral creates sparks when you hit it with a steel object. As such, gunsmiths originally used pyrite in wheel lock firearms to create the spark needed to propel a bullet.
5. The Best Stones Come from Afghanistan
Like other precious stones and minerals, lapis lazuli exists in thick subterranean veins scattered across the Earth. The biggest and best deposits of lapis lazuli occur high in the mountains of Afghanistan and this is where the stone was first discovered.
Lapis Lazuli that hails from this lofty origin goes by the name, ‘Persian Lapis’. It contains no calcite and very little pyrite.
As a result, these gems are totally blue with no white veins or spots. The color of Persian lapis varies from turquoise to almost violet. The darker the stone, the greater its value.
Today there are lapis lazuli mines scattered all over the world in China, Russia, South America, and Colorado, USA. However, none of these can compare with the original gemstones mined in Afghanistan.
6. It Needs Special Care
Lapis lazuli may have survived centuries in the form of jewelry and ornaments, but it is a relatively soft stone and easily damaged.
Clean your lapis lazuli jewelry with a soft cloth. Harsh chemicals and steam cleaning can dull the luster of the stone. This means you should remove any lapis rings while handling household chemicals too.
Lapis lazuli is also porous which means it absorbs liquids, so remove your rings while washing the dishes and bathing.
Because of its fragile nature, this gemstone is best suited for necklaces, pendants, and delicate earrings. If you simply must have a gorgeous lapis lazuli ring or bracelet, treat it with utmost care.
Keep your collection in individual soft bags away from other jewelry or hard objects that could rub against it.
7. It Defies Traditional Classifications
Every type of lapis lazuli has its fans. Some people prefer pure blue stones while others love white or gold streaking. The artistry of the jewelry item can also affect its value.
Officially, lapis lazuli has a specific gravity of 23.8 to 2.45 but this goes up or down according to how much pyrite and calcite are in the stone. Raw lapis lazuli has no luster at all, and it’s always opaque.
As such is it’s very difficult to judge lapis lazuli purely along the classic lines of specific gravity, luster, and clarity. These terms refer to the purity of the gem, whereas many of the charms of lapis lazuli lie in impurity.
Satisfy Your Curiosity
Today, lapis lazuli is a popular choice among those looking for unique colorful jewelry to call their own.
If you’re intrigued by the mysteries of lapis lazuli stone, browse through stores and discover the many ways you can celebrate the beauty of this gem.