A deep blue stone, whose main ingredient is Lazurite and it owes its unique colour to it. It has inclusions that sparkle into gold, which are the particles of Pyrite that makes it blend beautifully with gold jewellery. The name comes from the Latin word "lapis" meaning stone and the Arabic "azula" and the Persian "lazhward" meaning blue or sky. In some languages, etymologically, it is from this stone that the term blue comes, for example the Portuguese "azul".
Thanks to its strong ultramarine color, this stone has been highly valued since ancient times. In Mesopotamia and Egypt it was considered the stone of rulers and gods. Jewellery, figurines and seals were made of it. The most characteristic products from Lapis come from the tombs of Egyptian rulers, for example, the posthumous mask of Tutankhamen.
During the Renaissance, this valuable material in powdered form began to be brought from the Middle East to Europe as ultramarine pigment, the most valuable and expensive of all shades of blue. Paintings using ultramarine were a luxury due to its high price and only the greatest artists could afford it. Titian used ultramarine to paint the dramatic sky and robes in his oil on canvas "Bacchus and Ariadne" around 1523, Johannes Vermeer to paint the scarf in "The Pearl Girl" around 1665, and Vincent Van Gogh used ultramarine to paint "Starry Night" in 1889. Today this colour is produced synthetically.
Lapis Lazuli started to be mined in the Province of Badakhshan in northeastern Afghanistan as early as the 7th century B.C. and to this day it is from there that the highest quality raw material comes. Significant amounts of Lapis are also mined in the vicinity of Lake Baikal in Russia and in the Andes in Chile, while the raw material from those areas has numerous inclusions of Calcutta and is not as valued as a variety from the Middle East.
Lapis Lazuli, by many old cultures was valued higher than gold and called the Stone of Wisdom.
Read more