Lapis lazuli, also known simply as “Lapis”, is a blue metamorphic stone that has been used for thousands of years as a gemstone, sculpture, pigment and ornament. High quality lapis lazuli is sold as an expensive jewelry. The most desirable have a rich and solid blue color and may have a few reflective pieces of gold pyrite.
Unlike most other gemstones, azure is not a mineral. Instead, it is a rock composed of several minerals. The blue color of Lapis lazuli is mainly due to the presence of lazurite, a blue silicate mineral from the sodalite group.
Lapis lazuli has been used since ancient times and is still popular today. Lapis lazuli gemstone is used for inlay and interior as well as pigments for cosmetics and paintings due to its light and blue color. Its contrast and eye appeal are undeniable. Today, its main use is for jewelry.
Lapis lazuli is a semi-precious stone and its deep blue color has a higher value. The source of ultramarine pigment, Lapis lazuli is not a mineral but a stone stained by lazurite. In addition to the sodalite minerals found in Lapis lazuli, there are small amounts of white crystals and pyrite crystals. Minerals such as Diopside, amphibole, feldspar, mica, apatite, titanite (sphene), and zircon may also occur.
Because Lapis lazuli is a rock with a different composition, the physical properties of this rock are variable. It is often found in crystalline limestones and is the product of contact metamorphosis. The most important mining resources in Badakhshan are northeastern Afghanistan, and the mines near Ovalle are in Chile, which is often pale blue instead of deep blue. Usually sold as Lapis lazuli is an artificially colored jasper from Germany that shows colorless, clear, crystalline quartz stains and never shows the pyrite-like pieces of gold that characterize Lapis lazuli.
Lapis lazuli has been very popular in human history. Lapis lazuli was first mined from Badakhshan province in northeastern Afghanistan in 7000 BC. Lapis lazuli was commonly used to make beads, small jewelry items, and small sculptures. Some found at Neolithic archaeological sites dating back to about 3000 BC in Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
Lapis lazuli has also been found in many ancient Egyptian sites dating back to around 3000 BC. This gem was used in many ornaments and jewelry. It is interesting to know that powdered Lapis lazuli was used as a cosmetic and pigment.
In the Bible, the word “sapphire” was often used interchangeably with the name Lapis lazuli. For this reason, some scholars believe that at least some of the sources of sapphire in the Bible are in fact references to Lapis lazuli. Some modern translations of the Bible have replaced the word “sapphire” with “Lapis lazuli”.
Lapis lazuli is also found in medieval Europe. This product has been imported to Europe in the form of jewelry, coarse and finely ground pigments.
Today, Lapis lazuli is used in jewelry and ornaments. Even Lapis lazuli, as a pigment, has been replaced by modern materials, except by artists trying to use historical methods.
Archaeologists have found Lapis lazuli beads, various jewels and inlays in various places, some of which date back to 6000 BC.
The use of lapis lazuli for art and jewelry probably originated in Afghanistan and has spread to Asia, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and the Roman world. It is probably Lapis lazuli pieces.
Afghanistan is the world’s first source of lapis lazuli. In some parts of the country, they have been actively mining for thousands of years. Other countries such as Chile, Russia, Canada, Argentina and Pakistan also produce significant amounts of lapis lazuli. Small quantities of lapis lazuli are found in the United States in California, Colorado, and Arizona. Afghanistan and Pakistan offer the best lapis lazuli products in high commercial quantities. The lapis lazuli found in Colorado is very good but has limited availability.
· Badakshan, Afghanistan: among the oldest operating mines in the world (7,000 years). Lapis occurs in large blocks and crystals in white matrix. Source of the world’s finest lapis.
· Pakistan: solid, deep blue color with no white calcite spots and just a sprinkling of brassy, yellow pyrite.
· Colorado: stringers in limestone, dark color, with much pyrite, from Italian Mountain in the western part of the state.
· Studyanka River, Mongolia: light blue lapis, with pyrite.
· The Chilean Andes: gray and blue mixture, color inferior to Afghan material.
· California: blue-gray with white spots.
· Italy; Labrador, Canada; Mogok, Myanmar.
Afghanistan has produced 100kg deep blue Lapis Lazuli blocks. The size of a block of Chilean Lapis Lazuli, found in a Peruvian tomb, was 24 x 12 x 12 x 8 x 8. A 40.5 cm vase of delicate blue material at the Pitti Palace, Florence, Italy.
The most expensive color of Lapis Lazuli is dark blue to purple, without any visible calcite. it might contain gold-colored pyrite flecks, and if the small and attractive flecks are scattered all over the gem, their presence does not necessarily diminish the value of the azure. Azure appears to be of the lowest quality green, resulting in excessive pyrite. Azure with white calcite veins is less valuable.
Although many people know Lapis Lazuli as dark blue, it can be seen in other shades of blue and even other colors. The color of this stone can vary from deep purple and royal blue to light blue to cyan to greenish blue because the combination of different minerals in the stone determines its color. For instance, the presence of lazurite creates a valuable royal blue color in Lapis Lazuli, and a mineral called Afghanite creates a pale blue shade.
Lapis types on the market today:
· Persian or Afghan—Intense, uniform, medium dark, slightly violetish blue. Contains little or no pyrite, and no calcite
· Russian or Siberian—Various tones and intensities of blue. Contains pyrite and might contain some calcite
· Chilean—Often tinged or spotted with green, with obvious calcite matrix
The appearance of a gemstone may be described by the name of a country or region, but this does not necessarily mean that the gem is found only in that region. So, lapis with lots of white calcite stains and green stains may be sold as “Chilean” lapis, but that does not mean it is really Chilean.
High quality Lapis Lazuli with small pyrite shells and attractive golden color. Lapis usually contains varying amounts of whitish calcite matrix from the host rock surrounding Lapis Lazuli, or yellow or shiny pyrite shells or streaks, or both. The gem may also have a uniform body color free of visible pyrite and calcite.
Lapis Lazuli is often cut into cabochons, beads, inlays, or tablets. For centuries, Lapis Lazuli has been cut in such a way that it shows its dark and rich color. As mentioned, Lapis Lazuli cutting styles are often used for jewelry, cabochons, beads, inlays, or tablets as well as decorative engravings.
Today, Lapis stone is usually in the form of free-form sculptures with a nature theme. Some of these carvings turn into wearable jewelry, others are completely decorative.
Lapis Lazuli Value
The value of Lapis lazuli is determined almost entirely by color. Deep blue, intense blue and purple are the most valuable. Homogeneous and fine-grained samples can achieve a smooth and very polished surface and are not in low grades.
Calcite components always devalue, but pyrite components make Lapis more beautiful in the minds of many jewelry collectors and lovers. Of course, enthusiasts may argue about the ideal pyrite content of Lapis lazuli, but they all agree that the lower the calcite, the better the rock. Calcite can be seen as streaks or spots in dark blue or may be in the dominant composition, generally giving a lighter blue shade to the stone.
Lapis Lazuli Care
lapis lazuli with a hardness of 5-6, as a gemstone needs care. However, you will often find this gem in the form of rings and bracelets. Use protective settings for these jewelry pieces and wear them occasionally. Even with protective care, lapis lazuli stones in rings or bracelets may need periodic refilling. On the other hand, use pendants, earrings, brooches and tie pins or collars daily with a little caution.
Use a soft brush and mild soap to clean lapis lazuli. Avoid mechanical cleaning such as steam or ultrasonic systems and chemical solvents.
Lapis Lazuli in Jewelry
Lapis Lazuli, whose popularity has spread across the continents for centuries, can reach new markets. Denim and country-western clothing has opened the door to what was once considered a low-quality, almost unsold material in Chile. Cleverly dubbed “Lapis Lazuli Jane”, it now sells very well.
Jewelers usually set Lapis Lazuli in silver and create medium priced pieces. However, there is a growing trend to imitate the artisans of earlier periods and set high quality stones in gold that complement diamonds or colored gemstones.
Lapis Lazuli is a good choice for men’s jewelry due to its rich and blue color that makes color coordination easy to do. This stone is relatively hard, does not easily show abrasion.
The rich and symbolic history of Lapis Lazuli also makes it a popular jewelry for anyone who loves gemstones.
Lapis Lazuli Treatment
Lapis lazuli are usually treated after cutting and before sale as gemstones, sculptures or complete ornaments. Lapis lazuli is slightly porous and allows it to accept and retain color. Many of the Lapis lazuli that enter the market have been refined with a blue dye to partially obscure the appearance of white calcite. It is then usually refined with wax or oil, which seals the shine of polished surfaces and painted calcite.
Synthetic Lapis Lazuli
Lapis lazuli was synthesized by Pierre Gilson from Paris in France and Carroll Chatham in the United States. Most large jewelry supply houses offer Synthetic Edition jewelry, with or without pyrite.
Although synthetics are the invention of the modern world, the simulation or imitation of Lapis lazuli dates back at least to ancient Egypt. Archaeologists have discovered blue synthetics and blue ceramics instead of natural stone. Even the famous death mask of Tutankhamun King, which includes a real Lapis lazuli inlay for the eyes, has blue tinted glass stripes on the nemes or headdress. These imitations are a sign of ancient demand.
Modern simulators include enamel, glass, plastic, and a variety of painted gemstones such as howlite and jasper, but are mistakenly called “Swiss lapis lazuli.”
Sodalite is the only natural Lapis lazuli that is available large enough and blue deep enough.
An acid test can be used to determine if Lapis lazuli is normal. A drop of hydrochloric acid (HCI) on Lapis lazuli releases H2S gas, the smell of rotten eggs.
Stripe Testing A natural sample of Lapis should have a light blue streak.
Acid testing and linear vein testing are destructive tests and should only be performed by a gemologist.
Fake Lapis Lazuli
Because Lapis Lazuli is so popular, there are many imitations of this gem, such as the German Lapis Lazuli or the Swiss Lapis Lazuli, which is a type of jasper that has turned blue due to potassium cyanide and ferrous sulfate. Other imitations are synthetic porous spinels produced in Germany. Imitation of Lapis Lazuli Blue in ancient Egypt was painted with copper sulfate to give it a special deep blue color.
Composition of Lapis Lazuli
In addition to lazurite, specimens of lapis lazuli usually contain calcite and pyrite. Sodalite, hauyne, wollastonite, afghanite, mica, dolomite, diopside, and a diversity of other minerals might also be present. To be called “lapis lazuli,” a rock must have a distinctly blue color and contain at least 25% blue lazurite.
Calcite is often the second most abundant mineral present in lapis lazuli. Its presence can be very obvious, appearing as white layers, fractures, or mottling. It can also be finely intermixed with lazurite to produce a rock with a faded denim color.
Pyrite usually occurs in lapis lazuli as tiny, randomly spaced grains with a contrasting gold color. When abundant, the grains can be concentrated or intergrown into distinct layers or patches. It can occasionally occur as a fracture-filling mineral.
As a rock, lapis lazuli is composed of several minerals, each with its own hardness, cleavage/fracture characteristics, specific gravity, and color. Hardness ranges from a Mohs 3 for calcite to the 6.5 of pyrite. The hardness of the material depends upon where you test it.
Special properties of Lapis Lazuli
· Healing physical problems originating in the head, such as headaches, sinus ailments and speech problems.
· To increase courage and develop fearlessness.
· Believed by Romans as a powerful aphrodisiac.
· To boost up the wearer’s confidence.
Lapis Lazuli Use as a gemstone
Lapis lazuli is mostly used as a gemstone. This is a popular material commonly used for cutting cabochons and beads. It is also used in inlay or mosaic projects and often as a material for small sculptures. These uses have made Lapis lazuli the most popular matte blue gemstone.
The most popular Lapis lazuli has a solid blue to purple color, although personal preferences vary. Many people find a few randomly placed pieces of gold pyrite or a few broken or white calcite stains beautiful. However, when pyrite or calcite is present in more than a small amount, the desirability of the material and its amount are significantly reduced. The inclusion of gray or gray spots also quickly reduces the desirability.
Because Lapis lazuli has some durability problems, it limits it to specific uses. Lapis lazuli has a hardness of about 5 Mohs, which makes it very soft for use in rings and bracelets. In these uses, Lapis lazuli shows signs of wear and tear with continued use.
Lapis lazuli is best used where wear is less likely, such as earrings, pins and pendants. When stored as unmounted stones or among other jewels, marble may be damaged if the pieces are not separated. Jewelry should be stored in separate boxes or bags or separate containers.
Lapis Lazuli Used as a Pigment
High quality lapis lazuli has been used as a pigment for over 1000 years. The light blue pieces are modified from the impurities and turned into a fine powder. The powder can then be mixed with oil or another vehicle to be used as a dye.
Higher grade pigments can be produced to eliminate the effect of calcite and dolomite diluting the blue color. The materials are then processed to process pyrite grains and other foreign minerals. This lapis-derived pigment was named “ultramarine blue”, a name that has been used for hundreds of years.
During the Renaissance and until the 1800s, deep blue paintings were considered luxurious due to their high cost. High quality lapis lazuli was extracted in Afghanistan and transported to Europe to produce wonderful blue paint. This expensive pigment was usually used only by skilled artists and those with wealthy clients.
Ultramarine blue is made from lapis lazuli, one of the few natural pigments with a permanent and vibrant blue color, good opacity and high stability. This paint has always been very expensive and today can sell for over $ 1,000 per pound.
From the mid-1800s, chemists began producing synthetic blue pigments for use as ultramarine aqueous substitutes made from lapis lazuli. Some of these pigments are known as “ultramarine”. An artist today who wants an ultramarine pigment made from lapis lazuli should be sure that it is not a synthetic pigment and is actually made from lapis lazuli. However, synthetic ultramarine pigments also have their advantages. Their blue color is usually deeper and more compatible than traditional ultra-marines, and they cost much less.
Today, because of the cost, very few ultra-marines made from lapis lazuli are used, mostly by artists trying to learn historical techniques or achieve similar results to the masters of the past. This traditional pigment has been produced by several pigment manufacturers who continue to use lapis lazuli from historical sources in Afghanistan.
Lapis lazuli as gift
lapis lazuli is for those born in December, although history has changed due to changes that sought to sell stones to more accessible to the public. This stone is also the seventh and ninth anniversary and its zodiac sign is Capricorn. However, according to many studies and corrections, they decided to dedicate this stone to those born in September as well. So if you were born in December, keep this blue stone for protection by determining the world and date. And if your month is September, you have the choice.
lapis lazuli has always been one of the oldest gems in the brilliant history of gemstones, and one of the most used in the world to pay tribute and drive away evil.
In fact, the universe is made up of positive vibrations and negative vibrations. In ancient times it was believed that these stones have the ability to take positive energy from the earth and in some cases repel evil, especially in the case of the 12 stones of the pectoral of Moses, which have been considered sacred since their appearance in the Bible. This is where our beautiful blue stone appears.
After discovering this stone and respecting its beauty, people assured that its blue color has the ability to soothe anyone who looks at it. People born in December are characterized by purity and intimacy, and if you need any of these characteristics, this stone will allow you to fill them. If you have this stone nearby, it means that you are carrying a world of amazing energies.