Lapis Lazuli

Lapis Lazuli is a rare, semi-precious stone, highly prized because of its bright blue color. It has been highly valued since antiquity. The finest lapis lazuli gemstones come from northern Afghanistan, in the Badakhshan province. It isn't actually a mineral, but a rock constituting of more than one mineral. The purest of lapis have that intense blue color, with light specks of golden pyrite. Stones with little or no golden pyrite specks and veins have higher value. Usually, stones with inferior quality are dyed to improve its color.
Lapis Information

The stone is fairly soft and somewhat porous, thus it should be protected from chemicals and solvents. Lapis are commonly seen in jewelry and ornaments. They are usually cut as beads, or carved into ornamental objects.
The stone is considered as the stone of friendship and truth. It is believed to encourage friendships and relationships, and ward off cruelty and wickedness. It is also known as the stone of truth, and is believed to develop intelligence and inner vision. It helps the wearer conquer misery, fight off nightmares and feel more calm and tranquil.
Origin of the Name Lapis Lazuli
Lapis is the Latin word for "stone", while Lazuli is a genitive form of the Latin "lazulum", which comes from the Arabic word "lazaward", which in turn comes from the Persian word "Lazhvard", which was the name of the place were lapis lazuli was originally mined. The word "azure" (or French "azur", Italian "azzurro", and Spanish "azul") got its name from lazuli, which means the color blue. Taken as a whole, the gemstone means "the stone of Lazhvard".
Where Lapis is Found
The best lapis lazuli gemstones are found in Kokcha River, in Badakhshan, Afghanistan. This has been the mining site of lapis lazuli stones for more than 6,000 years. Badakhshan was the source of the stones since the ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian period. It still was during the Ancient Greek and Roman civilization, during the Indus civilization, and until now. Apart from Afghanistan, other sources of lapis are in Andes, in Chile, as well as in Russia, Angola, Burma, Siberia, Pakistan, USA, India, and Canada.
Lapis Lazuli was a favorite stone in the course of history. Ancient Egyptians used the stone for amulets, ornaments and scarabs. The Ancient Babylonians used the stone for their seals. Cleopatra used powdered lapis as her eye shadow back in the days. As inscribed in the Egyptian "Book of the Dead", the stone was considered an amulet that brings great power. In the ancient Sumerian tombs located in Ur, more than 6,000 beautiful statuettes of rodents, birds and dear were found, made of pure lapis lazuli. Many Akkadian and Sumerian poetry makes reference to the stone as a gem of royal splendor. The stone still holds importance during the Medieval and Renaissance period, as seen in the illuminated manuscripts and panels derived from the stone.
The stone is the most prized blue of all time. They were used as blue paints by painters before 19th century, despite its costly sum. They were grounded up together so that they can be used as paints. Many portraits of the Virgin Mary were created using this expensive blue paint. Unlike other blue paints that tend to pale when in light, it doesn't lose its radiance until this very day. Today, the lapis is still used, though for restoration purposes only.

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