The stunning blues in paintings from the Renaissance are thanks to the blue of lapis lazuli, the blue rock loved by the ancients, from Mesopotamia, to Egypt, Persia, Greece and Rome. The ancient city of Ur had a thriving trade in lapis as early as the fourth millennium B.C.
The name is from the Latin, lapis, which means stone, and from the Arabic, azul, which means blue although some scholars say it derives from a Persian word lazhward meaning blue.
When lapis was first introduced to Europe, it was called ultramarinum, which means beyond the sea. Ground lapis was the secret of the blue in ultramarine, the pigment which painters used to paint the sea and the sky until the nineteenth century. Lapis was also popular in inlays.
Although lapis, as it is often called, is deep blue, its colour does show variation depending on its source and exact composition. Some material is lighter blue or greenish blue, some a rich purple blue, almost black. The best colour is an intense deep blue.
It usually contains golden flecks of pyrites. These are normally regarded as increasing the desirability, and are an indication of authenticity. Lapis also contains calcite, which sometimes shows as white flecks. These flecks are regarded as decreasing its beauty and desirability especially if they are large or numerous, although tiny flecks can help to indicate that it is genuine.
Lapis lazuli is still mined at the deposits of the ancient world in Afghanistan and is also mined in Chile. Small quantities are also mined in Siberia, Colorado, the United States, and in Myanmar.
Lapis Lazuli is not very hard and can easily be scratched or chipped. Water can dissolve the stone's protective coating, hence clean your lapis lazuli jewellery with a soft dry cloth. It is porous and should be protected from chemicals and solvents.
Lapis is said to increase psychic abilities, be a cure for melancholy and for certain types of fever. Lapis lazuli eliminates negative emotions. It relieves sore throat pain.
Traditionally believed to increase mental clarity, virility, and calm, Lapis Lazuli is an energy focuser for teachers, lecturers and speakers. It enhances creative self-expression and is believed to be useful in relieving depression and promoting spirituality. Lapis Lazuli is also powerful during meditation.
Lapis shares the birthstone for September with Sapphire.
Lapis is the gemstone for the ninth wedding anniversary.
All the lapis lazuli stones used in our lapis lazuli jewellery are natural.