One of the oldest gemstones known is the BIG BLUE Lapis. It has a broad and long history in jewelry and remains a staple, rich, inviting gemstone. Reasonably priced and fashioned, carved and set in any metal. Lapis is a wonderful choice for a fashion staple in any person’s jewelry box.
“The fascination of deep blue matrix speckled with golden colored pyrite flecks of lapis lazuli goes back several millennia, almost to the beginning of all civilizations. So much so, that the majority of Ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian jewelry contained lapis lazuli and it was sourced all the way from Middle Asia, today’s Afghanistan. The trade is well known between these geographies, yet why and how will always remain as unanswered questions because it all started before any written reference could be created. Pigments and dyes were important commodities as everything was derived from natural sources until the industrial revolution. Most dyes were plantbased while pigments were mostly from minerals such as hematite, malachite and, of course, lapis lazuli. Until the production of synthetic dyes, deep blue pigment, aka, ultramarine, from lapis was worth as gold. Today, lapis lazuli is mostly regarded as a gem material and utilized at almost all level of jewelry market from high end to inexpensive beads. Large boulders are popular display pieces and its tough but not so hard structure makes it an attractive carving material. Lapis lazuli is mostly known to be from Afghanistan but also found in Russia, Chile, Myanmar, Tajikistan and Colorado, USA. As mentioned above, Afghan material is the oldest known. Russian lapis has been used in Faberge eggs historically and still in production. Chilean lapis is also known to be used in indigenous artefacts of the region and was part of the ancient trade.” (From Gemworld International this month )
Lapis lazuli is a rock, which means it’s an aggregate of several minerals. This ancient gem contains three minerals in varying amounts: lazurite, calcite, and pyrite. Sometimes, it also contains one or more of the following: diopside, amphibole, feldspar, and mica.
“Afghanistan is the world’s major source of lapis lazuli as well as the major source of the gem’s best color.” – Dr. Edward J. Gubelin