Lapis Lazuli is notable thanks to its magnificent blue color, due to the existence of substance so-called “lazurite” inside it. By the way, the ancients called it “Sapphirus,” although they called all the blue stones by this name.
The name “Lapis Lazuli” came to us from Arabic and means a “Blue Color.” Theophrastus compares Lapis Lazuli with a blue gemstone, marked with “gold dust,” whereas Pliny mentions this gem as a blue sky, full of the “golden stars.”
This gemstone was found yet in Egyptian tombs. When Marco Polo paid a visit to Asian mines, he has discovered that the mines have been developed previously.
Lapis Lazuli was used by our ancestors chiefly for ornamental purposes, in the form of mosaic to decorate walls, to create vases, brooches and so on, and only a small amount of most valuable specimens has been used for personal adornment. Ancient Assyrians and Chaldeans used this gemstone to decorate their temples, though, in the Middle Ages, Lapis Lazuli has been also used as an ornamental stone in Europe.
The evidences of ornamental use of Lapis Lazuli can be found, by exploring such distinguished buildings as the chapel of San Martino, at Naples and the palace of Russian Empress Catherine II. By the way, there is one room in the Catherine’s Palace, where all the wall entirely decorated with this gemstone.
Despite its name, Lapis Lazuli is not always of blue color. It may occur of violet, pale blue, green, and even red color. Its color depends on the presence of lazurite substance inside a mineral rock, where it’s mined.
Consistence & Properties
Lapis Lazuli is not a single mineral. It represents a mixture of several minerals. The base of this gemstone constitutes lazurite. Lapis Lazuli is an opaque pretty soft stone. Its hardness is only 5-5,5, according to the Mohs Scale. The color of Lapis Lazuli chiefly depends on two factors: the place of origin and the mixture of elements, it made of.
The best specimens of Lapis Lazuli, applicable for jewelry purposes, previously, were supplied from Afghanistan (Oxus River). These specimens, subsequently appeared on Chinese, Byzantine and Russian markets. Subsequent discoveries of other mines have allowed to distribute this gem bypassing the Afghanistan market.
Russian and Tajiks specimens possess the same quality as Afghan ones. By the way, it is not hard to synthesize Lapis Lazuli, using Gilson process, therefore many of jewelry stores sell these artificial gems. However, Lapis Lazuli, being primarily a mixture of kinds is not too precious to compare it with its artificial “inferior brother.”
According to the U.K. chart, Lapis Lazuli is a Birthstone appropriate for September