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.” However, they applied this term to all the stones of the blue color.
The name “Lapis Lazuli” came to us from Arabic and distributing 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.”
Even Egyptian tombs contained this gemstone. When Marco Polo paid a visit to Asian mines, he discovered that someone developed the mines previously.
Our ancestors used Lapis Lazuli for ornamental purposes, in the form of mosaic to decorate walls, to create vases, brooches and so on. They used only a small amount of most valuable specimens for personal adornment. Ancient Assyrians and Chaldeans used this gemstone to decorate their temples. Though, in the Middle Ages, Lapis Lazuli was an ornamental stone in Europe as well.
The evidence of the decorative 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.
Also, the ancients used Lapis Lazuli to extract ultramarine pigment from it. The painters have used this dye.
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.
Lapis Lazuli is not a single crystal. It represents a mixture of several kinds of 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.
Lapis Lazuli is primarily obtained in Asia Minor (principally in Afganistan and Tajikistan), in Russia (Siberia), and also in Myanmar, the US and South America.
The best specimens of Lapis Lazuli, applicable for jewelry purposes, previously, were supplied from Afghanistan (Oxus River). These samples later appeared on the Chinese, Byzantine and Russian markets. Subsequent discoveries of other mines have allowed distributing 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 false “inferior brother.”
According to the U.K. chart, Lapis Lazuli is a Birthstone appropriate for September.