Lapis lazuli is a semiprecious gemstone prized since antiquity for its intense blue color. It gets that brilliant blue color from the sulfur content in the stone.
Lapis is a rock, not a mineral, mined in northern Afghanistan where deposits have been worked for more than 6000 years. These mines were the source of lapis for the Egyptians and Mesopotamians and later for the Greek and Roman civilizations.
Lapis was among the first gemstones to be worn as jewelry. In ancient Egypt lapis lazuli was a favorite stone for amulets, scarabs and other ornaments. Lapis jewelry has been found in Egyptian excavations and historical legend says that powdered lapis was used as eye shadow by Cleopatra.
Lapis with an opaque deep blue color is highly prized-even more so when it has inclusions of golden pyrite that shimmer like tiny stars. Lapis with a higher quantity of calcite has a lighter blue color and is marketed as denim lapis.
Lapis is said to harmonize your heart and mind as it forges stronger bonds between them. It is regarded by many people around the world as the stone of friendship and truth. The blue stone encourages harmony in relationships and helps its wearer to be authentic and to give his or her opinion openly.
Lapis takes an excellent polish and can be made into jewelry, carvings, boxes, mosaics, ornaments and vases. It was once ground and processed to make the pigment ultramarine for tempera paint.
Treat your lapis stones with care and their beauty will never fade. Lapis, having only the hardness of 5 to 5.5 should be protected from rubbing and scratching against harder stones and surfaces, such as other jewelry within a jewelry box. It is a medium hard stone and it is slightly porous. Avoid exposing it to chemicals and solvents. The best way to clean the stone is with mild, warm, soapy water. Apply perfumes and hairsprays before putting on your lapis jewelry.
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