The stunningly blue lapis lazuli has been mined in Afghanistan since at least the 3rd millennium BC. It has been found as far away as Siberia and Mauritania as well. Its beauty captured many ancient cultures, and jewels have been found in a variety of archeological sites.
Properties and Composition
The largest component of lapis lazuli is a compound known as lazurite, which typically makes up 25 percent to 40 percent of the stone. This compound is a feldspathoid silicate mineral. Other common minerals found in the stone are calcite, pyrite, sodalite, augite, mica, enstatite, diopside, hauynite, nosean, and hornblende. Contact metamorphism often results in the stone becoming a crystalline marble.
Today, the stone is frequently used in decorative pieces such as vases, ornaments, boxes, carvings, mosaics, and jewelry. It is even occasionally ground and used in certain paints.
In ancient times it is associated with the ancient Egyptians, where evidence suggests that it was used in amulets such as scarabs. It was even used as eye shadow by Cleopatra. Throughout ancient Mesopotamia the stone was used for different pieces of jewelry and seals and has been found in different burial sites.
Where the Stone is Found
The stone is largely concentrated in northern Afghanistan, where it has been mined for probably more than 6,000 years. It is believed that this deposit was the source of the stone for the ancient people of Mesopotamia and Egypt. The stone also has modest deposits in Angola, Russia, Siberia, Argentina, Chile, Burma, India, Canada, Pakistan and even in California and Colorado in the United States. Recently, the stone has also been artificially created through the Gilson process.
The lapis lazuli is a beautiful stone that has been loved by people for thousands of years. The majestic blue captures the imagination. Found all over the world, even in scientific laboratories, the stone is still popular today.
Jessica B for Raymond Lee Jewelers, South Florida’s premiere source for buying and selling luxury watches and designer jewelry.