Lapis Lazuli – Gem of Ancient Era
Lapis Lazuli Gemstone is also known as Lajward. It is an ancient stone and found in several locations around the world. The finest lapis comes from Badakhshan Province of Northern Afghanistan and it was mined continuously for over 6,000 years.
Lapis Lazuli Gemstone is one of the earliest gemstone materials and was used as sacred amulets in ancient Egypt and by Assyrians and Babylonians. Historians believe that Cleoptara used powdered lapis for decorating eyes. It was used as an eye shadow.
Lapis Lazuli Gemstone powder was the greatest source of blue pigment and was also known as ultramarine, also used by painters from medieval period. The synthetic variety of ultramarine was discovered early in 19th century.
Lapis is a rock and not a mineral. This is because lapis is normally a mixture of 3 minerals; lazurit, calcite and pyrite. Lazurite is complex mineral containing sulfur and it gives vivid blue color to the lapis. Calcite is calcium carbonate, a white mineral which is responsible for white steaks in lapis. Pyrite is iron sulfide, which is white-golden in color and gives distinct glitter to the stone.
The finest lapsi lazuli is intense deep blue color and is smooth and fine-grained. It is glossy with polished surface. The calcite can be seen white streaks or patches within darker blue color. Pyrite inclusions are generally valued by collectors, but inclusions should not be too large as it can discolor edges.
Lapis is a soft stone and has a hardnes of 5 to 6 on Mohs scale. It is also porous and should be kept away from solvent and chemicals. Lapis is always cut as cabochons or beads, or carved into variety of different ornamental objects. Although there are many choices today in blue gemstones, lapis is a unique gemstone and attractive too.