Lapis Lazuli – Gemstone of the Starry Night Sky

by Lara Gems April 05, 2019

Lapis Lazuli Dancing Orbit necklace by Gems In Style Jewellery

Lapis Lazuli, a true legend among gemstones, has kept people spellbound for over 6,500 years. The intense blue colour of Lapis Lazuli, often naturally infused with golden glints, always reminds them of the starry night sky – the dwelling of the Gods.

The beauty of this gem is in its window to something bigger than our mind can comprehend. It invites us to look up and learn to see into the mysteries of the world.

Some ancient civilisations valued Lapis Lazuli even more than gold. Not much has changed since then. High quality Lapis Lazuli gemstone is still prized no less than ancient or medieval times. The world’s most renown jewellery houses keep delighting us with mesmerizing and timeless pieces made of Lapis Lazuli, richly adorned with gold and diamonds.

What Is Lapis Lazuli?

Perhaps you are wondering how exactly Mother Earth could possible produce such an outstanding gemstone. Which ingredients did she use to create this vivid blue colour and then artfully embellish it with star-like looking golden flecks?

Lazurite, Pyrite, Calcite

Geologically speaking, Lapis Lazuli is a rock composed of several minerals in different proportions. The most important components are:

    • Lazurite – bright royal blue
    • Calcite – white
    • Pyrite – metallic yellow

Lapis Lazuli may also contain small amount of Sodalite and Hauyne – blue coloured minerals. Each of these ingredients readily present in nature as an independent mineral but it takes extreme heat, pressure and many thousands of years for Mother Earth to actually give birth to this relatively rare gemstone, Lapis Lazuli.

Depending on the proportion of these minerals Lapis Lazuli may display, so to speak, all ‘‘50 Shades of Blue”. The market value formula, however, is simple:

The deeper and more evenly distributed blue colour, the higher priced the stone.

As you may have guessed by now, high quality Lapis Lazuli (higher grade) gemstones predominantly consist of blue Lazurite with very moderate inclusions of golden Pyrite and very little or, even better, no visible presence of white Calcite.

Lapis Lazuli Jewellery

Interestingly, since the time of Egyptian pharaohs’ and till now the best-quality deep blue Lapis Lazuli still comes from the mines of Afghanistan, the oldest known source of this unique gemstone.

Much later, lighter blue Lapis Lazuli specimens were found in Chile, Italy, Argentina, Russia and the USA, but they could not compete with those from Afghanistan. So if you are lucky to buy high quality Lapis Lazuli from Afghanistan there is a chance that it was derived from the same deposit as those gemstones used for the adornment of Egyptian pharaohs.

Lapis Lazuli – History and Lore

Since the 7th Millennium BC Lapis Lazuli has been sourced and widely traded across the ancient world from the only known deposit – the Sar-e-Sang mine in a remote mountain valley in Afghanistan.

Mighty Pharaoh’s, seductive Cleopatra, wise Greeks and Chinese as well as powerful royal dynasties — all highly valued Lapis Lazuli not only for its mesmerising colour but also for unique spiritual properties. They believed the gemstone looked and felt like the starry night sky and was able to take them “higher”, facilitating connections to the world of the Gods and therefore providing power, protection and guidance. That is why Lapis Lazuli was regarded as the “Stone of Royalty” and the “Stone of the Gods”.

Lapis Lazuli –  the Pharaohs’ Time

Ancient Egyptians believed that Lapis Lazuli was able to connect them to higher realms. For that powerful civilisation the gemstone had a great spiritual significance symbolising heaven, death, and the afterlife. The famous gold funeral mask of Tutankhamun was richly inlaid with Lapis Lazuli as well as Obsidian to protect the pharaoh so that his soul could be reborn.

Egyptian Pharaohs

“My heart is mine in the house of hearts, my chest is mine in the house of chests, my heart is mine, and is content with me”

From the Egyptian Book of the Dead, c.1550 BCE, engraved on Lapis Lazuli.

Egyptian Fashion & Gemstones

While pharaohs were busy with reaching out to the higher realms, other wealthy ancient Egyptians, both men and women, adorned themselves with collars, bracelets and amulets made of gems like lapis lazuli, turquoise and carnelian. Fashion wise, as far as we know, their clothing was pretty colourless, so they definitely enjoyed the bright colours of gemstones.

Ancient Egypt Art

Lapis Lazuli for Cleopatra’s Eyeshadow

As the legend goes, Cleopatra was the first woman who came up with the idea of mixing powdered gemstones – blue Lapis Lazuli and green Malachite – to make the first eyeshadow. This dramatic eye makeup became her signature style for centuries to come. But at that time it was definitely more than just a beauty statement, Lapis Lazuli was believed to enhance spiritual consciousness and bring occult powers.

Powdered Lapis Lazuli: from Ancient Medicine to Renaissance Paintings

Lapis Lazuli glorious journey through times and civilizations wasn’t limited by spiritual, ritualistic and aesthetic purposes. Ground Lapis Lazuli was sometimes administered as a “medication”. Around 55 CE, the Greek physician Dioscorides noted that Lapis Lazuli was an antidote for snake venom. Even earlier than this, the Assyrians used it as a cure for melancholy. You may see the logic here, the elixir of the starry night sky was considered as a remedy to fight one’s low spirit. But there’s more...

Ultramarine Pigment

During the Middle Ages and Renaissance, Lapis Lazuli began to be exported to Europe and was highly valued as a source of the finest and most expensive of all pigments – ultramarine. The greatest Renaissance masters such as Perugino, Michelangelo and Vermeer often reserved ultramarine to depict the robes of Angels and the Virgin Mary to create magnificent iridescent blues and give paintings a multidimensional look.

Lapis Lazuli — Intuition Based on Deep Vision and Knowledge

Remember how you feel when you look up to the stars? Most likely, you find yourself in a very different state of mind in a matter of seconds as if you are channeling directly from the wisdom of the universe. It brings mental clarity and suddenly you can “see and be more”. It’s inspiring and mesmerizing, it takes you far away to no limits… literally.

Just like gazing at the starry night sky takes your consciousness to a whole new level, tuning into Lapis Lazuli gemstone may help amplify your vision and ignite your intuition. All you need to do is simply silence your mind (well, not that simple actually, but definitely worth doing) and plug your consciousness into the celestial blue of Lapis Lazuli.  

This is how you can make yourself available for something bigger than your mind and connect to cosmic consciousness. Lapis Lazuli is your invitation to significantly expand your deep reaching vision of this reality and find missing links in any situation: here, there, anywhere.

Starry Night Sky

Lapis Lazuli activates your Third Eye and Throat Chakra facilitating self-awareness and self-expression. As a result, it brings harmony to relationships and boosts confidence. At the same time, the gemstone is regarded for its potential to amplify intellectual ability, sharpen the mind and improve memory.

That makes jewellery with this gem a perfect fit for anyone who studies or is involved with demanding business activities. Generally speaking, the direct and honest energy of Lapis Lazuli helps develop vision and achieve mental clarity that brings solutions. Lapis Lazuli has always been considered a powerful amulet that bounces any negativity and protects the wearer. What not to love about this gemstone?

Lapis Lazuli Jewellery and Quality Assessment

Just like the starry night sky, the finest and most expensive stones have deep vivid blue colour often enriched with subtle golden flecks of Pyrite. Gemstones of this quality are priced highly and mostly used to create fine jewellery.

However, the market is full of affordable Lapis Lazuli beads and jewellery made of lower or very low quality stones. To make low grade Lapis Lazuli look better, stones are often dyed to hide an excessive presence of white Calcite and other unwanted minerals.

Sometimes it may be very difficult to recognise if Lapis Lazuli has been dyed or even imitated (faux). Especially so if you are not very skilled at stone assessment. So the price and the quality of jewellery itself will be a major indication for you to consider what kind of stone is in front of you… And you may always ask the seller if the stone has been treated, some of them won’t hide the truth if they are even bothered to know what they are selling.

Explore the magic of high quality genuine Lapis Lazuli in modern minimalist jewellery by Gems In Style

Lapis Lazuli jewellery by Gems In Style

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Lara Gems
Lara Gems

Author

Gemstone Strategist and Founder of Gems In Style Jewellery


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