Lapis Lazuli has one of the longest traditions of being recognized as a gemstone and its history can be traced back thousands of years. Along with Turquoise it was one of the most sought after gemstones of earlier civilizations including Babylonia, Ur and Ancient Egypt. It was used extensively in religious ceremonies and numerous carvings were found in ancient Egyptian tombs including that of Tutankhamun which date back as far as 3000 BC. Tutankhamun's funerary mask is inlaid with Lapis Lazuli, white Quartz, Obsidian, Turquoise, Carnelian and coloured glass.
In the ancient world including Greece and Rome it is believed to have been called "Sapphirus" and was described by Theophrastus and Pliny the Elder as being a stone spotted with gold dust. It was used for jewellery, amulets and talismans and in ancient Egypt was believed to lead the soul in to immortality and open the heart to love. Roman, Persian and Chinese women powdered it down and used it to paint their eyebrows and it was also mentioned in the Bible in the book of Exodus where it was said to have been one of the twelve gemstones in the Jewish High Priest's breastplate (breastplate of Aaron) although as with some of the other gemstones that were used, this cannot be confirmed due to confusion over the name "Sapphirus".
The ancient Romans believed Lapis Lazuli to be an effective aphrodisiac and the Chilean mine is known to have been active at least 1500 years BC. During an excavation of the royal graves in the ancient Sumerian city of Ur, some magnificent artifacts with Lapis Lazuli and Carnelian were discovered that boasted impressive skilled artwork. Some of the items included vessels, headdresses, necklaces, a lion's head (significant in Sumerian mythology), a cosmetic box, a dagger and sheath and a diadem all of which were crafted using gold or silver. These items have been dated to 2650 BC. - 2500 BC. and indicate great wealth as these materials were not available in Sumeria so an extensive network of trade must have been in place. Sumer was one of the earliest civilizations and was located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Mesopotamia, modern day Iraq. The Lapis Lazuli from which the artifacts in the royal graves were made, is likely to have come from the mines in Badakhshan, Northern Afghanistan and some of the finest grade gemstones still come from there today. It is thought they may be amongst the oldest continually worked mines in the world and may have been the source of the gems which were supplied to the Pharaohs. Marco Polo visited and subsequently wrote about them around 1271.
The mineral Lazurite is its main component and is responsible for its incredible blue colour but it can also contain Feldspar, Mica, Diopside, Calcite, Pyrite and Sodalite. The finest grade material is a very dark blue with minor patches of white Calcite and gold coloured specks of Pyrite.
In crystal healing it is said to be the key to spiritual attainment and can help expand intellectual capacity and awareness. It helps to stimulate emotional, mental and physical purity and clarity and is a useful companion in the organization of daily life. It enhances dream work and metaphysical abilities, facilitates spiritual journeys and stimulates personal and spiritual power. A serene gemstone, it is extremely protective and stimulates higher mental faculties and encourages creativity.
Lapis Lazuli is mined in numerous locations around the world including Chile, Siberia, Angola, Myanmar (formerly Burma), Pakistan, USA , Afghanistan, Canada and Italy. It is graded 5 to 5.5 on Mohs scale of mineral hardness.
Our collection of Lapis Lazuli jewellery
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