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What is the story of lapis lazuli?

By Alina

Marketing and Communications Advisor with a passion for diamonds and a nose for trends. Always happy to share the latest developments in the jewelry business with you.

March 3, 2021

The beautiful, eccentric blue stone is highly praised over thousands of years. Jewelry made from this lazurite-rich stone has been found in prehistoric tombs in Asia, Africa & Europe. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that symbolism around this stone goes way back in history. Even historians believe that early references to sapphire actually refer to Lapis Lazuli.

Where is Lapis Lazuli found?

The Lapis Lazuli was found and mined in Turkestan, the current area of Kazakstan, Uzbekistan & Kyrgyzstan. The gemstone was cherished and found by cultures in Egypt, Greece, and the Chinese dynasties. One of these ‘cherish areas’ was Bactria, the current Afghan state Badakhshan. This province is characterized by huge mountain walls, dry ground, and minimal vegetation. Life is practically unavailable.

Despite these raw circumstances, it had one reason that attracted visitors to Bactria: the azure-blue Lapis Lazuli. Inhabitants of Bactria had ‘the diamond fever’ and after digging the stone in, their caravans transported the valuable stone across Bactria and went to Greek, Egyptian and Persian cities. This is the reason that the stone was spread over several cultures. Later in history mentions of the Lapis Lazuli were found in the memoirs of Marco Polo when he crossed the area in 1271.

Nowadays a few mines in Badakshan are still active and attract tourists and we see the stone a lot in Russian buildings and the palace Zarskoje-Selo in St. Petersburg. 
 

Where does Lapis Lazuli get its name from?

The name of  Lapis Lazuli  has a long history and is a combination of two meanings: Lapis, the Latin word for “stone” and lazuli. Lazuli comes from the Arabic word lãzaward and has its origins in Persian Lãžward, the place where the stone was first found. Later lãžward took on the meaning “blue”, inspired by the color of the stone.

The 5 physical properties of Lapis Lazuli

 

  • The Lapis contains lazurite, the reason for the typical color.
  • This blue color gets described as ‘indigo’, royalty, and marine blue.
  • 5-5,5 on a scale of Mohs. Therefore the jewelry damages easily.
  • semi-translucent to opaque.
  • Contains calcite and pyrite, it can also contain one or more of the following: diopside, amphibole, feldspar, and mica.

The colors and their influence on Lapis’ value

Lapis Lazuli’s signature color palette contains greenish to violetish blue and of course the deep blue color. Lapis Lazuli without visible calcite has the highest value. A Lapis contains golden-colored flecks, these flecks determine the authenticity of a Lapis Lazuli. The lowest-quality Lapis looks mat and green, which is an excess of pyrite. Also, Lapis with white calcite streaks is less valuable.

Jewelry and objects made of Lapis Lazuli

For thousands of years, jewelry made of Lapis Lazuli has been fashioned to emphasize its rich, dark color. Typically, Lapis Lazuli used in jewelry has been cut into cabochons, beads, inlays, and tablets. However, Lapis Lazuli’s use has never been limited to jewelry alone. It is also a popular carving material. In history, Lapis has been fashioned into practical objects including bowls, game boards, and dagger handles. 

Lapis Lazuli, zodiac signs, and 9 spiritual meanings

The 9 spiritual meanings of Lapis Lazuli :

  1. Inner truth
  2. Inner power
  3. Love
  4. Purification
  5. Intuition
  6. Positive magic
  7. Self-confidence
  8. Manifestation
  9. Friendship

Lapis Lazuli has a wealth of meaning. It is one of the birthstones for December and an alternative birthstone on for January and September. The stone helps to calm down and focus. The stone is known to improve the consciousness of the Capricorn. Lapis influences other zodiac signs as well; it gives awareness to Sagittarius, brings intuition to Virgo and Cancer, and delivers Libra inner strength. It can also lead you to spiritual enlightenment and help with the healing of the mind, spirit, and body. 

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