Lapis Lazuli and its properties.
Lapis Lazuli is a beautiful blue opaque gemstone. It has been considered as a holy stone, a friendship stone and a stone of truth throughout its lifetime of use, Lapis Lazuli encourages the wearer to speak their mind and create harmonious relationships.
Lapis, historically, was ground and the pigments used for paint by artists. It provided a bright blue colour that was extremely rare. Hence it was always used sparingly. When found in artwork it was a sign that the person commissioning the piece had spent a great deal of money.
Lapis Lazuli was mentioned in 2650 BC in the Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh. The ancient Egyptians used it extensively in religious ceremonies, and Lapis Luzuli items were found in the tomb of Tutankhamen.
Lapis Luzuli is cut and polished to make gemstones for jewellery and is also used as a decorative stone. Because it is slightly soft, it is normally cut as cabochons and used for beads, inlay material and small carved items.
The value of this gemstone is largely determined by the abundance and colour of the dark intense blue lazurite. The colours range from greenish-blue to purple-blue. The flecks of gold pyrite and white calcite can often increase the value. However, when these are too numerous or too large, they can decrease the value.
For over 6000 years the Sar-e-Sang deposit in Afghanistan has been continuously unearthing this vibrant coloured gemstone. To this day it is still responsible for some of the finest Lapis Lazuli on the planet. Unfortunately these deposits are not easily accessed as they are located high up in the Kokcha valley in the northeast.
Lapis Lazuli is sensitive to strong pressure and high temperatures, hot baths and acids and alkalies. Rings should be taken off when doing housework.
A really beautiful blue stone which makes it a must for wearing and for collecting.
The popularity and value of good-quality Lapis Lazuli has resulted in numerous imitations appearing on the market.
The large number of minerals that are stained or dyed blue can all be identified as imitations. This is due to the lack of pyrite inclusions, a difference in texture and/or hardness and visible pockets of dye. The natural colouring agent is sulphur. In the best quality specimens, the colour is evenly distributed, but in general it is spotty or striated.
Lapis Lazuli has been worn in the belief that it will protect the wearer from evil. The opaque mineral takes a good polish but may lose some of its lustre because of its softness.
Lapis Lazuli is mentioned in the Biblical book of Exodus. In the 17th century it was used in medicine to prevent miscarriages, epilepsy and dementia, as well as acting as a powerful aphrodisiac.
This gemstone’s value is often enhanced by the presence of small pieces of Pyrite. Also affecting the price is whether the gem has been enhanced or whether it is totally natural. Totally natural pieces can fetch around $100 per carat in the trade.
It is most common when set in silver or platinum; however, it shows its lovely blue colour when found set in gold.
It is often used in rings for the gentleman as it seems to show boldness and masculinity.
In Britain it is one of the recognised birthstones of September, alongside sapphire.
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