Over 6,500 years ago, lapis lazuli jewelry was one of the first opaque gemstones discovered. This deep blue stone has tiny mica specks all around it that are like stars in the night sky. Its most well-known source is hidden deep in Afghanistan’s contemporary mountains.
The Latin term lapis, which means “stone,” and the Persian word lazhuward, which means “blue,” are the two parts of the stone’s two-part name. It is a rock that contains several minerals, including lazurite, diopside, calcite, pyrite, and others; it is neither an element nor a mineral.
Given that the sapphire gemstone was unknown in the Middle East before the Roman Empire, biblical historians think that references to “sapphire” in the Old Testament actually refer to lapis lazuli. This deep blue stone, adored by the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Minoans, Chinese, Greeks, and even the Romans, has been employed in the best artwork throughout history. One of the stone’s most well-known applications is in King Tutankhamun’s death mask, where it is inlaid with turquoise and carnelian in brilliant gold. Cleopatra, one of his successors, is reported to have used ground lapis lazuli as eyeshadow. Lapis lazuli mines were first mentioned by Marco Polo in 1271!
The deep blue paint known as ultramarine, which was used to paint Mary of Nazareth’s gowns on church walls and ceilings like those in the Sistine Chapel, was created in the medieval ages when painters ground up lapis lazuli. Pre-Columbian tribes such as the Diguita and Inca were carving, trading, and fighting over lapis lazuli from mines in what is now Argentina and Chile at the same time in South America.
Metaphysical Properties of Lapis Lazuli
While the ancient Egyptians interpreted it as a representation of the night sky, the Sumerians thought that the stone contained the essence of their gods. Lapis lazuli has been linked to power and bravery, monarchy and knowledge, intelligence and truth since the dawn of time. Lapis lazuli has been worn for centuries in the hope that it will fend against evil. It was powdered and placed over the eyes in ancient Egypt to enhance vision. Some people now believe it to be a tool for balancing the brow chakra, which affects eyesight and hearing. Headaches, anxiety, and skin issues are allegedly brought on by brow (or blue) chakra imbalances.
Care of Lapis Lazuli
The Mohs Hardness Scale places lapis lazuli in the center, making it more challenging than a variety of other common stones but softer than many transparent faceted gems. Because it contains calcite, lapis is also sensitive to household cleaners and abrasives. Lapis lazuli shouldn’t be exposed to sunlight for extended periods of time since the sun can degrade the stone’s hue.
Lapis lazuli can be submerged in water. However, because of its porous nature, it is not advised to do so for long periods of time. Undyed lapis should be cleaned in lukewarm, soapy water; before washing, test dyed materials to see how they respond to water. Clean them with a soft cloth and store them dry in a separate bag or box so that other jewelry cannot scratch them or cause them to be scratched. Avoid using steam cleaners and ultrasonography!
Using lapis lazuli in design
The matrix or feathering of lapis lazuli in royal blue is typically either pale or yellowish. When it has white speckles, silver, and turquoise go fantastically with it for a Southwestern appearance. It is regal with gold if it contains brassy flecks. Lapis also contain darker areas that can be highlighted by adding black onyx or antiqued silver beads to a string of beads. Lapis can be used in a design with coral or fire-orange carnelian for a dazzling appearance or harmoniously with faceted purple amethyst.
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