Lapis Lazuli is a semi-precious stone that is well-known for its intense deep royal blue colour and shimmering golden flecks, that remind us of a starry night sky. These deep blue gemstones have been prized for hundreds of years for their beautiful natural variations, by different civilizations such as the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans to name a few. The name comes from the Persian word ‘lazhward’ meaning ‘blue’, whilst ‘lapis’ is a Latin word simply meaning ‘stone’.
Lapis Lazuli stone is said to be one of the first gemstones to be fashioned into beads and worn as jewelry.
Mosaico's Lapis Lazuli jewelry set: Bluebell earrings and necklace, and Bluebell bracelet.
This natural gemstone has been found across Western Asia in Bronze Age settlements in objects such as bowls and daggers with Lapis lazuli handles dating back to 3000 BC. In its early days in Europe the stone was also ground up and used as a pigment by painters such as Michelangelo. In the 16th century, sculptors across Europe, particularly in Italy, were producing gorgeous ornamental objects made from this natural gemstone, such as decorative cups and inlaid table tops.
The most famous piece featuring Lapis lazuli stone is probably the legendary death mask of Tutankhamun. It has inlays of Lapis around the eyes and eyebrows, as well as to create the stripes on the beard. This magnificent mask lay hidden in Tutankhamun’s tomb for over 3000 years before being discovered in 1925 by Howard Carter. You can find this art piece now displayed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. In 2014 the Lapis inlaid beard was actually knocked off by museum cleaning staff and hastily glued back on! Fortunately, however, this ‘fix’ was spotted the following year and the mask has since been properly restored.
How does Lapis differ from other semi-precious stones?
Lapis lazuli is not actually a mineral, but a rock, consisting of as many as 15 different minerals. It is formed deep underground by the contact metamorphism of limestone. Its dramatic blue colour is caused by the presence of sulphur, but it is the flecks of whites and yellows, caused by minerals such as Calcite and Pyrite respectively, that give this natural stone its distinctive pattern. They can also boost its value.
The most famous Lapis lazuli gemstone mines are found at Sar-i-Sang, a valley in the mountains of Northeast Afghanistan. They are also found in Pakistan, Russia and in the Andes Mountains in Chile, and in smaller quantities in the USA and Canada.
Is Lapis Lazuli a birthstone?
Whilst the most common September birthstone is regarded as being the Sapphire, Lapis Lazuli is often listed alongside this gemstone as a modern alternative birthstone for September. Sapphire, along with Diamond, Rubies and Emeralds, are recognised as the four premier gemstones, and their value for high quality examples can often far exceed the budget of most people. Therefore, most modern lists of birthstones will include an alternative, such as Carnelians for July (whose birthstone is Rubies), or Agate stones instead of Emeralds for May.
Lapis Lazuli meaning and healing properties.
As you would expect from a semi-precious stone that has been traded and admired for millennia, there are several positive attributes that are often referred to as Lapis Lazuli benefits. It is said to encourage self-awareness and inspire confidence and honesty in the wearer. It is also said to create clarity of thought, so necessary in today’s busy world. What we do know for sure however, is that it has inspired and been admired by humans worldwide for thousands of years, and that alone can give one pause to reflect on the choices they make each day.
Georgina: Lapis Lazuli earrings
In a nutshell, Lapis Lazuli stone is one of the most sought after natural gemstones and it has been in use for centuries. Its deep, celestial blue remains the symbol of royalty and honour, gods and power, spirit and vision. It is a universal symbol of wisdom and truth.
Lapis Lazuli jewelry is one of the most beautiful and colourful, and its natural markings make each piece very special and unique. If you are looking for something special, be sure to check out semi-precious stone jewelry containing this fabulous blue gemstone.