THE PHYSICAL AND OPTICAL PROPERTIES OF LAPIS-LAZULI
Lapis lazuli is the pretty name given to a blue rock mainly composed of lazurite. This rock belongs to the family of Silicates and its formula is: (Na, Ca)8[(AlSiO4)6(SO4, S, Cl)2], that is to say that it is composed of sodium, d aluminum, silicon, oxygen and sulfur. Other minerals present in lapis lazuli are calcite, pyrite and sodalite. The density of lazurite is 2.7-3, its hardness 5-5.5 on the Mohs scale. It has a cubic crystal system. It is an opaque, dark blue to blue-green mineral with a greasy, matte luster. It is rarely found as large dodecahedral crystals, but rather as finely grained aggregates. Under ultraviolet light a fluorescence appears, white to coppery orange.
COLORS OF LAPIS LAZULI
Lapis lazuli is blue to blue-indigo, even purple, passing through blue-green. It is the sulfur that gives it this beautiful azure color, and the different shades then depend on the quantity of other minerals associated with the majority lazurite. Often, the gem is dotted with small spots or white streaks due to the presence of calcite, or golden, if it is rather pyrite.
THE MAIN DEPOSITS OF LAPIS-LAZULI
The main deposit of lapis lazuli is located at an altitude of 2500 meters, in a remote and difficult to access region of Afghanistan, in the province of Badakhshan. It takes four days to reach the Sar-e-Sang mine from Kabul as the journey is rugged. The climatic conditions are also so difficult that the deposit is only exploited four months a year. There are the most beautiful lapis lazuli. Another historic mine is in Chile, in Flor de los Andes, 3500 meters above sea level. It was already known at the time of the Chavin civilization, this pre-Columbian culture born at least a thousand years before our era and which developed in present-day Peru.
Other less productive deposits are found in Angola, Burma, Pakistan, and North America.
ADVICE FROM OUR GEMMOLOGIST: HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR LAPIS-LAZULI WELL
The more intense the color of a lapis lazuli, the greater its value. There must be as few traces of calcite as possible (white spots): specimens from Russia often contain a lot. On the other hand, gems with pyrite encrustations are very popular for the magnificent harmony of blue and gold. However, not too much is needed, at the risk of having a stone of lesser value.
The name of lapis lazuli is composed of the word "lapis", which means stone in Latin, and "lazuli", the origin of which is a Persian word, "lâdjevard", which gave "lazul" in Arabic, obviously an ancestor of word "azure".
In Mesopotamia, there was already an important commercial network around lapis lazuli, which was an important issue during the wars between the Sumerian city-states. The famous city of Our, flourishing in the 4th millennium, produced splendid objects carved in lapis lazuli, such as the statuettes of animals found in the royal cemetery by archaeologists. In the Syrian palace of Ebla, 23 kilos of raw lapis were found!
In Egypt it was a sacred stone that evoked the starry sky. It represented the eyes of the gods, and was used by healing priests to cure certain diseases such as apoplexy. It adorned funerary masks.
An English officer, John Wood, recounts his visit to the mines of Badackchan in 1837. He explains that tamarisk wood was burned in large flames against the limestone walls, before spraying them with cold water: the difference in temperature made burst the rock and allowed the extraction of lapis lazuli.
Lapis lazuli was introduced to Europe in the 5th century AD. It was then called "ultramarinum", because it came from far beyond the seas... This is how the ultramarine blue pigment is called, extracted from lapis lazuli and used in France from the 12th century, notably by the illuminating monks of the abbeys. It was used by Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel.
VIRTUES AND BENEFITS OF LAPIS-LAZULI
In ancient Egypt, people already believed in the healing properties of lapis lazuli. The Romans saw it as a powerful aphrodisiac. Then in the Middle Ages it was used to compose elixirs fortifying the mind and body.
Today in gemmotherapy, lapis lazuli is considered effective against disorders of the immune system and endocrine glands. It is said to cure the thyroid, skin problems like herpes and eczema, allergies, dandruff and sore throats, as well as migraines and earaches. It would have a soothing effect on nervous or depressed people. Lapis lazuli is said to help introverts gain confidence and get out of themselves. It would promote communication and liberate expression. The ideal place to apply the gem for best effectiveness would be just above the diaphragm. The elixir of lapis lazuli would make it possible to better remember one's dreams to understand their meaning.
ASTROLOGICAL CORRESPONDENCES OF LAPIS-LAZULI
The astrological signs associated with lapis lazuli are Sagittarius, Pisces and Aquarius. It corresponds to Wednesday and the planets Mercury and Jupiter. In Chinese astrology, it is the stone of the Ox sign.
Lapis lazuli wedding:
Lapis lazuli is traditionally attached to the fifty-sixth wedding anniversary.
The Science of Lapis Lazuli
This soul-stimulating blue rock mainly composed of pyrite, lazurite and calcite takes its colors from sulfur and comes mostly from Afghanistan's Hindu Kush Mountains and Chile.
Even though it's made up of several components and, therefore, is not considered a mineral, its adoration and respect was never put at stake not even a single bit, for its longevity and tonality are part of a league of its own.
Always present in lapis lazuli are small pyrite crystals that give it a gorgeous brassy yellow tonality. It has an isometric hextetrahedral crystal system and a Mohs hardness of 5.5.
Lapis Lazuli throughout History
Only since the 10 th century has this beautiful rock been documented by a geographer that visited the Sar-e-Sang mines in Afghanistan, where lapis lazuli can only be mined for six months due to the extreme of the place where it's located.
For more than 6000 years lapis lazuli has been mined on one of the most inaccessible and dangerous places on Earth, with an altitude of 6Km and a tortuous journey ahead of anyone willing to travel to its source.
Lapis lazuli played a crucial role in Sumerian's history, being strongly connected with pure wealth and splendor, bringing to humans some of the attributes that belonged only to gods and, therefore, its use was forbidden to the people and exclusive to the royalty.
The ancient Egyptian civilization and several South-American civilizations attributed live-giving and evil-banishing powers to lapis lazuli.
Lapis Lazuli's healing properties
This royal stone is known for bringing its bearer supreme awareness and increasing the strength of one's intuitive powers, as it facilitates spiritual evolution and brings one to its very own path of enlightenment.
Few stones are connected to the cleansing of both the mind and the soul as lapis lazuli. By wearing this blue stone, one's serenity increases to blissful levels and so does one's sense of acceptance and self-confidence.
Those seeking supreme mental clarity and a deeper meditation state can find in lapis lazuli the mind-expanding key to fully open one's reality tunnel and see through one's past lives or perceive reality through another enlightening point of view.
Regarding the physical realm, lapis lazuli has been accounted for successfully treating insomnia and chronic depression.
Lapis Lazuli care
This stone should be properly taken care of, given its relatively soft nature. Lapis lazuli can be cleaned with an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner (for a short period of time), or washed with lukewarm and soapy water.