Sunday, November 9, 2008

Lapis Lazuli

Lapis Lazuli is a semiprecious gemstone prized since antiquity for it's intense blue color.

It gets its brilliant blue color from its sulfur content.

Lapis is a rock, not a mineral, mined in northern Afghanistan where deposits have been worked for more than 6000 years. These mines were the source of Lapis for the Egyptians and Mesopotamians and later for the Greek and Roman civilizations.

Secondary deposits in Siberia, Canada, and Chile supplement that supply.

Lapis was among the first gemstones to be worn as jewelry. In ancient Egypt lapis lazuli was a favorite stone for amulets, scarabs and other ornaments. Lapis jewelry has been found in Egyptian excavations and historical legend says that powdered lapis was used as eyeshadow by Cleopatra. It's opaque deep blue color is highly prized-even more so when it has inclusions of golden pyrites that shimmer like tiny stars.

Lapis with a higher quantity of calcite has a lighter blue color and is marketed as denim lapis.

Lapis is said to harmonize your heart and mind as it forges stronger bonds between them. It is regarded by many people around the world as the stone of friendship and truth. The blue stone encourages harmony in relationships and helps it's wearer to be authentic and to give his or her opinion openly.

Lapis takes an excellent polish and can be made into jewelry, carvings, boxes, mosaics, ornaments and vases. It was also ground and processed to make the pigment ultramarine for tempera paint .

Lapis is an alternate birthstone for September.

Because lapis lazuli is rather porous, it should never come in contact with chemicals and solvents. The best way to clean the stone is with mild, warm, soapy water.

The stone is either cut as beads for necklaces or as cabochons for exclusive jewelry. It is especially attractive when set with diamonds or pearls and makes a nice complement to the dark reds of coral. It is equally attractive when set in gold or sterling silver.

Lapis, having only the hardness of 5 to 5.5 should be protected from rubbing and scratching against harder stones and surfaces, such as other jewelry within a jewelry box.

Lapis lazuli is a versatile and popular gemstone which has shown extraordinary stability in the tides of fashion. No wonder, since it has fascinated both men and women for thousands of years with its fabulous colour and those golden points of light formed by pyrites.

The FamiLee Jewels love to use lapis in our designs.

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