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Sacred Charms Jewelry Blog

Monday, June 23, 2008

Lapis Lazuli

We use so many different gemstones it is hard to pick ones to write about. While we eventually hope to have a blog on every gemstone we use for now we are concentrating on the ones that have a long history and cultural significance, mostly because they are just more interesting to research and write about, and will eventually be linked together with all of our jewelry to help you the customer make a better decision about what jewelry is right for them or their loved ones.

Lapis Lazuli is usually just abbreviated to be called Lapis. Lapis is unique as a gemstone as it is technically a rock and not a mineral as many other gemstones are. Don't be fooled though just because it is considered a rock, it has a long history dating back to Predynastic Egyptian sites where it has been found to adorn the graves of high officials and commoners alike. It has also been recorded that Cleopatra herself used a powdered version as eye shadow as it is incredibly brilliant. It is on the record as being mined in Afghanistan for over 6,500 years and still comes from this area today. Lapis is made up of calcite (white), sodalite (blue), and pyrite (gold). The most valued Lapis is that that doesn't have any white or calcite in it just solid blue with flakes or viens of pyrite.

Up until the early 1900's Lapis was used in the making of Ultramarine blue as a paint pigment, one of the most sought after paints by the old masters as it was the most brilliant of any blue ever created. A synthetic material has since been discovered and is now used for the pigment of ultramarine blue. The ancient Romans believe that it was a powerful aphrodisiac and also had many healing properties, it was often ground down to a powder and used to treat skin irritations and mixed with milk to help with ulcers. Written about in the Egyptian book of the dead, lapis set in gold in the shape of an eye was considered to bring great power, and was often pictured on the heads of supreme beings for this reason.

We make use of lapis in several of our pieces and love its brilliant color. Here are a two of our favorites:
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