Lapis Lazuli gemstones - The most intense and costly blue paint ever
If you have watched the Arabian Nights, then you will have seen a wide display of amazing gemstones, but those which are blue and have golden speckles in them, making them shine brilliantly, can be likened to Lapis Lazuli. This is a blue gemstone, which has inclusions of pyrites which show as golden specks within the stone.
This is a deeply blue gemstone which has an illustrious past, being one of the first gemstones to be worn as jewelry. This is a fact that has been unearthed by archeologists, especially in the regions around the Mediterranean Sea. Excavations have shown that the stone is found in furnishings, jewelry chains, and figurines, in graves that go back centuries in age. The archeologists have shown that the people of Rome, Persia, Egypt, Greece and Mesopotamia, used this gemstone in their jewelry and artistic decorations thousands of years ago. The legendary city of Ur, which was found on the banks of the Euphrates, was said to have traded in Lapis Lazuli, from as long ago as the fourth millennium B.C. The stones used to come to the city between the two great rivers from the famed Afghanistan deposits.
In the Middle East, there were cultures that referred to Lapis Lazuli as a holy stone. They said that the stone had magical powers and this is the reason why there were countless figurines, scarabs and signet rings which were made using this stone; they were all brought back to Europe by Alexander the Great. In Europe, the color of the stone was described as being ultramarine, because the intensity and depth of the color was seen as being beyond that of the sea.
The most intense and costly blue paint ever
Lapis Lazuli is a name that was derived from the Latin words for stone, “Lapis”, and Blue, “Azula”; Azula is a name that was derived from an Arabic name meaning Blue. One may wonder why this blue stone was so popular; the reason is simple; the blue color is incredible. This is a stone that carried great value in the world of art, and the renowned stone artists always insisted on genuine Lapis Lazuli, when they were working on the masterpieces; the ultramarine color had a magical appeal even to these masters of art. The artists would grind the Lapis Lazuli into a fine power, and then they would use this with water, tempera or oil, to make the most wonderful paints ever; the art that was painted using this stone had golden sparkles coming from the inclusions found within it. Lapis Lazuli is said to have been formed millions of years ago, when limestone metamorphosed into marble.
In 1834, industries starting synthetically creating ultramarine blue, but before that the only way that you could get the paint was by using genuine Lapis Lazuli, and this is how you tell works of art that were created using this paint before the year 1834. For example, many pictures showing the Madonna, were created using genuine Lapis Lazuli. In that time, ultramarine blue was a pigment that many people loved, and the golden radiance it produced used to outshine any other works of art; due to this popularity, one can only infer that the pigment was very expensive. One thing to note is that unlike other blue pigments, which tended to fade when exposed to light and the elements, genuine Lapis Lazuli pigments still maintain the original hue, and this makes the works of art, created with this pigment, to be treasured. A great example of the works created using this striking pigment is the Titian painting of the “Greek Myth of Cacchus and Ariadne”; the blue robe of Ariadne, is truly vivid and striking that it simply draws the eyes of the beholder. Any art that was commissioned by private families was used to recognize the affluence of the family; portraits of the whole family were commissioned by the high and mighty, and the pigment was used to paint any blue part. Today, you can get the expensive pigment if you are a collector of historical paints, but it is mainly used to restore works from that period. Michelangelo is another painter who used a lot of Lapis Lazuli pigments in his works. This is one of the reasons why his works have such a high value in the world of art.
The stone that spoke of commitment and truth
Many people all over the world believe in the myth that Lapis Lazuli is a stone that fostered great friendships, and also encouraged people to be truthful. The stone is said to have encouraged people to give their opinions in an uninhibited manner, and it also brought harmony into many relationships, whether platonic or romantic.
Lapis Lazuli, which mainly consists if Lazurite and Diopside, is an opaque rock, which came into being when lime metamorphosed into marble, millions of years ago. When it has not been cut, this gemstone has a matt sheen, and has a very deep and dark blue color; it was common to find the stone having inclusions of whitish veins, and golden speckles. Although the inclusions, which make the stone look like a starry blue sky, may look like gold, they are not made of gold as many people think. Actually, these inclusions are cause by pyrites; the golden shimmer is from the presence of iron. The blue color of the stone is caused by the high sulfur content in the Lazurites, and the hues range from a deep dark color, to a very light blue. This is a stone of medium hardness since it has a value of 5 to 6 on the Mohs scale.
Telling the quality of Lapis Lazuli from the way it smells
As soon as Lapis Lazuli comes into contact with a cutters disc, there is a typical smell that emanated from it and an experienced cutter can tell the quality of the stone from this. It is said that the cutter turns up his nose, but because of a bad smell emanating from the stone, but to actually test and analyze it, so he can know the quality of the stone. In fact, some of the experienced cutters will be able to tell how the stone will smell, just by looking at the color, before the cutting process begins.
This is a stone that must be polished with a lot of care and should not be pressed into the leather belt with too much pressure; this is because the stone is not too hard. As for the person who will buy and wear the jewelry, there is no cause for concern. The stone is usually protected using a colorless wax or synthetic resin. Any stone that may develop a matt look due to being worn frequently can be re-polished at any time. When a stone is being sealed with the protective layer, it must not be mixed with any pigments, or contain any impurities; this makes the stone look much better when it is worn. It is important that you do not expose Lapis Lazuli to any acidic substance, and that you do not keep it in the sun too much.
Which are the most precious Lapis Lazuli gemstones?
The best Lapis Lazuli stones, formed more than 5000 years ago, were said to come from the Hindu Kush area of Afghanistan, to the North East, and this still remains true to this day. The mountains are rough and inhospitable, so the stones are mined by blasting the mountains. Since no transportation can navigate this ruthless terrain, the blue rock is brought down the mountain using mules, during the summer months, when the weather is better. In Russia, West of Lake Baikal, and in the Chilean Andes, nature has also deposited rich Lapis Lazuli stones, which have a characteristic white or grey lime running through them. Lapis Lazuli is also found, though in smaller amounts, in Canada, United States, Italy and Mongolia; there are also some deposits in Pakistan and Myanmar. However, it is very rare to find stones which are purely blue, from any of these deposits. The wide variation in the quality of Lapis Lazuli is the reason why the prices of the stones also vary widely; they range from the low-priced to the luxurious versions.
When it comes to the price of Lapis Lazuli, the characteristics that are most valued are the intensity and beauty of the color. Experts in the fashion industry advice that women who have a pale complexion should wear stones that have a lighter blue color, although those with a deep and intense blue hue are the most popular. The value of the gemstone is increased by the finely dispersed pyrite crystals; if the stone has a rough restless and blotchy grain, then the value will decrease.
A little more about Lapis Lazuli
Lapis Lazuli has shown a great deal of stability in the ever-changing world of fashion, and this is why it is so popular and versatile. It is its intense color and the golden flecks of light brought about by the presence of the pyrites that has made the stone to be fascinating to both men and women for thousands of years.
This is a gemstone that has been the hallmark of jewelry for many centuries, because it is beautifully opaque, and it is considered to be a holy stone; it is a stone that fosters friendship and encourages the telling of truth.
In ancient Roman times, the civilizations believed that wearing the stone would prevent epilepsy and miscarriages; it was also said to have powerful aphrodisiac properties, probably brought about by the intense beauty of the stone. It used to be known by the name Sapphirus, but it was later defined as being a Corundum.
That said, this is a stone that has a long history as a precious gemstone, and has been used for both jewelry and as a pigment for painting lasting and incredibly valuable works of art. When it came to sculpture, any figurines that were created with this stone maintained the beauty of the stone for centuries and they are prized possessions amongst collectors. You should look for jewelry made of Lapis Lazuli if you love blue stones, since you will have one of the deepest blue stones ever, adorning your ears, neck or hands.