Lapis lazuli is a stunningly beautiful gemstone that has captured the hearts of many over the centuries. The deep blue of lapis lazuli has been a popular color in jewelry and decorative arts for thousands of years, but it is also a gemstone with a rich and unique history. From its use in ancient Egypt to modern day jewelry designs, lapis lazuli has been a popular gemstone for jewelry makers and collectors alike. In this article, we will explore the history of lapis lazuli, its properties, and how it is used in modern day jewelry.
Historical Significance of Lapis Lazuli:
Lapis lazuli was first mined in Afghanistan over 6,000 years ago and was considered a precious stone by ancient cultures all over the world. In ancient Egypt, lapis lazuli was valued more highly than gold, and it was used to create ornate jewelry, statues, and even the blue pigment in wall paintings. Lapis lazuli was also prized in Mesopotamia, where it was believed to have healing properties.
The Babylonians regularly used lapis to make amulets, talismans, and seals. In the Middle Ages, lapis lazuli was commonly used to create religious art, and it became an essential part of Christian iconography. The deep blue color was associated with the Virgin Mary, and lapis was also used to create images of angels and other holy figures. In Islamic cultures, lapis lazuli was used to create exquisite calligraphy, miniatures, and other decorative arts.
Properties of Lapis Lazuli:
Lapis lazuli is a stunning gemstone that is typically blue, but can also come in shades of green, purple, or even black. The color of lapis lazuli comes from the mineral lazurite, which is also responsible for its brilliant luster and iridescence. The gemstone is relatively soft, with a Mohs hardness rating of 5-6, which makes it susceptible to scratches and damage. Because of its softness, lapis lazuli is typically cut en cabochon, with a smooth polished surface.
Lapis lazuli is also known for its interesting inclusions, which can include veins of white calcite and flecks of pyrite. These inclusions are highly prized in lapis lazuli, as they add to the beauty and uniqueness of the stone. Pyrite inclusions are known as "golden flecks," and they add a stunning contrast to the deep blue color of the stone.
Using Lapis Lazuli in Modern Day Jewelry:
Today, lapis lazuli remains a popular gemstone for jewelry makers all over the world. Its stunning blue color and unique inclusions make it a popular choice for statement jewelry pieces, including rings, earrings, and pendants. Lapis lazuli is often combined with other gemstones, including diamonds, emeralds, and sapphires, to create stunning jewelry designs. The contrast of the deep blue of lapis with other colors can create a beautiful and striking look. When paired with gold or silver, lapis lazuli jewelry can be both elegant and eye-catching.
One popular way to use lapis lazuli in modern day jewelry is to create beaded necklaces or bracelets. These pieces often feature lapis lazuli beads alongside other gemstones, such as malachite or turquoise, which creates a unique and colorful look. Lapis lazuli is also a popular choice for men's jewelry, particularly when used to create cufflinks or tie bars. The deep blue color of lapis lazuli can add a subtle touch of style to formal wear, and its uniqueness can make for a fun conversation starter at events.
Caring for Lapis Lazuli Jewelry:
Because lapis lazuli is a relatively soft gemstone, it is important to take proper care of any lapis lazuli jewelry you own. Here are a few tips for keeping your lapis lazuli jewelry looking its best:
- Avoid exposure to heat and chemicals, including perfumes and hairsprays
- Store your jewelry separately from other pieces to avoid scratches or damage
- Clean your lapis lazuli jewelry with a soft cloth and mild soap or jewelry cleaner, being careful not to scrub too hard or use abrasive materials
- Keep your jewelry out of direct sunlight to avoid fading of the deep blue color
Lapis lazuli is a gemstone with a rich and interesting history, and its unique properties and stunning color make it a popular choice for jewelry makers and collectors alike. From its use in ancient Egypt to modern day jewelry designs, lapis lazuli has been cherished for its elegance and beauty throughout the ages. Whether you prefer bold statement pieces or subtle accents, lapis lazuli is a gemstone that is sure to turn heads and capture the imagination.