Lapis Lazuli Gemstone
Few gemstones equal the extensive and passionate history of lapis lazuli. Although found in many locations throughout the world, the Badakhshan province of northern Afghanistan offers the finest quality. Lapis lazuli is an ancient gem, mined as far back as Neolithic times. Ancient civilizations treasured this stone. It is found in artifacts of Egyptian, Grecian, Roman, and Chinese origin. These could be decorative objects, such as amulets or other jewelry. But, just as often, practical items were carved from this stone including cups, bowls, and combs.
This gemstone is comprised of three main ingredients. Lazurite is responsible for the intense medium to dark blue color that makes the stone so loved. Pyrite provides the enchanting gold flecks. Calcite is responsible for the white webbing or streaks occurring as a matrix in some specimens.
As an opaque stone, lapis lazuli is most often fashioned into cabochons or beads. Frequently, this gem is also sculpted into decorative objects such as statues. The rough of this stone has a larger yield than many other gemstones. Due to this, it's very common to see larger stones set into jewelry or fashioned as beads.
• The lapis lazuli mines of Afghanistan are the oldest known commercial mines in existence. Their production goes back to at least 700 BC.
• The blue of lapis lazuli from Afghanistan is so revered and well known that it's called Afghan in the gem trade. Any specimen that matches this iconic color may be referred to as such, even if it doesn't originate from Afghanistan.
• For centuries, this material was ground to dust and used to produce the pigment known as ultramarine.
One of the finest sources for lapis lazuli is the Sar-e-Sang deposit in Afghanistan's remote Badakhshan district. This mine is one of the oldest in the world and has been producing continuously for more than 7,000 years. While other deposits of lapis are known, none outshine the quality of stone from the Afghan mine.
This remarkable gemstone can also be found in Chile, where the material is frequently heavily mottled with calcite. Small amounts are also mined in Colorado, near Lake Baikal in Siberia, and in Myanmar's Mogok Stone Tract. Gemstones from the Sar-e-Sang deposits are considered rare and valuable.
• Ranks 5 to 6 on the Mohs hardness scale.
• Color displays an intense dark sapphire blue, lightly dusted with flecks of golden pyrite.
• Sourced from the Sar-e-Sang mine in Afghanistan.
Few gemstones equal the extensive and passionate history of lapis lazuli. Archaeological evidence shows that this ancient gem has been mined as far back as Neolithic times having been found in the artifacts of Egyptians, Grecian, Roman and Chinese origin. For centuries, this material was ground to dust and used to produce the pigment known as ultramarine. Although found in many locations, it is in the Badakhshan province of the northern Afghanistan that offers the finest quality. The lapis lazuli mines of Afghanistan are the oldest known commercial mines in existence with their production going back to at least 700 BC. This is gemmologist Becky Booker with your Gem Minute.