At its best, this opaque stone is a glorious deep blue flecked with gold flakes of iron pyrites. The name comes from the Latin lapis for stone and lazulum from the Persian word meaning azure. Lapis, as it is usually called, is thought to be the stone referred to as a sapphire in the Old Testament. There it is described as being ‘sapphire sprinkled with gold dust’, an apt description of lapis lazuli. The ancients believed that blue stones, being similar in colour to the heavens, attracted insight and understanding. For this reason, Egyptian judges wore pieces of lapis carved into a likeness of the goddess Ma, who represented truth.
According to a prescription written in 1600 BC, lapis lazuli was one of the ingredients in a remedy for cataracts. From The Healing Power Of Crystals By Cass & Janie Jackson The color of lapis lazuli varies from greenish-blue to a rich purple-blue. Dark intense blue is the most prized color. The rock was powdered for the pigment ultramarine.
The name lapis lazuli is derived from the Persian word lazhward, meaning blue.
Under long wave ultraviolet light orange spots or streaks can be seen. These are more pronounced in material from Chile than that from Afghanistan. Lapis Lazuli shows a bright whitish glow under longwave ultraviolet light and dull orange spots or streaks under shortwave ultraviolet light and X-rays.
Lapis lazuli has been mined in Afghanistan for over 6,000 years. The mines were described by Marco Polo in 1271. Light blue boulders of lapis lazuli are found in rivers on the southern end of Lake Baikal, Russia.