Lapis lazuli a dark mid- night blue, spangled with golden flecks (Pyrite)—has inspired awe and admiration for millennia. Lapis lazuli is among the best-known opaque gems. It’s a prime examples of opaque colored stone that is marketed both as gems for jewelry and as ornamental materials. Throughout its history, lapis has been fashioned into practical objects, including game boards, bowls, and amulets. Today, lapis is frequently fashioned into freeform and nature-themed sculptures. Some of these carvings become wearable art, others are purely decorative. Its midnight blue hue suggests deep tranquility, yet its heritage is filled with strife, danger, and hardship. For centuries, miners have extracted fine lapis lazuli from harsh terrain. Lapis Lazuli is the traditional birthstone for December and the accepted gem for the seventh and ninth wedding anniversary. It is the planetary stone for Capricorn and the Zodiac stone for Libra.
Historians believe that the link between man and lapis lazuli stretches back more than 6,500 years. This beautiful stone was treasured by the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, Greece, and Rome. They valued it for its vivid, exquisite color, and prized it as much as they prized other blue gems like sapphire and turquoise. Badakhshan, a province in present-day Afghanistan, is a forbidding wasteland of mountains, bare of any vegetation. The sheer mountain faces rise as high as 17,000 feet (5 km), and are scored with treacherous ravines. Humans make their way there to seek one thing only: the azure treasures that is fine lapis lazuli. This area is, in fact, the world’s oldest known commercial gemstone’s sources. Marco Polo referred to the area’s lapis mines in 1271, but few outsiders have seen them because of their inhospitable location. Lapis lazuli is valued for its rich blue color and history and merchant caravans transported this precious blue cargo across Bactria, on their way to the great cities of the ancient Greek, India, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Persia. Worldwide, lapis is mined in several areas. The traditional source of the finest lapis lazuli is the same today as it was thousands of years ago—the mountains of Afghanistan. The ancient mines of Bactria—now Afghanistan—are still producing lapis today. Afghanistan is the world’s major source of lapis lazuli as well as the major source of the gem’s best color.
Lapis value is based on color and the presence or absence of calcite or pyrite. In its most-prized form, it is an intense, uniform, medium-dark, slightly violetish blue with no visible calcite and pyrite flecks. If the flecks are small and sprinkled attractively throughout the gem, their presence doesn’t necessarily lower lapis lazuli’s value. This quality is known in the trade as Afghan.
Lapis treatments are common, but treated lapis is not very stable, and it’s always less valuable than natural lapis. Dyeing is one of the most common lapis treatments. It improves color and conceals calcite inclusions. The dye might be applied to the whole gem or only to parts of it. Natural greenish lapis can be heated slightly and then dyed to improve its color. Lapis that hasn’t been dyed might be impregnated with wax or with oil to improve color and luster.
We only offer Lapis Lazuli in its untreated form to our respected customers. A beautiful lapis gemstone or a piece of jewelry by Himalayan Gems and Jewelry has traveled a long and difficult route to get to you and when you buy from us, you are self assured you get the quality lapis lazuli from historical mines of bacteria (Afghanistan).