Lapis is the birthstone for December and is 5-5.5 on the hardness scale.
Lapis is the Latin word for stone and the Persian lazhward meaning blue. Lapis Lazuli is a deep blue metamorphose rock used as a semi-precious stone that has been prized since antiquity for its intense color.
Lapis lazuli was among the most highly prized tribute paid to Egypt obtained from the oldest mines in the world worked around 4000 BC and still in use today.
As early as the 7th millennia BC, lapis was mined in Sar-I-Sang mines for over 6000 years and other mines in the northeast of Afghanistan.
At the end of the Middle Ages, lapis was exported to Europe where it was ground into powder and made into ultramarine of all blue pigments. It was used by some of the most important artist of the Renaissance and Baroque era, and was often reserved for the clothing of the central figures of the paintings especially the Virgin Mary. Cleopatra used the powdered lapis as eyeshadow for her face.
Lapis is and was not only used in jewelry making but also in making ornaments, amulets, mosaics, small statues and vases.
Today, mines in Afghanistan and Pakistan are still the major source of lapis.
- Ester Edry