Lapis Lazuli is commonly referred to as 'Lapis' which is the Latin name for stone.The deep blue of the sky and sea is reflected in the magnificent Lapis Lazuli stone, a crystal bestowed with the magical powers of healing. No wonder, the Royalty prized the Lapis crystal above everything else and bedecked their person as well as paid homage to the Gods with this unique blue stone that displayed a bit of white with gold streaks made by the pyrites within it. The beautiful stone includes numerous minerals including Sodalite, Lazurite and Calcite apart from pyrites. The lower grade stone, however, contains more white rather than the golden flecks and is known as denim Lapis.
It was discovered by the ancient Egyptians who dressed themselves and their persons with strikingly blue cosmetics made out of the brilliant blue stone. The sarcophagus of King Tut was found to be inlaid with lapis that speaks volumes about the importance of this spectacular blue crystal that has not abated with the passing years. Ancient Persia revered it as did the residents of America in the pre Columbian era. The Islamists of the Orient used it to ward off the evil eye as well. The Greeks and Romans loved to adorn themselves with the Lapiz too and the Europeans processed it into a deep blue pigment known as the Ultramarine dye to be used by the artists of the ancient time. The renaissance period saw Michael Angelo painting with this particular dye and Catherine the Great decorate her rooms completely with the prized and expensive lapis lazuli encrusted artifacts.
However, the stone does not depict the deep blue color of the heavens always. Instead, it has been found in a number of interesting shades of the same color that occurs due to the difference in its mineral composition. The treasured crystal had been originally sourced from the mines of Badakhshan, Afghanistan with the Sar I Sang mines still remaining the best place for mining top quality Lapis Lazuli. Argentina, Canada, China, Russia and Pakistan are also known to produce this stone albeit of an inferior quality.
However, Lapis cannot be graded by means of clarity as it happens to be an opaque crystal. The quantity of lazurite present within the stone is a determining factor of its value therefore. The presence calcite is not favored as it produces white streaks that dull the blue color thereby undermining its value.
The cut of the Lapis is crucial too as it is not an unduly hard stone like the diamond. Measuring 4.5-5.5 on the ‘MOHS scale,’ it is usually sold as beads or cabochons. www.madagascandirect.com has made an effort to produce this unique and classic crystal in India of late for catering to the eager buyers worldwide. The Hearts, Spheres and Eggs of Lapis Lazuli on sale online are top rated in keeping with the other high quality crystals available here.