Lapis Lazuli is technically a rock, as it is composed of different minerals - blue Lazulite (very rare) or Hauyne, as is most often the case, white Calcite and golden Pyrite. The less white Calcite and golden Pyrite in the stone, the more desirable it is, and it must contain at least 25% blue material in order to be called Lapis Lazuli. The name is derived from the Latin for stone: lapis and the Persian for heaven: l'azulus.
It has been prized as a gemstone for over 6,000 years among many different civilisations. The ancient Egyptians used it to create amulets of the goddess of truth, Maat, which were worn by their judges. Their famous Queen Cleopatra was believed to have used it crushed as eyeshadow. The burial mask of the child king Tutankhamen even utilised Lapis Lazuli for his eyelids and eyebrows, and the eyes were made of Black Obsidian (the blue stripes are not Lapis however, they are coloured glass)
The blue gem has been popular with many ancient civilisations, and holds connections with many Gods and Goddeses. The Sumerian Goddess of Love, Inanna was portrayed as carrying a Lapis rod and wearing Lapis jewellery as she entered the underworld. The Royal Sumarian tombs in modern day South Iraq were found to contain over 6,000 carved Lapis artifacts. In Greek mythology, the Goddess Athena's throne was crowned with Lapis Lazuli, the Egyptian Goddess Hathor was known as the "Lady of Lapis Lazuli" whilst the Sun God Ra was said to have hair of the deep blue gem.
Lapis Lazuli was often confused with Sapphire in these ancient civilisations, for instance Roman philosopher and author Pliny describes sapphires as being sprinkled with specks of gold - a very accurate description of Lapis. A similar description also appears in the Hebrew Bible, roughly translated as "Its rocks are a source of sapphire, containing flecks of gold". This mistranslation would mean that the Tablets of Law, given to Moses, were actually the words of God written directly onto Lapis Lazuli.
Buddhism also has a close relationship with Lapis Lazuli, and the "Blue Buddha", or the Buddha of Medicine and Healing, is renowned to be sky blue, the colour of this crystal - he is even referred to as having a 'holy body of lapis lazuli'.
The bright blue of crushed Lapis Lazuli has been used for hundreds of years as a pigment of the deepest blue known as Ultramarine. One of the most striking examples has to be the deep blue sky of the Last Judgement fresco in the Sistine Chapel that Michelangelo painted. Although often reserved for religious paintings of the Virgin Mary, angels and the cloak of Christ, it was also popular with Renaissance painters. For example, Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring has the striking blue colour on her turban, and later on Van Gogh's Starry Night, completed shortly before his death, is full of the bright, rich pigment and is considered by many to be one of his greatest works. Another famous example is Titian's Baccus and Ariadne, depicting the God of Wine falling in love with a Creten Princess, who he then immortalises as a constellation.
The most famous and longstanding source of Lapis Lazuli for over 6000 years has been the province of Badakhshan in Afghanistan, where the mines are closely guarded and extremely hard to access. However there are also deposits to be found most notably in Chile and Russia, although of less desirable quality, and around the world in much smaller quantities.
This beautiful blue gemstone is known as a crystal of wisdom. It promotes kindness and love, providing protection from negative energy. It helps us to develop our natural gifts and skillsets, improving creative expression whilst boosting mental endurance. The deep blue colour links to the Third Eye Chakra and can aid in developing psychic abilities.
Lapis Lazuli Metaphysical Properties include:
- Promoting wisdom and mental endurance
- Kindness and love, helping relationships
- Protection from negative energy.
- Boosting peace and harmony, helps disorganisation
- Improving creative expression
- Promotes natural gifts and skills
- Helps depression
- Helps develop psychic abilities
Find our Lapis Lazuli collection here.