There are many sources of information for minerals and gemstones and most of it is available on the internet, including the ubiquitous Wikipedia. Our technical descriptions of gemstones are drawn primarily from the Rock and Gem Guide of the Smithsonian Institute and from The Fifth Edition of Gemstones of the World, by Walter Schuman.
Lapis Lazuli, known as the “sky stone”, is a relatively rare gemstone that has been prized since ancient times for its intense blue color. It is largely formed from the mineral lazurite, but also contains calcite (white), sodalite (blue), and pyrite (metallic yellow). It usually forms in crystalline marble as a result of contact metamorphism.
The best Lapis Lazuli is found in the limestone deposits of the Kokcha River valley of Badakhshan province in northeastern Afghanistan. Some of these mines have been worked for more than 6,000 years, the source of Lapis Lazuli for the ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations, as well as the later Greeks and Romans. Lapis Lazuli is also mined in the Andes Mountains of Chile and in the Lake Baikal region of Russia. Small deposits are found in Siberia, Angola, Argentina, Burma, Pakistan, Canada, India, and in the USA in California and Colorado.
Uncut, Lapis Lazuli is matt and dark blue in colour, often with golden (pyrite) inclusions and whitish marble veins. The stone’s blue colour comes from the sulphur content of the lazurite and may range from pure ultramarine to a lighter blue.
The quality of Lapis Lazuli varies widely with the best raw stones still coming from the steep Hindu Kush in the north-east of Afghanistan. The lumps of blue rock, extracted from the inhospitable mountains by blasting, are brought down into the valley in the summer months by mules.
Our Lapis Lazuli comes only from Afghanistan.
And, the thing about Lapis Lazuli is, well, you know…