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The Many Uses of Lapis Lazuli

The Many Uses of Lapis Lazuli

The Many Uses of Lapis Lazuli


Beth Pernerewski

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Lapis lazuli is a blue metamorphic rock. It has been used as a gemstone and as sculpting and ornamental material for thousands of years. Unlike others gems, lapis is not a mineral. It is a rock composed of multiple minerals. The blue color is mainly derived from a blue silicate mineral. It was mined from northeastern Afghanistan as early as 7000 BC.

Today lapis is most widely known as a gemstone in jewelry and other ornamental pieces. But powdered lapis has been used throughout history as a cosmetic and pigment. Lapis-derived pigment is known as ultramarine blue. Cleopatra used the crushed powder of lapis in her cosmetics to create the signature eye makeup design that symbolizes an Egyptian pharaoh. Certain master painters used ultramarine blue to produce paintings with optimal colors. Vincent Van Gogh used ultramarine in The Starry Night in 1889 and Johannes Vermeer used it in Girl with a Pearl Earring in 1665.

If you are celebrating your ninth anniversary (or just love lapis!), consider a lapis necklace or pair of earrings. Lapis symbolizes wisdom, truth, and friendship, making it a great gift for a friend (or yourself!), especially for people who love the color blue.

Van Gogh  Girl with pearl earring