|Polished Lapis Lazuli Block|
|King Tut's Mask|
At the end of the Middle Ages, Lapis was exported to Europe where it was ground and used as "ultramarine" -- the finest and most expensive blue pigment. It was used by the most important artists of the Baroque and Renaissance periods. Vermeer's Girl With a Pearl Earring uses Ultramarine for her head scarf.
|Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring|
The name "Lapis" comes from the Latin word for stone, and from the Arabic word for blue, "Azul". It literally means "blue rock" and it is a rock, not a mineral. It is composed of a variable mixture of the minerals lazurite, pyrite and calcite. The finest Lapis Lazuli is uniformly deep blue in color, opaque to semi-translucent and consists almost totally of lazurite.
I see pendants made of Lapis that have been carved into "points" or even "double terminated" points, like naturally occurring crystals, on etsy and elsewhere. This is weird because Lapis is NOT a crystal at all, and is merely made of stone (rock!) and is carved in this shape for some reason. Very odd.