Lapis Lazuli : What is it?
Lapis lazuli is an opaque rock made up of various minerals and characterized by a deep blue color. It naturally occurs in crystalline limestone as a result of contact metamorphism. It is widely used as in jewelry, mosaics, carvings, sculptures, boxes, vases, and ornaments. It is also used in architecture for cladding the columns and walls of palaces and churches. Lapis lazuli was used to make the pigment Ultramarine for tempera and oil paint through grinding and other similar processes. Its use as oil paint ended in the early 19th century, however, when a chemical-synthetic variety became available.
Kinds of Lapis Lazulis include the following:
|Natural lapis lazuli|
- Natural lapis lazuli is mostly mined in Afghanistan and in the Andes near Chile and Ovalle. It can also be found in Siberia, Lake Baikal in Russia, Burma, Angola, California and Colorado in the USA, Pakistan, and Canada.
- Its main component is lazurite (about 25% to 40%), a feldspathoid silicate mineral composed of aluminum, sodium, oxygen, silicon, chlorine, and sulfur.
- It also contains sodalite (blue), calcite (white), and pyrite (yellow).
- It has a chemical formula of (Na,Ca)8(AlSiO4)6(S,SO4,Cl)1-2.
Enhanced lapis lazuli
- Enhanced lapis lazuli is dyed or stained to improve its blue color.
- It can also be enhanced through waxing and resin impregnations.
- Its color fades in time.
Synthetic lapis lazuli
- Synthetic lapis lazuli imitates the structure and properties of the natural but lack in calcite.
- Sintered synthetic blue spinel and Gilson are examples of synthetic lapis lazuli.
- Glass and plastic are used to imitate lapis lazuli.
|Color: To get the finest lapis lazuli color, choose a lapis lazuli stone with an intense blue color lightly dusted with small flecks of golden pyrite. |
Clarity: To get superior clarity, choose a lapis lazuli stone with no white calcite veins and only small pyrite inclusions.
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