This is one of my favourite minerals and is the stone we chose for my engagement ring, alongside diamond, so therefore very special to me. It is such a beautiful blue which is why it was used by artists before oil based paints.

References to Lapis Lazuli in literature occur as long ago as 2,000BC. The oldest mines, though, are in the Badakhshan in Afghanistan where it has been mined for over 6,000 years.


Charlotte's Lapis Lazuli Ornament

Lapis has also been found in the Andes near Chile, where it was rather paler in colour than other sources. There are other less important sources including Siberia, Angola, Burma, Pakistan, USA (specifically California and Colorado), Canada and India.

I have a lovely large polished piece in my collection.

The quality and value of particular specimen is determined by the abundance of the blue mineral Lazurite. The stone contains a number of other minerals with the traces of Pyrite giving it its unmistakeable golden yellow seams.


Funeral Mask of Tutankhamun

Before the development of Prussian Blue Lazurite was ground down to produce Ultramarine for tempera paint.


In ancient Egypt it was used by the Pharoahs and fabulous examples of this were found in the tomb of Tutankhamun, not least on his death mask.

Dragon bowl by Gasparo Miseroni (ca 1518-1573) Milan ca 1570 Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna


In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries Italian craftsmen, mostly from Milan, specialised in objects made of Lapis then adorned with gold.


The Original Grünes Gewölbe Dresden

I was lucky enough to see some fabulous examples of sixteenth century lapis ornaments in Dresden earlier this year. The castle holds the famous Grünes Gewölbe (green vault) housing the treasures of the Electors of Saxony  which has been completely rebuilt having been destroyed in the war.


Most recently Lapis was in the news only a few weeks ago when the Queen visited the Vatican and His Holiness Pope Francis gave a gift of a Lapis Lazuli orb surmounted by a silver cross as a gift for Prince George.