Rocks and Minerals Information Sheet R001
References to Lapis Lazuli in literature occur as long ago as 2,000BC. The oldest mines, though, are in the Badakhshan in Afghanistan where deposits have been mined for some 6,000 years.
In ancient Egypt it was used by the Pharoahs and fabulous examples were found in the tomb of Tutankhaman.
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.
Before the development of Prussian Blue Lazurite was ground down to produce Ultramarine for tempera paint
Lapis has also been found in the Andes near Chile, where it was rather pale and other less important sources include areas in Siberia, Angola, Burma, Pakistan, USA (California and Colorado), Canada and India.