Lapis Lazuli is one of the most sought after stones in use since man's history began. Its deep, celestial blue remains the symbol of royalty and honor, gods and power, spirit and vision. It is a universal symbol of wisdom and truth.
In ancient times Lapis Lazuli was most highly regarded because of its beautiful color and the valuable ultramarine dye derived from it. Its name comes from the Latin lapis, "stone," and the Persian lazhuward, "blue." It is rock formed by multiple minerals, mostly Lazurite, Sodalite, Calcite and Pyrite, and is a rich medium to royal blue with gold flecks (pyrites). Lower-grade Lapis is lighter blue with more white than gold flecks, and is sometimes called denim Lapis.
Lapis Lazuli was among the most highly prized tribute paid to Egypt, obtained from the oldest mines in the world, worked from around 4000 B.C. and still in use today. Referenced in the Old Testament as sapphire (unknown in that part of the ancient world), Lapis Lazuli is most likely the fifth stone in the original breastplate of the High Priest, as well as those of later times. [Kunz, 293-294]
The golden sarcophagus of King Tutankhamen was richly inlaid with Lapis, as were other burial ornaments of Egyptian kings and queens. It was used extensively in scarabs, pendants and other jewelry, and ground into powder for dyes, eye shadow and medicinal elixirs. [Simmons, 227] In the dry, barren land of the Egyptians, this deep cobalt blue color was a spiritual contrast to their arid desert hues. The gold flecks were like stars in their night-time sky and by meditating on these colors they felt supernatural forces would transform their lives. The garments of priests and royalty were dyed with Lapis to indicate their status as gods themselves. [Raphaell, 141]
In ancient Persia and pre-Columbian America, Lapis Lazuli was a symbol of the starry night, and a favorite stone of the Islamic Orient for protection from the evil eye. [Megemont, 110] Lapis was much used in Greek and Roman times as an ornamental stone, and in medieval Europe, Lapis Lazuli, resembling the blue of the heavens, was believed to counteract the wiles of the spirits of darkness and procure the aid and favor of the spirits of light and wisdom. [Kunz, 370] Ground and processed into powder, it produced the intense, but expensive, ultramarine color favored by the painter, Michelangelo. [Megemont, 111] Buddhists recommended Lapis as a stone to bring inner peace and freedom from negative thought, and during the Renaissance, Catherine the Great adorned an entire room in her palace with Lapis Lazuli walls, fireplaces, doors and mirror frames. [Simmons, 227]
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