and by definition is a rock primarily composed of lazurite (25% to 40%), calcite and pyrite. The link between humans and lapis lazuli stretches back more than 6,500 years. The gem was treasured by the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, Greece, and Rome. They valued it for its vivid, exquisite colour, and prized it as much as they prized other blue gems like sapphire and turquoise
Badakshan, a province in present-day Afghanistan, is a forbidding wasteland of mountains, bare of any vegetation. The sheer mountain faces rise as high as 17,000 feet, and are scored with treacherous ravines. Humans make their way there to seek one thing only: the azure treasure that is fine lapis lazuli.
The same was true as far back as 700 BC, when the region was part of a country known as Bactria. The lapis mines that were producing then are still producing today. They are, in fact, the world’s oldest known commercial gemstone sources.
Merchant caravans transported their precious blue cargo across Bactria, on their way to the great cities of the ancient Greeks, Indians, Egyptians, Mesopotamians, and Persians. Marco Polo referred to the area’s lapis mines in 1271, but few outsiders have seen them because of their inhospitable location
Other commercial deposits have been also found in Angola, Argentina, Canada, Chile (North of Santiago), India, Italy, Myanmar (Burma), Pakistan, Russia and the United States (California and Colorado).
For thousands of years, lapis has been fashioned to show off its rich, dark colour. Typically, lapis used in jewellery has been cut into cabochons, beads, inlays, and tablets
The golden sarcophagus of King Tutankhamen was richly inlaid with Lapis, as were other burial ornaments of Egyptian kings and queens.