Trends. Luxury on the Rocks: In Love with Lapis Jewelry. Second City Style Fashion Blog

Fountain of 30

May 31, 2007 • Magazine


Gurhan palladium and square lapis ring, $720 from Neiman Marcus


Stephen Dweck Lapis ring $375 from Neiman Marcus


Stephen Dweck Engraved Earrings $330 from Saks


Lapis and Aquamarine Necklace by Iradj Moini $1785 from Vivre


Jeweled Cuff by Andrew Gn $990 from Vivre


Hammered Gold Cuff with Large Lapis Stone $1775 from Vivre

Sure you could wear diamonds and pearls but that’s the easy way to go. For style and substance for the more the more adventurous woman try lapis lazuli. The indigo adds exotic charm to an enchanting evening.

What’s so precious about this precious stone? sheds a little light on why lapis is so lovely…see below for the full story.. Joanne Molina for Second City Style


Lapis lazuli

lazuli is a gemstone of the kind that might have come straight out of
the Arabian Nights: a deep blue with golden inclusions of pyrites which
shimmer like little stars.

This opaque, deep blue gemstone has a grand past. It was among the
first gemstones to be worn as jewellery and worked on. At excavations
in the ancient centres of culture around the Mediterranean,
archaeologists have again and again found among the grave furnishings
decorative chains and figures made of lapis lazuli – clear indications
that the deep blue stone was already popular thousands of years ago
among the people of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Persia, Greece and Rome. It is
said that the legendary city of Ur on the Euphrates plied a keen lapis
lazuli trade as long ago as the fourth millennium B.C., the material
coming to the land of the two great rivers from the famous deposits in
Afghanistan. In other cultures, lapis lazuli was regarded as a holy
stone. Particularly in the Middle East, it was thought to have magical
powers. Countless signet rings, scarabs and figures were wrought from
the blue stone which Alexander the Great brought to Europe. There, the
colour was referred to as ‘ultramarine’, which means something like
‘from beyond the sea’.

                            The most expensive blue of all time
euphonious name is composed from ‘lapis’, the Latin word for stone, and
‘azula’, which comes from the Arabic and means blue. All right, so it’s
a blue gemstone – but what an incredible blue! The worth of this stone
to the world of art is immeasurable, for the ultramarine of the Old
Masters is nothing other than genuine lapis lazuli. Ground up into a
powder and stirred up together with binding-agents, the marble-like
gemstone can be used to manufacture radiant blue watercolours, tempera
or oil-paints. Before the year 1834, when it became possible to produce
this colour synthetically, the only ultramarine available was that
valuable substance made from genuine lapis lazuli that shines out at us
from many works of art today. Many pictures of the Madonna, for
example, were created using this paint. But in those days, ultramarine
blue was not only precious and so intense that its radiance outshone
all other colours; it was also very expensive. But unlike all other
blue pigments, which tend to pale in the light, it has lost none of its
radiance to this very day. Nowadays, the blue pigment obtained from
lapis lazuli is mainly used in restoration work and by collectors of
historical paints.
The stone of friendship and truth

Lapis lazuli is regarded by many people around the world as the stone
of friendship and truth. The blue stone is said to encourage harmony in
relationships and help its wearer to be authentic and give his or her
opinion openly.

Lapis lazuli is an opaque rock that mainly consists of diopside and
lazurite. It came into being millions of years ago during the
metamorphosis of lime to marble. Uncut, lapis lazuli is matt and of a
deep, dark blue colour, often with golden inclusions and whitish marble
veins. The small inclusions with their golden shimmer, which give the
stone the magic of a starry sky, are not of gold as people used to
think, but of pyrites. Their cause is iron. The blue colour comes from
the sulphur content of the lazurite and may range from pure ultramarine
to a lighter blue. At between 5 and 6 on the Mohs scale, this stone is
among the less hard gemstones.

                        When the cutter turns up his nose …
Many a cutter ‘turns up his nose’ when cutting lapis lazuli, for as
soon as the stone comes into contact with the cutting-disc it gives off
a typical smell. An experienced cutter can even tell from the odour how
intense the colour is. When polishing this stone, he must handle it
gently on account of its modest hardness and not subject it to much
pressure. But there is no need for the wearer to worry: a lapis lazuli
that has grown matt from having been worn too much can easily be
repolished at any time. Lapis lazuli is often sealed with colourless
wax or synthetic resin. As long as these substances are not mixed with
any colouring agent, this sealing process simply has the effect of
improving the stone’s wearing qualities. Having said that, the stone
should always be protected from acidic substances, and it should not be
exposed to too much sunlight.

As they did more than 5000 years ago, the best raw stones still come
from the steep Hindu Kush in the north-east of Afghanistan. The lumps
of blue rock, extracted from the inhospitable mountains by blasting,
are brought down into the valley in the summer months by mules. Nature
also created deposits in Russia, to the west of Lake Baikal, and in the
Chilean Andes, where the blue rock often has white or grey lime running
through it. In smaller amounts, lapis lazuli is also found in Italy,
Mongolia, the USA and Canada, Myanmar and Pakistan, but in really good
qualities it is rare all over. That is why the prices of jewellery with
lapis lazuli vary very widely, from luxurious to quite inexpensive. The
prices of this gemstone are largely dependent on the beauty and
intensity of the colour. The most popular is an intense, deep blue.
Women with a pale complexion, however, often prefer the lighter shades
of blue. Finely distributed crystals of pyrites which shimmer in gold
and look like sequins will increase the value of the gemstone, whilst a
restless, rough or blotchy grain will reduce it.

Lapis lazuli is a versatile and popular gemstone which has shown
extraordinary stability in the turbulent tides of fashion. No wonder,
since it has fascinated both men and women for thousands of years with
its fabulous colour and those golden points of light formed by pyrites.

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