I am so fond of the gorgeous gemstone Lapis Lazuli. More and more rare and hard to find, this is a semi-precious stone that has been prized since antiquity for its intense blue color.
In ancient Egypt, Lapis was a favorite stone for amulets and ornaments such as scarabs; it was also used in ancient Mesopotamia by the Sumerians, Akkadians, Assyrians, and Babylonians for seals and jewelry. Lapis jewelry has been found at excavations of the ancient Egyptian site Naqada (3300–3100 BC), and powdered Lapis was used as eyeshadow by Cleopatra. In ancient Mesopotamia, lapis artifacts can be found in great abundance, with many examples having been excavated at the Royal Cemetary of Ur. It was also in the Taj Mahal in India. Today, much of the most beautiful Lapis comes from Afghanistan.
In addition to the Afghan deposits, lapis has been extracted for many years in the Andes, and in Russia, Siberia, Angola, Argentina, Burma, Pakistan, Canada, India, and in the USA, in California and Colorado.
Lapis takes an excellent polish and can be made into jewelry, carvings, boxes, mosaics, ornaments, and vases. It has also been ground and processed to make the pigment ultramarine for tempera paint, and more rarely, oil paint.
Spiritual aspects have often been attributed to Lapis; since it was used to entomb and decorate the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt, it is still thought to carry the vibration of one's inner King or Queen. It is also thought to activate the psychic centers at the third eye, facilitating enhanced intuition and access to spiritual guidance. Some say it is a stone of visionary awareness, bringing new information to the mind in images rather than words. For those who believe in past life connections, especially to ancient Egypt, it is thought to be useful as an aid for recovering memories.
Regardless of which reason you choose to admire the stone (for me, it is the incredible beauty of the color combined with the rich golden flecks within it) this is truly a special gem, and in the case of the image shown, gemstone beads. This particular example is available at our Etsy site: http://tinyurl.com/atcs2p3