The relatively rare, semi-precious stone Lapis Lazuli has been mined in northeastern Afghanistan for over 6,000 years. Deposits have been found elsewhere in the millennia since, but its history as a prized intensely blue stone has endured to the present day.
Ground lapis lazuli was used as an eye shadow by Cleopatra and was also the pigment in ultramarine blue tempera and oil paints before it was synthesized in the early 19th century. For example, Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer’s famous oil painting Girl with a Pearl Earring (c. 1665) incorporated prohibitively expensive ultramarine blue oil paint.
In the Buddhist tradition, the buddha of healing and medicine is Bhaisajyaguru , whose formal name Bhaisajyaguruvaiduryaprabharaja means Medicine Master and King of Lapis Lazuli Light. He is usually depicted carrying a lapis colored bowl of medicinal nectar and surrounded by an aura of blue light.
Besides the blue mineral lazurite, most lapis lazuli contains white calcite, sodalite (blue), and grains of pyrite, or fool’s gold. Our Lupin necklace uses pyrite spacers to accentuate these metallic flecks in the large lapis nuggets.