The name lapis lazuli is derived from a Latin word ‘Lauzulus’ that means blue stone. Its name may also have an early influence from the Persian word ‘Lazhuward’ and the Arabic word ‘Lazaward’, both of which mean blue.
Lapis Lazuli occurs in various shades of blue with some qualities being speckled with white calcite and some with yellow pyrite. The finest Lapis Lazuli is even blue color with little or no veining from other elements.
Lapis Lazuli with deep azure blue color, often flecked with golden pyrite inclusions, was treasured by ancient Babylonian and Egyptian civilizations and often worn by royalty. Lapis lazuli was widely used by Egyptians for cosmetics and painting. Persian legend says that the heavens owed their blue color to a massive slab of Lapis upon which the earth rested. Lapis Lazuli was believed to be a sacred stone, buried with the dead to protect and guide them in the afterlife.
Lapis lazuli is actually a rock that contains a number of minerals like lazurite, hauynite, sodalite, noselite. It also has varying amounts of pyrite and white calcite mineral in a vein-like pattern. The specific gravity ranges between 2.7 and 2.9. The average refractive index of this gemstone is 1.50 and the hardness on Mohs scale is 5.5. If a drop of hydrochloric acid is dropped on the gem, there is a reaction that results in a rotten egg smell.
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