Lapis Lazuli September Birthstone
Lapis Lazuli is a semi-precious gemstone and the September birthstone along with its precious cousin Sapphire. As Sapphire is a precious gemstone, a semi-precious alternative is given because of the cost of precious gemstones.
The gemstone of the sky and of a curious name – Lapis Lazuli was admired, desired and highly valued by ancient civilisations. Its deep, celestial blue remains the symbol of royalty and honour, gods and power, spirit and vision. This September birthstone is a universal symbol of wisdom and truth.
Appearance of Lapis Lazuli
Lapis Lazuli is a blue metamorphic rock that has been used by people as a gemstone, sculpting material, pigment, and ornamental material for thousands of years. The September birthstone is a rock composed of three minerals of which the most important is lazurite. Lazurite forms the bulk of a Lapis Lazuli rock and is responsible for the gemstone’s deep blue colour. To be called “Lapis Lazuli” a rock must have a distinctly blue colour and contain at least 25% blue lazurite. Another two important mineral components of a Lapis Lazuli gemstone are pyrite, which makes the yellow speckles and calcite, with its white intrusions.
The intense blue colour is the most important quality of the Lapis Lazuli gemstone. The most desirable pieces have a rich, solid blue colour with a few reflective pieces of gold pyrite. Lapis is semi-translucent to opaque, with a waxy to vitreous lustre. Its colour can range from deep violet blue and royal blue to light blue to turquoise blue to a greenish blue. The combination of different minerals in the aggregate determines the colour.
Where is Lapis Lazuli Found?
As it is a rock and is composed of several minerals the hardness of each mineral has to be taken into account. Generally, Lapis Lazuli has fair toughness and its hardness ranges from 5 to 6 on the Mohs scale, depending on the mix of minerals. Afghanistan has been the world’s most important source of Lapis Lazuli for thousands of years. The Badakhshan area in northern Afghanistan is where the world’s finest Lapis Lazuli comes from. The same mines operating today supplied Lapis Lazuli to the pharaohs. It has also been found in Chile, Russia, Canada, Pakistan, Argentina, and the USA.
History of September Birthstone
Lapis lazuli is one of the oldest gemstones used in history dating back to 6500 years ago and was employed for a variety of uses. The use of Lapis Lazuli for art and jewellery originated in Afghanistan and spread to Asia, the Middle East, the Mediterranean and the Roman world. The ancient civilisations valued it for its vivid, exquisite colour and prized it as much as other blue gemstones like sapphire and turquoise. They wore this September birthstone as jewellery and amulet and used it as a cosmetic eye shadow, a pigment, and a medicine. Sculptures of Egyptian pharaohs had their eyebrows or irises coloured by it and Cleopatra used powdered Lapis Lazuli for her eye shadow. Beautiful Egyptian amulets and pieces of semi-precious jewellery made from Lapis Lazuli stone were discovered in the tomb of the Egyptian Pharaoh King Tutankhamun.
It was referenced in the Old Testament as sapphire which was unknown at the time. Lapis Lazuli is most likely the fifth stone in the original breastplate of the High Priest. Marco Polo wrote about the Lapis Lazuli mines way back in 1271. In the Middle Ages, Lapis Lazuli powder was manufactured into pigment known as ultramarine which was at the time more precious than gold. This magnificent pigment helped to create some of the most beautiful paintings in history. The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was painted with it and the most important artists of the Renaissance used it. It was Michelangelo’s favourite.
Origin of September Birthstone Name
The two-part name of this September birthstone comes from two different languages. Lapis is a Latin word meaning “stone,” while lazuli comes from the Persian word lazhuward, meaning “blue”. Many people refer to this gemstone simply as “Lapis”.
Meaning of Lapis Lazuli
Lapis Lazuli is one of the oldest known spiritual gemstones used by healers, priests and royalty for power, wisdom and to stimulate psychic abilities and inner vision. Since the earliest of times, Lapis Lazuli has been associated with strength and courage, royalty and wisdom, intellect, and truth. The Ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamians prized Lapis Lazuli and called it the Stone of Rulers. It was thought to bring wisdom, honesty and reveal our own inner insight. A stone of truth, the September birthstone encourages honesty of the spirit, and in the spoken and written word.
Benefits of Lapis Lazuli
It is a useful gemstone to wear as it is said to relieve anger and negative thoughts. Physically, it is beneficial to the throat, vocal cords and helps to regulate the thyroid glands.
How to Care for Lapis Lazuli Jewellery
Lapis Lazuli takes excellent polish and has been widely used in jewellery. With a hardness of 5-6 it sits in the middle of the Mohs hardness scale making it harder than other popular gemstones yet softer than many transparent ones. Lapis Lazuli is sensitive to pressure, heat and household cleaners and abrasives.
You can effectively clean your September birthstone jewellery with a soft brush and mild soap is but it is not advisable to let it sit in water. Avoid mechanical cleaners, such as steam or ultrasonic systems and chemical solvents.
How to Wear September Birthstone
Blue represents introspective journeys and symbolises wisdom and depth of understanding. It is the colour of stability and trust, consistency, authority, and strength. Blue is a favourite colour of lots of people and especially men.
When pairing your Lapis Lazuli jewellery, a harmonious combination could be achieved by matching Lapis Lazuli with purple or turquoise colours. If you would like to complete a more striking look, red or orange would be a decent choice. This September birthstone has either white or yellow matrix or feathering through it which makes it versatile to match with silver as well as gold. All varieties of this gemstone make good combinations with neutral colours. For a truly summery look match your Lapis Lazuli piece of jewellery with a white top or a dress and you are guaranteed to draw attention.
Lapis Lazuli makes a good choice for men’s jewellery too because of its rich blue colour as it makes it so easy to colour coordinate.
“Crystal Power, Crystal Healing” Michael Gienger