Lapis lazuli

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Lapis lazuli (pronounced /ˈlæpɪs ˈlæzjʉlaɪ/ or /ˈlæzjʉli/ LAP-iss LAZ-ew-lye/lee[1]) (sometimes abbreviated to lapis) is a relatively rare semi-precious stone that has been prized since antiquity for its intense blue color.

Lapis lazuli has been mined from mines in the Badakhshan province of Afghanistan for over 6,000 years and there are sources that are found as far east as in the region around Lake Baikal in Siberia. Trade in the stone is ancient enough for lapis jewelry to have been found at Predynastic Egyptian sites, and as lapis beads at neolithic burials in Mehrgarh, the Caucasus, and even as far from Afghanistan as Mauritania.[2]

Contents

Description

Lapis lazuli is a rock, largely formed from the mineral lazurite.[3]

The main component of lapis lazuli is lazurite (25% to 40%), a feldspathoid silicate mineral with formula: (Na,Ca)8(AlSiO4)6(S,SO4,Cl)1-2.[4] Most lapis lazuli also contains calcite (white), sodalite (blue), and pyrite (metallic yellow). Other possible constituents: augite; diopside; enstatite; mica; hauynite; hornblende, and nosean. Some lapis lazuli contains trace amounts of the sulfur-rich löllingite variety geyerite.

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