Lapis Lazuli Color: The Ultramarine Blue Stone

Lapis Lazuli Color: The Ultramarine Blue Stone

We have brought today’s blog about our magnificent ultramarine blue gem, Lapis Lazuli, and its color. With our professional research and expert analysis, it has come to light that the beautiful Lapis Lazuli has a lot to say about its mystique color. Without any further ado, let’s dive right into the topic!


Because of its mysterious blue tint, lapis lazuli is one of the most unique stones. The color of the stones varies depending on the role that each mineral plays in its creation. This beautiful tone is created by a sequence of minerals, each of which is responsible for shaping its own way of producing this beautiful collection of tones. The lapis lazuli is remarkable not only for the qualities we already know about but also for its uniqueness.


Today, among many other ultramarine blue color mysteries, we will be able to learn firsthand where this hue comes from and why it has such a strong social influence. You don't need to be a geology expert to appreciate the majesty of this stone; simply allow yourself to be engulfed by it. The lapis lazuli stone is known for two distinct tonalities: the unmistakable golden hue that resembles gold, and the distinctive blue color, which is also known as ultramarine blue or “dark blue” owing to its resemblance to the color of the sea. Its name comes from the medieval Latin ultramarinus, which means "beyond the sea," which refers to the fact that this natural pigment was brought by sea from Asia.


The ultramarine blue tone is similar to indigo or indigo tone, and is derived from the indigo plant (Indigofera tinctoria), and even to azurite, except that it has greener shades. Both are lovely colors, but neither was more admired in history than lapis lazuli. And only this color will give a human the same feeling as looking at a starry night sky. A socially defined "magical" feeling.


Lapis lazuli is a rock, which means it is a mineral aggregate. This ancient gem includes various concentrations of three minerals: lazurite, calcite, and pyrite. It can also contain one or more of the following elements: diopside, amphibole, feldspar, and mica. Lapis sometimes includes flecks or veins of gleaming yellow pyrite, or both, as well as a whitish calcite matrix (the host rock that surrounds the gem). The gem can also have a shiny, uniform body color with no apparent pyrite or calcite.

 Lapis lazuli is a rock, which means it is a mineral aggregate



It's easy to mix up two minerals with similar properties, but it's much more difficult when the two minerals have almost identical names. This is true to lazurite and lazulite. It makes a significant difference! The first is a nice blue mineral present in a number of minerals, while the second is the only blue mineral in the unusual gem material lapis lazuli. Clearly, they must be distinguished! To make matters worse, lapis lazuLi contains the mineral lazuRite.


Lapis Lazuli, also known as Lapis, is a gemstone type of Lazurite that is synonymous with white Calcite and sparkling Pyrite. The name Lazurite is derived from the Arabic word "Lazaward," which means "heaven," and refers to its blue hue. Lazurite is almost only found in huge form, with no visible crystals. The ancient occurrence of Afghanistan is an exception, where this mineral is prominent and widely esteemed for producing exceptional rich-blue crystals, unlike any other mineral. Mineral collectors prize these crystals, which are almost invariably perched in a white marble matrix. 


This gemstone's deep blue backdrop, along with its golden pyrite specs (dubbed "Fool's Gold" due to its similarity to real gold), gives it a dazzling look that some equate to the elegance of a starry night sky. Most of the world's lapis comes from a source in northern Afghanistan's mountains that has been mining for around 6,000 years. This deposit was mentioned in a book about Marco Polo's thirteenth-century journey to Asia by the Italian traveler and adventurer Marco Polo. Lapis has been used to create jewelry and other works of art for centuries. Archaeologists active in Egypt have discovered lapis in the tombs of pharaohs, the ancient Egyptian kings who were buried with wealth and necessities for their afterlife.


Lazurite, embedded in lapis, has long been used to create the bright blue pigment ultramarine. To make ultramarine, lazurite was carefully extracted from lapis and ground into a powder, which was then combined with a binding agent. Since lapis was so valuable, ultramarine was very costly, and its use was reserved for very rare paintings by famous artists. It wasn't until the early nineteenth century that a similar-intensity yellow blue dye was invented.


Earth chemistry is very complicated as compared to the closely regulated tests in chemistry lab class. Geochemists face a massive challenge in determining how rock and mineral matter shape and change chemically. Many geochemical processes, like the formation of lazurite, take place deep within the Earth, where temperatures and pressures are far greater than on the surface. The most popular and stunning lapis lazuli is made up of 25 to 40% lazurite. When a stone has a lot of white in it, it is known as cheaper calcite.

 Blue was rarely seen in the classical Roman world

Origin of the Blue Colour of Lapis


Throughout history, the color blue has had a variety of connotations. Formerly thought to have magical properties in the ancient world, blue dye was later synonymous with royalty before being used for uniforms in the military, hospitals, and manufacturing factories.

Color, according to psychologists, is hardwired into the human psyche and led to our evolutionary survival as hunter-gatherers who once learned to live in the wild in the blue sky and oceans. Blue's influence is so well recognized that artists often use it to decorate workplaces, citing studies that show it increases creativity and feelings of peace.


Until the late 18th century, the only source of lapis lazuli in Europe, Asia, and Africa was the isolated Sar-e-Sang valley in northeast Afghanistan's Badakhshan mountains, where it had been mined for over six millennia. It was used for jewelry and amulets by the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians, and its reputed magical aura as a shield against the evil eye dates back thousands of years. Its spread throughout Europe started during the Crusades, but its scarcity and high expense ensured that it could only be afforded by the wealthiest patrons for the production of artworks. 


The collection is now the centerpiece of “Lapis Lazuli: The Magic of Blue,” an absorbing and often dazzling exhibition that spans from the third millennium B.C., in the form of a royal seal from Mesopotamia, through the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Baroque periods, to the quest for synthetic blues in the nineteenth century and the revival of genuine lapis lazuli by jewelers in the twentieth century. Maria Sframeli, Valentina Conticelli, Riccardo Gennaioli, and Gian Carlo Parodi curated the exhibition, which runs until October 11.


Blue was rarely seen in the classical Roman world, perhaps because it was associated with the dress and body painting of barbarian races. The representation of the Virgin Mary in blue became common beginning in the 12th century, perhaps due to the color's lack of pagan religious connections. Because of its exceptional color stability, ultramarine made from lapis was suitable for this reason (the alternatives, such as azurite pigments, tended to turn green or black over time). 


Moving forward in time, during the Italian Renaissance, a blue pigment is known as 'ultramarine' became extremely fashionable. Ultramarine is one of the most popular colors in Western art history, having been used extensively in Europe since the twelfth century. The deep blue pigment was created by powdering lapis lazuli. However, if the blue was ground so finely, it would turn a dark grey. Ultramarine was once more valuable than gold. It became widely available, however, and was widely used by Italian artists in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.


Any gemstones exhibit a noticeable or drastic change of color when exposed to various light sources. When you look at a garnet under electric or artificial illumination, it can appear red; but, when you take it outside into the sunshine, it becomes green! This extraordinary effect exists only in a few gemstones, the most well-known of which are Alexandrite, Garnet, and some Sapphires, but it does NOT occur in Lapis Lazuli.

 Lapis in Paintings and Monuments

Lapis in Paintings and Monuments


The elegance of lapis lazuli is exemplified by the timeless paintings of the Renaissance period. The vivid blue diamond was used as the hidden ingredient in ultramarine, a delicate blue dye capable of evoking anything from the darkest oceans to the robes of the Virgin Mary by master artists of the period. The pigment of lapis lazuli remained unrivaled until 1834, and many contend that there is no replacement for its strength even today.


The longevity of lapis paints is shown in the exhibition's final part, "From Ultramarine to Klein Blue," by illuminated manuscripts from the 15th century, paintings on panel by Lorenzo Monaco and Fra Angelico, a detached fresco by Melozzo da Forl, and a 17th-century canvas by Sassoferrato. For hundreds of years, the price of high-quality lapis lazuli remained relatively constant, with an ounce of lapis usually costing about the equivalent of an ounce of gold. As a result, even when new origins of the stone were discovered, such as in Siberia and Chile, the purest commodity remained prohibitively expensive.


In the early nineteenth century, prizes were given for the invention of a cheaper, synthetic alternative. This was accomplished in the mid-1820s by the French chemist Jean-Baptist Guimet, but the hue was not as deep blue. Ingres used it in 1827 for his "Apotheosis of Homer" (now in the Louvre), and he was very pleased with the outcome.


Yves Klein, a French artist, attempted and struggled in the 1950s to create a blue as vivid as that used by Giotto. He turned to Édouard Adam, a paint merchant, and amateur chemist, who devised a promising formula. In 1960, the composition was officially registered with the “Institut national de la propriété industrielle” as “IKB” (International Klein Blue), but no reference of Édouard Adam was made. The color is depicted here by a variation of Klein's "Victory of Samothrace," which was included in several subsequent works. 


However, artists have continued to return to the original, one-of-a-kind stone. The jewelers of the Padua Gold School are notable among these. The most striking of the imaginative examples on display is a stunning brooch by Annamaria Zanella from 2009, in the symbolic shape of a folded piece of ultramarine drapery. It is enameled with lapis lazuli powder and inspired by Antonello da Messina's "Annunciata" painting of the Virgin in Munich. It was prepared using Cennino Cennini's and other Renaissance manuals.


For decades, painters in Europe used Lapis Lazuli as a pigment, and some of the greatest masterpieces used ultramarine (made from oil and powdered Lapis Lazuli), including Van Gogh's Starry Night, Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring, and Titian's Bacchus and Ariadne.

Michelangelo also used powdered Lapis Lazuli dye to paint the frescoes on the dome of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican in Rome. Tutankhamun's iconic golden death mask has genuine lapis lazuli eyes but artificial lapis lazuli bands on the headdress.

Peter Carl Faberge used Lapis Lazuli on each of his 58 sketches for the Russian Czars when creating his beautiful egg sculptures for them. One of the eggs recently sold for $18.5 million at Christies.


A gemstone that has followed an Egyptian Pharaoh on his way to the afterlife or that has decorated the crown of a Sumerian Queen is unquestionably a very rare thing. Imagine an ancient miner in the Pamir Mountains discovering a block of deep blue Lapis Lazuli flecked with golden pyrite, and watching it mirrored in the midnight sky with abundant stars overhead. It's no surprise that this gemstone was seen as a blessing from the Gods. Using this wonderful gemstone as jewelry or bringing it into your spiritual experience would help this aspect of our shared cultural heritage to flourish and evolve. If that isn't enough to persuade you, the texture, weight, and grace of this natural beauty are.