Lapis Lazuli is a well-known stone today. This is pretty much for the same reason it has been known throughout history. Lapis Lazuli just has an elegant and impressive blue hue, ultramarine. It is simply sublime.
Cleopatra VII, typically known just as Cleopatra, was a powerful woman with an influential reign and bold personality. Her wisdom, hard work, and beauty have never been forgotten. But it is typically her looks that get magnified more than anything when we reflect on her. Cleopatra, personality-wise, was rather powerful and bold, as Cassius Dio's Roman History praises her for her looks, knowledge, and ability to enthrall and compel others. In a way, her make-up may have accentuated just how imposing she was. Cleopatra wore eyeshadow that was made from ground up Lapis Lazuli. While it certainly would have made her even more appealing, this is important for a few reasons. Firstly, Lapis Lazuli was viewed in divine light in Ancient Egypt, so perhaps there were was some religious reason for doing so. Secondly, Lapis Lazuli was a highly prized stone, in large part from its pigment. Thus appeal in terms of wealth is also highly likely. And finally, magical properties and stones are timeless. Wealth and beauty are important, but so is being healthy.
Cleopatra didn't just use Lapis Lazuli for her eyeshadow. In fact, Malachite was another popular, and pretty, choice. The magical properties associated with Malachite and Lapis Lazuli, here, were to promote health or prevent disease from striking. As a ruler, both of these are essential. A sick leader looks weak. This can be made especially worse when the leader is considered to be divine, is considered to be divinely chosen, or is said to have some union with the gods.
The thing is, the eye cosmetics did indeed have some impact when it came to fighting eye-related infections. Despite having lead, its content was low, as they were lead salts. These salts actually increased nitric oxide in people, a chemical that helps in protecting people from bad bacteria. Now, we are not saying people should start wearing lead or anything, but it is an interesting fact that could highlight that ancient people were far smarter than we give them credit for. Plus, it adds to the list of why Cleopatra wore Lapis Lazuli eyeshadow.
It is known that ancient doctors did use Lapis Lazuli for eye-related medicines, though of course these likely didn't appear in the form of eyeshadow. This, too, reinforces the point that perhaps the Ancient Egyptians didn't see it as entirely magical. It is rather more plausible that they were fully aware that it was indeed protective in terms of science and medicine, not as magic or divine intervention.
Romans and Greeks had come to love the stone, too, and considered it a prime symbol for the heavens and for an individual's courage or bravery. Romans also believed that it was an aphrodisiac. In any case, the stone was often used in decorations, jewelry, or used as a talisman to protect the wearer from injuries to the ankles. Some considered it to be a stone that would protect one from malaria, fevers, and melancholia. It was also regarded as a stone of love or friendship. In short, Lapis Lazuli jewelry is ancient.
The pigment or color by which it is known is ultramarine. Lapis Lazuli's ultramarine color was prized. However, it was incredibly expensive and rare to acquire. This was not from the stone itself. The process in achieving the pigment was not only laborious, but extremely difficult. The Virgin Mary is often depicted in some shade of blue, and, of course, this could be ultramarine. It has been used in a variety of paintings, decorations, statues, figurines, and more.
Aside from artists, the other people who had access to Lapis Lazuli were scribes. In one case, a medieval nun had Lapis Lazuli in her teeth. It is well known that monks would often copy texts and decorate manuscripts. The nun was working with ultramarine, made from Lapis Lazuli of course, and was likely a painter who would lick her brush in order to get it to a point.
There are other theories about why the nun has Lapis in her teeth, and some diminish her role or value, sadly. This instance has some really interesting implications, regardless. It shows that this nun was highly trusted, because having access to ultramarine was a special privilege given how expensive it was. Since she was working with it, we really want to know what was produced! A work with real ultramarine was inherently valuable, so we really want to know what prized work came from that monastery. Sadly, it would appear that her monastery burnt down at some point, so we may never know what that work was.
Lapis Lazuli Pronunciation: /lapɪs ləzuli/ (lap-is laz-oo-lee)
Lustre: Greasy, Sub-Vitreous
Crystal System: N/A, but the mineral that grows in it, Lazurite, is Isometric.
Etymology: From Latin, Lapis, meaning stone, and from Persian, Lazhward, meaning blue.
Lapis Lazuli has been praised for being a powerful stone that brings success or prosperity. It is a good stone in friendships and relationships for its influence in terms of honesty and communication. It stimulates the mind, too, for memory. It is capable of bringing out talents and skills. Some hold that Lapis Lazuli has healing powers.
People who enjoy exploring different hobbies, skills, or take on many classes might enjoy this stone for its ability to enhance memory. Plus, you never know if you're truly good at something until you at least try!
So here we are, from Ancient Egypt to today. Lapis Lazuli has had quite the extensive and luxurious voyage throughout time. A stone with a color so beautiful and rare that it was able to surpass gold in value. Yeah. It's that good. Science or magic, this stone has worked wonders.
Crystals and gemstones are nature's true beauties, but they are not a substitute for seeking professional medical, legal, health, or financial advice. Crystals and gemstones are to be used in conjunction with any professional care you are receiving and do not provide healing, cures, or other remedies modern medicine can provide. The information provided in our listings with regard to the powers of crystals and gemstones are all derived from personal & professional experience with crystals & gems as well as ancient wisdom and texts documenting knowledge gained from civilizations around the world. They are not backed by the FDA or scientific/government resources. Our crystals & gemstones are not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or malady. Our crystals and gemstones are also not a replacement for seeking professional legal advice, financial advising, or any other field of professional expertise. Crystals and gemstones are intended to be appreciated for their natural power and beauty, and used alongside modern, professional methods.
Dio, Cassius. Roman History.
Kozminsky, Isidore. The Magic and Science of Jewels and Stones. New York, The Knickerbocker Press, 1922.
Kunz, George Frederick. The Curious Lore of Precious Stones. Philadelphia, J. B. Lippincott Company, 1913.