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Lapis lazuli beads might as well come straight from the tales of the Arabian Nights, with their rich blue color and inclusions that twinkle like stars! The name comes from the Latin word for "stone" (lapis) and the Arabian word for "blue" (azul). One of only a few rocks used as a semiprecious gemstone, lapis lazuli contains grains of several blue minerals, including lazurite and sodalite. This opaque stone is distinctively fluorescent, and contains a matrix of calcite and speckles of pyrite. Lapis lazuli was one of the first gemstones to be used in jewelry. (continued below)
Lapis beads continue a jewelry tradition dating back thousands of years. Mediterranean excavations have unearthed lapis jewelry dating back to 2900 B.C., and the legendary city of Ur is reported to have run a lapis trade as early as 4000 B.C.! Alexander the Great introduced this deep blue gemstone to Europe. In the Middle Ages, monks powdered the stone for use in illuminated manuscripts. Today, people around the world consider lapis to be a stone of truth, spirituality, and friendship. They are reputed to bring harmony to relationships, cleanse the mental body, and release old karmic patterns. Denim lapis beads are cut from a relatively pale, less-expensive form of lapis. Their lighter blue color looks great with blue jeans! Enhanced lapis is genuine lapis lazuli that is dyed and stabilized to appear liker pricier dark lapis. Keep in mind that lapis gemstones are easily scratched and chipped; clean these beads only with a soft, dry cloth to maintain their shine.