The best lapis lazuli still comes from the Sar-e-Sang mines in Afghanistan, where the vivid blue rock was traded to Egypt and Sumer (Iraq) in ancient times, and later throughout the East and Europe.

Class: semiprecious
Origin of Name: from the Persian lazhward (blue)
Color: dark blue to greenish-blue to purple-blue
Chemical Composition: aggregate of several minerals, including hauyne (which lends the stone its color), sodalite, nosean, and lazurite (a combination of hauyne and sodalite)
Crystal System: the four minerals above belong to the cubic system
Hardness: 5.5
Specific Gravity: 2.7-2.9
Geographic Origins: Afghanistan, Siberia, Chile

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Photo: ©International Colored Gemstone Association/Bart Curren

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