Lapis lazuli is one of the most particular stones due to its mystical blue color. The color of the stones varies according to the influence that each mineral has in its formation process. This beautiful tone is formed thanks to a series of minerals that are each responsible for influencing their own way to generate this beautiful set of tones.
The lapis lazuli is not only very special for the qualities we already know but also for its distinction. Today, among many other curiosities of the ultramarine blue color, we will be able to know firsthand where this shade comes from and why it generates so much impact in society. You don’t need to be an expert in geology, you just need to let yourself be enveloped by the beauty of this stone.
Colors of Lapis lazuli
The lapis lazuli stone specifically handles two tonalities, one of them is the unmistakable golden color that resembles gold, and the other is its characteristic blue tone, which is usually called also as ultramarine blue, or “dark blue” due to the similarity of this color to the color of the sea. Its name derives from the medieval Latin ultramarinus, which means “beyond the sea” and refers to the fact that this natural pigment was imported from Asia by sea.
The ultramarine blue tone could be confused with the indigo or indigo tone, which is taken from the indigo plant (Indigofera tinctoria), or also with the Azurite, except that this has greener shades. Both are beautiful colors but none as revered by history as lapis lazuli. Because only this color can generate in a person the same sensation of when he looks at the starry night sky. A sensation socially described as “magical.”
How does such a color derive from the earth?
Now that you know a little about the importance of this pigmentation we will tell you about the wonderful natural process that generates it. As we mentioned at the beginning, the color of the stone will determine the type of process that went through that rock. Most colors are due to the presence of organic materials in the precipitates.
The particular case of lapis lazuli comes from the presence of metallic ions in the crystalline network of the precipitates; the copper ions provide part of that bluish tone to the lapis, which in itself is a mixture of several minerals and each of them influences to generate that coloration: The colors of lapis lazuli are usually a mixture of lazurite with small amounts of calcite, pyroxene and silicates, and contains disseminated small particles of pyrite.
The lazurite is the element that gives it the blue tone (the more intense and blue the lazurite of the stone, the more precious the piece will be, although the lighter shades are the common ones). The abundant blue color comes from the sulfur that is fundamental in the lazurite structure. The most common and beautiful lapis lazuli consists of 25 to 40 percent lazurite. When the stone has a lot of white color, it means that it is classified as a cheaper calcite.
The tone has a great influence when detecting natural lapis because it is very difficult to recreate these golden specks in plastic, since their shapes do not follow any kind of pattern. It is more common to find fake lapis than real lapis. Usually low quality lapis lazuli is dyed blue to look high quality, and so can be sold for a lower quality price. But then they can fade on contact with clothing or skin. You can even try it yourself by putting on a little acetone or alcohol. Our lapis is real lapis.
The golden color of this stone, compared many times with gold, is very characteristic of it. The calcite is the one that gives color to its characteristic veins and the pyrite is the one that produces the golden reflections. The golden touches give the stone a set of shades that remind us of those used in Egyptian decorations and clothing.
The ultramarine blue before some eyes may look a little violet and this happens because the pigmentation also has red traces, mixed with bluish reds, this explosive combination offers the human eye endless possibilities for the creation of violets, which when applied finely on a white background or mixed with white paint, you get this characteristic blue color so intense but clear and particular from the Renaissance.
This beautiful tone that does not stop losing its appeal has been recreated in recent years in a synthetic way, however, this does not manage to look exactly like the original, and you do not need to be an expert to notice it. The main experiments to create this color were necessary, since obtaining it in an original way was too expensive and laborious. Lapis lazuli stones must be manually cleaned of all the impurities they bring naturally, which makes it a fairly long process, but if you are interested in this subject you can learn more in our post: lapis lazuli, meaning, etymology and secrets.
The obtaining of this color in a synthetic form began in the year 1824 during the Industrial Revolution and the emergence of the Chemical Sciences. That year a competition was organized in France, where anyone who discovered a synthetic variant of the same quality but cheaper would win 6,000 francs, which meant a huge fortune at the time. In 1828, three chemists: Guimet, Gmelin and Köttig discovered independently of each other, a very similar formula; but Guimet was the winner, having discovered the recipe years earlier in secret. Thanks to this discovery we observe this color in all the palettes of the world. Its official name is as follows: Pigment Blue 29, PB 29, CI 77007
Knowing the origin of this epic color will probably make you doubt about the fact that it forms naturally and not as part of some plan; but, yes, it is about nature doing its work. You can enjoy a beautiful collection of jewelry made with natural lapis lazuli in Nammu. Choose your favorite to always carry a window to the sea with you.
Originally Post “Los colores del lapislázuli: una mágica creación de la naturaleza“
Translated by Oscar Moreno.