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The name lapis lazuli comes from the Latin lapis, meaning 'stone', and the Arabic azula, meaning 'blue'.
Lapis can have a smooth, uniform color, but frequently contains varying amounts of white calcite and flecks or veins of glinting golden pyrite.
Historians believe humans have mined lapis for over six millennia. The lapis mines of Bactria (now Afghanistan) that were producing in 700BCE are still producing today.
Artists used to grind lapis to make ultramarine pigment. Its bright blue color was extremely rare, and used sparingly. Artwork with this color could only be afforded by the wealthiest commissioners.
Lapis lazuli is believed to ward off darkness and negativity, and bring light, wisdom, and inner peace.