Lapis lazuli has been mined in the Badakhshan province of Afghanistan for 6,500 years, and trade in the stone is ancient enough for lapis jewelry to have been found at Predynastic Egyptian sites, and lapis beads at neolithic burials in Mehrgarh, the Caucasus, and even as far from Afghanistan as Mauritania.
The alliterative name is composed from 'lapis', the Latin word for stone, and 'azula', which comes from the Arabic and means blue. Lapis lazuli is regarded by many people around the world as the stone of friendship and truth. The blue stone is said to encourage harmony in relationships and help its wearer to be authentic and give his or her opinion openly. (gemstone.org)
When the stone is polished it can look like this:
Lapis is also used to make jewelry like the Afghan ring below:
photo: John McLean.
Lapis can also be made into an ultramarine pigment that is then made into oil paint or watercolor:
Johannes Vermeer was a very well-known Dutch painter who used the blue pigment extensively in many of his paintings. You can see the color in the woman's skirt below:
Young Woman With a Water Pitcher
Here is a piece of jewelry I've had for a very long time. I got it when I was with my husband in Italy just a year after we were married. Of course the stones are lapis and the body of the cross is 18 ct. gold:
And lapis is often carved in the shape of animals: