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Lapis lazuli (LAP-is lah-ZOO-lee, LAZH-oo-lee, or LAZ-yoo-lie) is always a vibrant indigo color, and many languages have words based on the name of this stone that are associated with this deep, intense blue, such as the word ‘azure’ in English. Its name is derived from Latin words lapis, meaning “stone”, and lazulum; this second word is derived from the Persian name of the stone, as well as a place where it was mined. It is also sometimes referred to simply as lapis (perhaps because there is so much variation in the way the word ‘lazuli’ can be pronounced). Unlike most semi-precious stones, lapis is actually a rock rather than a mineral. The main mineral in lapis lazuli is lazurite, and most lapis also has calcite (white), sodalite (blue), and/or pyrite (gold) in its composition as well.

It has a Mohs hardness of 5 to 6 and the main constituent (lazurite) has an isometric crystal structure.

It is the alternate birthstone for September (the main one being sapphire).

Location: Afghanistan is the oldest source of lapis lazuli, as well as one of the largest and most important. It can also be found in Canada, Angola, Argentina, Chile, India, Italy, Myanmar (Burma), Pakistan, Russia, and the United States.

Properties: Lapis lazuli is a strong third eye chakra stone, meaning it helps with activation of psychic abilities and higher mental functioning. It inspires the wearer to seek out divine truth and higher wisdom, and is an excellent aid for learning and memory. It is commonly used to help with past-life work, especially for lives that occurred in civilizations that prized this stone. Moreover, it is highly beneficial for other types of self-reflective work, enhancing awareness of beliefs and motivating forces within us. It has the capacity to illuminate both our strengths and our weaknesses, our skill set and our obstacles.

Some believe it can be used to aid treatment of throat, bone marrow, thymus, cellular, muscular, skeletal, and immune system disorders.

When there are calcite, sodalite, or pyrite inclusions, these minerals contribute to the properties of this stone; see their entries for more information.

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