Lapis Lazuli

Few gems display a color as rich as the deep royal blue of fine lapis. Lapis was one of the most precious commodities of the ancient world, and was even valued on an equal level with gold. Lapis was used in medicines, cosmetics and paintings. The tomb of Tutankhamen, Pharaoh of Egypt contained a wealth of gold and lapis jewels. Lapis has been mined continuously though sporadically for more than 6000 years in the Badakshan region of Afghanistan. Lapis is actually a rock, composed chiefly of the minerals lazurite, pyrite and calcite. Lazurite is blue, pyrite yellow and calcite is white. The brassy-gold spots and flecks of pyrite in genuine lapis are very distinctive.
(Fr. Golden Spike News 9/3 & others via Rock Rollers, 9/07)