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Two and One-Half Carats of Gorgeous, Genuine, Antique Handcrafted Semi-Precious Afghani Lapis Lazuli Semi-Precious Gemstones on 14kt Gold Fill French Hooks.

CLASSIFICATION: 6 Roughly Shaped Disc Gemstones, total gemstone weight approximately 2 1/2 carats. Contemporary high quality 14kt gold fill french hooks.

ORIGIN: 19th Century Badakhshan, northeastern Afghanistan.


Approximate Diameter: 4-5 millimeters.

Approximate Thickness: 1-2 millimeters.

Approximate Weight: 1/4 - 3/4 carats (average about 0.40cts).

DETAIL: A set of six beautiful antique Afghani bright blue lapis lazuli semi-precious gemstones mounted onto contemporary 14kt gold filled french hooks. These particular specimens were hand crafted (shaped, drilled and polished) by a 19th century Russian artisan for use in high-end domestic jewelry. Though the shaping of the gemstones was rather primitive (they are somewhere between disc and "nugget" shaped), the polish is nice (done by hand), the gemstones themselves are exquisitely colored. They are a very bright "royal" blue, considerably lighter than inky "midnight blue" African or Australian sapphires, but well past the medium blue of sapphires from Ceylon and Burma. It is truly a very rich and regal blue, bringing to mind all of the rich pageantry of the royal houses of Europe.

Though it is quite obvious that these gemstones were hand finished, the irregularities which are the hallmark of handcrafted gemstones are generally regarded as appealing to most gemstone collectors, and are not considered detrimental. Unlike today's computer controlled machine finished gemstones, the cut and finish of gemstones such as these is the legacy of an artisan who lived two centuries ago. Such antique hand-crafted gemstones possess much greater character and appeal than today's mass-produced machine-produced gemstones. Gem quality lapis lazuli is in high demand, and can be quite costly, and though roughly shaped, these are very good quality lapis lazuli gemstones.

These gorgeous lapis lazuli gemstones have been mounted onto contemporary 14kt gold fill french hooks. These are not cheap gold electroplate earrings, they are high quality 14kt gold fill. Upon request the gemstones could also be remounted onto kidney wires, lever backs, euroclicks, or ball studs if you would prefer; or remounted onto sterling silver (click here for more information). It's a first-class piece of jewelry throughout, designed to provide a lifetime of wearing enjoyment. Lapis Lazuli gets its name from the Arabic word "allazward", meaning "sky-blue". Along with turquoise and carnelian, the three are undoubtedly amongst the most ancient of gemstones. For more than 7,000 years lapis lazuli has been mined as a gemstone in Afghanistan, near ancient Mesopotamia, and traded throughout the ancient Mediterranean world. The ancient source of lapis lazuli was these very same mines at Badakhshan, in the Persian highlands above the fertile Mesopotamian lowlands. The Persian highlands and plateau provided many of the raw materials lacking in the ancient civilizations abounding in the Mesopotamian lowlands (the "fertile crescent").

The most ancient jewelry typically used one or more of these three gemstones (carnelian, turquoise), and lapis lazuli was certainly very popular. How popular? Well, the most ancient examples of jewelry are probably those found in Queen Pu-abi's tomb at Ur in Sumeria dating from the 3rd millennium B.C. In the crypt the queen was covered with a robe of gold, silver, lapis lazuli, carnelian, agate, and chalcedony beads. The lower edge of the robe was decorated with a fringed border of small gold, carnelian, and lapis lazuli cylinders. Near her right arm were three long gold pins with lapis lazuli heads, and three amulets in the shape of fish. Two of the fish amulets were made of gold and the third, you guessed it, lapis lazuli. On the queen's head were three diadems each featuring lapis lazuli.

At roughly the same time, lapis lazuli was also certainly popular in 3,100 B.C. with the Egyptians who used it in medicines, pigments (ultramarine), cosmetics (eye-shadow) and, of course, jewelry. The ancient Egyptians believed lapis lazuli to be sacred and used it in the tombs and coffins of pharaohs. The famous mask (left) covering the head of Tutankhamen's mummy is inlaid primarily in lapis lazuli, with accents of turquoise and carnelian. The tombs of Tutankhamen and Queen Pu-abi, two of the richest tombs in all history, lapis lazuli was featured prominently in both.

Besides jewelry, lapis lazuli has also been used since ancient times for mosaics and other inlaid work, carved amulets, vases, and other objects. Ordinarily it was cut cabochon (smooth concave) as a gem. Since ancient times it was also ground and used as a pigment. When lapis was first introduced to Europe, it was called "ultramarinum", which means "beyond the sea". Ground lapis was the secret of the blue in ultramarine, the pigment which painters used to paint the sea and the sky until the nineteenth century. Lapis was also popular in inlays. In what was once one of the cultural capitals of Europe, St. Petersburg, Russia, the 100 foot columns of St Isaac's Cathedral are lined with lapis, and the Pushkin Palace has lapis lazuli paneling 60 feet in height! Most lapis lazuli contains iron pyrite in the form of golden flecks sprinkled throughout the gemstone, the hallmark characteristic of lapis lazuli, often compared by the ancient with stars in the sky.

SHIPPING OPTIONS: All purchases are backed by an unlimited guarantee of satisfaction and authenticity. If for any reason you are not entirely satisfied with your purchase, you may return it for a complete and immediate refund of your entire purchase price. Most of these antique gemstones were originally part of two collections, one originating in India principally composed of gemstones originally mined in India, Burma, Ceylon, and Siam, and then hand faceted in India. The addition of a second accumulation of antique gemstones originally mined in the Urals in the mid to late 19th century (including alexandrite) completed the collection. These gemstones as well were hand finished. The Urals have been one of the world's major sources of precious and semi-precious gemstones for many centuries. As well, additional specimens are occasionally acquired from other institutions and dealers in Eastern Europe and Asia. These antique gemstones are now in the United States and are available for immediate delivery.

We ship inventory from the USA order fulfillment center near Seattle, Washington. Your purchase will ordinarily be shipping within 48 hours of payment. A certificate of authenticity is available upon request. We prefer your personal check or money order over any other form of payment - and we will ship immediately upon receipt of your check (no "holds"). We will accept PayPal payments. Please see our "ADDITIONAL TERMS OF SALE".