Royal blue lapis lazuli is a semiprecious gemstone that was highly prized by ancient Babylonian and Egyptian royalty. Today, miners recover the gem from only a few deposits around the world. A major site is in the rugged Kokcha Valley of northern Afghanistan; it dates back 6,000 years. The stone has many uses, including jewelry and pigment for ultramarine paints. Some believe lapis lazuli has mystical powers.
Lapis lazuli, in both raw and polished-gem forms, is a known element of al-Qa’ida’s financial network. This raw lapis came from a Taliban stronghold. In today’s market, the value of raw lapis ranges from $250 to $1,200 a kilogram, depending on quality.
6.5 cm x 12.5 cm x 6.2 cm
(L x W x H)