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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Blue Flame Lapis Lazuli

Photo courtesy Lichtblick Fotodesign, Jürgen & Hiltrud Cullmann, Schwollen, Germany. Courtesy of Henn GmbH
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Catalog Number NMNH G11580-00

Gift of Ms. Jane Mitchell and Jeffrey S. Bland in 2015.

Lapis lazuli, characterized by its intense blue color, has been valued as an ornamental stone and pigment for more than 6,000 years. The name is derived from the Persian word, lazhward, meaning “blue.” Like most of the world’s lapis lazuli, this “Blue Flame” was mined high in a remote valley of Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush Mountains. Weighing over 250 pounds, it is one of the largest and finest known pieces of gem-quality lapis lazuli.


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