Lapis Lazuli is a beautiful stone for a distinctive signet ring. Lapis is a softer stone and needs to be protected from damage. Gareth designs his signet rings to have a raised bezel to protect the edge of the stone.
Other jewelers raise the stone above the gold to make it easier too carve. This leaves the stone very vulnerable to breakage. Gareth has replaced many ring stones that were broken because of this design flaw. Family crests carved in Lapis Lazuli must be polished. This two stage process makes them a premium option.
Custom cameo portrait ring made by Gareth at Portrait Cameos. Hand carved with the portrait of a man in Lapis Lazuli. The photograph is of a renowned explorer and grandfather of the customer. Set in a gold ring with Lapis lazuli inlaid panels on the shoulders. These are protected and enhanced by gold Acanthus leaf details pinned onto the sides.
Carving lapis Lazuli is a difficult, advanced process. A stable stone, free from cracks and with a solid structure is required for a good carving. Lapis Lazuli is a soft stone and does not like heat or pressure.
The carver has to have a light and delicate touch to avoid damage. Carvings in Lapis must be polished. This makes carving Lapis a long process and great experience is needed to create the best results.
Ask Gareth Eckley to hand carve an eagle, lion, wolf, animal, totem or any design into Lapis for you.
Lady Diana Gibson-Watt asked me to create a jewelry suite from some of her collection of Lapis lazuli gemstones and natural pearls.
Diana had toured the middle east in the 1950s. She visited Jordan, Israel, Iraq, and Afghanistan where she bought her Lapis.
I designed a pendant with a pearl enhancer in 18kt yellow gold to fit over the pearl necklace.
The central Lapis is encircled by fully drilled pearls on gold pegs with gold spacers in between. The drop earrings match the pendant.
Click the button for more examples of jewelry that I designed for Lady Gibson Watt.
Lapis was the stone of Laz, the Babylonian goddess of love and was widely believed to make you lucky in love. The gemstone also represents Ishtar the Sumerian goddess of battle and love. Lapis was the most highly prized gemstone to the Ancient Egyptians, the deep celestial blue symbolized royalty, honor, the gods and power. Lapis lazuli represents a universal symbol of truth. Lapis lazuli was valuable to the ancient Egyptians as an image of the heavens. Its dark-blue coloration was the indigo of the night sky while the white-gold flecks of pyrite represented the imperishable stars. Lapis was often used to represent the sky godess Neut and her daughter Isis, goddess of heaven.
Lapis Lazuli has been used to make blue pigment for centuries. Ground Lapis Lazuli has been used to dye cloth and for art. There are examples from Bhuddist monks from the 4th century.
Painters of the Renaissance such as Cellini, Michelangelo and of course Titian used ground Lapis pigment for their paintings.
Titian, is regarded as one of the finest portrait artists. His signature effect was to use Ultramarine blue that he created by grinding Lapis and mixing it with Linseed Oil.
This is actually known as Titian blue by some and can be seen on his painting of 'Bacchus and Adrienne' from 1521. I saw this in the National Gallery in London. While the other oil paint has faded the blue of the robes and the background is still as intense now as when first painted 500 years ago.
Michelangelo used Lapis Lazuli powder to pigment tempura paints for the blues in his fresco in the Sistine chapel.
The girl with the pearl earring by Vermeer uses lapis pigment for her headscarf. This is a brilliant blue, especially as it is 400 years old.
An excellent resource is this page on how to make pigment and paint from lapis lazuli by Silwa of Swaneholm. The most informative and well researched article on Lapis Lazuli to make Ultramarine blue pigment is by David Marguiles.
The process involves crushing the Lapis, then using various processes and agents to remove the impurities. The best quality Lapis gives a more intense final result than when cheaper material is used. The washed and clean powder is is used to pigment tempra paint for frescos or can be mixed with linseed oil to make an oil paint.
You can buy real lapis lazuli pigment from Lapis Lazuli World, listed at $1300 per Kilogram ( 2.2 lbs ).