Lapis lazuli (Lapis lazzulo)
703. (168) 'There is a stone,' says Pliny 98 'called Cyanus, of dark blue colour, which is sometimes combined with a gold-dust'. Anyone who knows this highly acclaimed and beautiful stone will be convinced that Pliny's description is exact, and will not be able to doubt that the 'Cyanus' of the ancients corresponds to lapis lazuli. Hill 99 concurs with this opinion. That of the ancients came from Persia, and China, now it is also found in Siberia, but it is not as heavy and is inferior in the beauty of its colour; indeed it is often very much marked by white. The presence of iron in lapis lazuli is incidental, and Mineralogists demonstrate by analysis that the ultramarine that is extracted from it is not coloured by any metallic substance. The large altar [p169] of S. Ignazio in the church of the Gesù is ornamented with this stone. The specimen in this collection is entirely azure. (Very rare).