Lapis Lazuli is a semi-precious stone, composed of several minerals, mostly lazurite (25%-40%) that gives it its blue coloring. Lapis lazuli is one of the most valuable semi-opaque stones mined for its excellent take on polish to be used for jewelry and ornaments. Its modern name originates in the Persian word lajward, meaning blue. The best quality of Lapis is found in mountains of Badakhshan, a northern-eastern province in Afghanistan, where the precious stone has been mined and prized for more than 6000 years until today. The Mesopotamians honored the stone by referring to its beauty several times in the oldest piece of literature, the poem the Epic of Gilgamesh (17th century BCE). The Egyptians favoured the stone for making their important scarabens and Cleopatra used powdered Lapis for decorating her eyes. The stone made its way through many civilizations and continuously transformed itself to meet the needs of its time. The works by great European artists like Vermeer and Michelangelo show skilled and tasteful use of the colour, displaying its timeless beauty and compelling power. Lapis Lazuli was often valued over gold right up until the industrial age. Despite the geographical distances between these cultures, all of them considered Lapis Lazuli precious, spiritual and powerful. It is believed to stimulate the desire for knowledge, truth and understanding, and aids the process of learning. Possessing enormous serenity, Lapis Lazuli is protective.