Chile is today the world’s largest source of lapis lazuli, a striking semiprecious stone that is extracted from the Flores de los Andes mine at an altitude of 12,500 feet. Lapis has been made into jewelry since at least 3,400 B.C., and the original deposits were chiefly in Afghanistan. Later, it was ground into a pigment known as ultramarine, which was widely used to make fade-resistant paints during the High Renaissance. The deep blue color was unmatched - and therefore costly - until a synthetic substitute was found in the 1800s. Almost everywhere in Chile, you will find jewelry and crafts that incorporate this stone. As is the case with gemstones, it is essential to shop in a reputable place. Blue Stone (Av. Costanera Norte 3863, Vitacura) in northeastern Santiago sells beautiful necklaces and bracelets, in which lapis is combined with silver. I was also impressed by the dramatic copper masks with lapis lazuli adornments.
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