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The Silicate Minerals


Lazurite is the important mineral in lapis lazuli, a gemstone prized since ancient times. Its formula is Na3CaSi3Al3O12S. (more below)
Sodium aluminum sulfur silicate
Photo (c) 2006 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)
Lapis lazuli generally consists of lazurite and calcite, although bits of other minerals like pyrite and sodalite may be present as well. Lazurite is also known as ultramarine from its use as a brilliant blue pigment. Ultramarine was once more precious than gold, but today it is easily manufactured, and the natural mineral is used today only by purists, restorers, forgers and art maniacs.

Lazurite is one of the feldspathoid minerals. This is a group of minerals that form instead of feldspar when there is either not enough silica or too much alkali (calcium, sodium, potassium) and aluminum to fit into feldspar's molecular structure. The sulfur atom in its formula is unusual. Its Mohs hardness is 5.5. Lazurite forms in metamorphosed limestones, which accounts for the presence of calcite. Afghanistan is the source of the finest specimens.

Other Metamorphic Minerals

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