These unique sterling silver cufflinks feature a flat, circular blue lapis lazuli stone in the center. A traditional Greek key pattern trims the edges.
925 degree sterling silver
Made in Greece
In art and architecture, a meander is a decorative border constructed from a continuous line, shaped into a repeated motif. Such a design is also called the Greek Fret or Greek Key design, although these are modern words. The name "meander" recalls the twisting and turning path of the Maeander River. Meanders were among the most important symbols in ancient Greece; they, perhaps, symbolized infinity and unity; many ancient Greek temples incorporated the sign of the meander.
Lapis Lazuli is a semi-precious stone prized since antiquity for its intense blue color. It has been mined for 6,500 years, and the best lapis is found in limestone in the Kokcha River valley of Badakhshan province in northeastern Afghanistan. These deposits in the mines of Sar-e-Sang have been worked for more than 6,000 years. Badakhshan was the source of lapis for the ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations, as well as the later Greek and Roman; during the height of the Indus valley civilization about 2000 B.C., the Harappan colony now known as Shortugai was established near the lapis mines.
The historical trade of the stone is ancient enough for lapis jewelry to have been found at Predynastic Egyptian sites, and lapis beads at neolithic burials in Mehrgarh, the Caucasus, and even as far from Afghanistan as Mauritania. In ancient times, the stone was sometimes used for decorating temples.
Lapis lazuli is a rock, not a mineral, and is composed mostly of lazurite, as well as a feldspathoid silicate mineral composed of sodium, aluminium, silicon, oxygen, sulfur, and chloride. Most lapis lazuli also contains calcite (white), sodalite (blue), and pyrite (metallic yellow). Other possible constituents are augite, diopside, enstatite, mica, hauynite, hornblende and nosean. Some contain trace amounts of the sulfur rich lollingite variety geyerite, but it usually occurs in crystalline marble as a result of contact metamorphism.
The stone is becoming increasingly rare and its price rises steadily. It now costs more than gold and is the only opaque stone, apart from turquoise, sold by the carat (provided the quality is good). While some stones are values greater if they contain no blemmishes, golden threads in no way diminish the value of lapis stone. In fact, it is the means by which it may be identified. Lapis lazuli may be confused with sodalite, which has no golden threads, or blue aventurine, which has a schiller.
*The finest color is intense blue, lightly dusted with small flecks of golden pyrite (*as featured in this particular item). Patches of pyrite are an important help in identifying the stone as genuine and do not detract from its value. Lapis takes an excellent polish and can be made into jewelry, carvings, boxes, mosaics, ornaments and vases. In architecture it has been used for cladding the walls and columns of palaces and churches. It was also ground and processed to make the pigment ultramarine for tempera paint and, more rarely, oil paint. Its usage as a pigment in oil paint ended in the early 19th century as a chemically identical synthetic variety, often called French Ultramarine, became available.
In ancient Egypt lapis lazuli was a favorite stone for amulets and ornaments such as scarabs; it was also used by the Assyrians and Babylonians for seals. Lapis jewelry has been found at excavations of the Predynastic Egyptian site Naqada (3300–3100 BC), and powdered lapis was used as eyeshadow by Cleopatra. As inscribed in the 140th chapter of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, lapis lazuli, in the shape of an eye set in gold, was considered an amulet of great power. On the last day of the month, an offering was made before this symbolic eye, for it was believed that, on that day, the supreme being placed such an image on his head.
In ancient times, lapis lazuli was known as sapphire, which is the name that is used today for the blue corundum variety sapphire. It appears to have been the sapphire of ancient writers because Pliny refers to sapphirus as a stone sprinkled with specks of gold. A similar reference can be found in the Hebrew Bible in Job 28:6. The Romans believed that lapis was a powerful aphrodisiac. In the Middle Ages, it was thought to keep the limbs healthy, and free the soul from error, envy and fear. It was once believed that lapis had medicinal properties. It was ground down, mixed with milk and applied as a dressing for boils and ulcers.
Many of the blues in painting from medieval Illuminated manuscripts to Renaissance panels were derived from lapis lazuli. Ground into a powder, and processed to remove impurities and isolate, the component lazurite, it forms the pigment ultramarine. This clear, bright blue, which was one of the few available to painters before the 19th century, cost a princely sum. As tempera painting was superseded by the advent of oil paint in the Renaissance, painters found that the brilliance of ultramarine was greatly diminished when it was ground in oil and this, along with its cost, led to a steady decline in usage. Since the synthetic version of ultramarine was discovered in the 19th century (along with other 19th century blues, such as cobalt blue), production and use of the natural variety has almost ceased, though several pigment companies still produce it and some painters are still attracted to its brilliance and its romantic history.