Intensely deep blue in color, lapis lazuli, or lapis, has been valued as an ornamental stone since the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Rome—which valued it more highly than sapphires and turquoise. A rock composed of three different minerals, the finest lapis still comes from a remote mountain valley in northern Afghanistan, where it has been continuously mined for more than 6,000 years.
One of the most abundant minerals in the Earth's crust, quartz displays the greatest profusion of colors, patterns, and textures of any mineral. Gems cut from individual quartz crystals include amethyst, smoky quartz, rock crystal, citrine, and rose quartz. Finely grained quartz, which ranges from translucent to opaque, is typically carved or cut as cabochons or beads.