The stone has been mined in a certain area of Afghanistan for 6,500 years. The stone has been found in areas of predynasty Egypt and Neolithic burial grounds in what is now Pakistan. In ancient times, the stone was called sapphire. Egyptians used it extensively for carvings of the sacred scarab beetle, and as amulets that utilized the mystical powers the stone was believed to have. Cleopatra used the ground stone as eye shadow. Ancient Romans used it for jewelry, mosaics and thought the stone was an aphrodisiac. During medieval and renaissance times the stone was used to decorate churches and royal palaces. Vases and other objects were made from it. Deep blue color in paintings before the 19th century was probably ground lapis lazuli which was used to make the color ultramarine. The ground stone was also mixed with milk and used as a compress for boils and ulcers.
In some parts of the world the stone is known as the stone of friendship. It is one of the earliest known stones used for jewelry and decoration. The intense blue, highlighted by flecks of gold, have kept it a very popular gemstone for thousands of years.