Today I wanted to talk a little about the magnificent Lapis Lazuli from South America, The Chilean Stone. In Lapis Lazuli Chile I will talk about the other famous mines after the afghan mines. On how they have a similar history with ancient civilizations and with actual illegal mining. Enjoy!!
A discovering of a stone in 1921 with an arrow tip made of Lapis Lazuli near the Ovalle Cordillera helped discover that this rock was also known in prehistoric America by the Indian Diaguitas and other pre-Colombian cultures.
Saved from Wikipedia. Diaguita Ruins at Ovalle
The Diaguita Indians in the 4th century found Lapis Lazuli in Ovalle Cordillera, Coquimbo, Chile. They used lapis beads for necklaces with styles that are still used in modern fashion trends like we can appreciate in Nammu.com.
The Diaguita Indians were an aboriginal group. They were also sophisticated artists. Specializing on metal and ceramic work using Lapis Lazuli.
The Incas expanded their empire near the mountains of Lapis Lazuli during the 15th and 16th century. Inca Tupac Yupanqui, grandfather of Huascar and Atahualpa advanced in lands of the “Araucanos”, the “Mollense” and the “Diaguita” whose women adorned themselves with Lapis Lazuli beads from Tulalwen.
Numerous pre-Inca civilizations also used Lapis jewelry and adornments. The Incas, Molles and Diaguitas and other pre-colombian cultures also have used lapis for thousands of years to ornament masks and other artifacts.
Chile supplied all the ancient civilizations of the area from Ecuador to Maule.
In 1850, F. Field published the existence of Chilean Lapis Lazuli.
The actual location of this precious stone in the South American continent is in the Ovalle Cordillera at 3600 above sea level east of Tulalwen at the Monte Patria commune. It is only 200mts from the Argentinean border.
Flor de los Andes
There are three mining concessions in these mountains. Flor de los Andes is the oldest concession established 1952 and is controlled by the company Las Flores de los Andes S.A. .
It was in 1950 when it begun commercial mining. The company built a 60km access road in 1989 that allowed for the transport of machinery to the mine on order to start the extraction of material in larger quantities.
Due to the extreme conditions this site can only be mined during the Chilean summer that is January to April.
Its incredible how although the mines from Chile and Afghanistan have incredible rough climate conditions, people still manage to risk there lives for this magical stone.
San Marcelo and La Seguridad
In 1995 a group of Chilean companies consolidated to form Compañia Minera LapisChile S.A. which now controls the other two concessions San Marcelo and La Seguridad.
The National Service of Geology and Minery of Chile informs that there hasn’t been Lapis Lazuli production since 2010. On 2006 it reached its peak with 400 tons and in 2009, the last year of activity it produced 215 tons of lapis.
The main reason the company stopped producing is the illegal mining. The organized crime syndicates took charge of the area. They even use part of the camps and infrastructure of the company. An important percentage of lapis sales in Chile come from this illegal mining and contraband. A small percentage comes also from what’s left of the company that can still work.
Sales of Lapis Lazuli on Chile are above the USD2million monthly.
Nowadays Lapis Lazuli is also employed on the creation of jewelry especially in Chile. Chile also exports great quantities to Europe and the United States.
The Ministry of Mining declared Lapis Lazuli Chiles National Stone on November 23 of 1984 under decree 62.The FIFA World Cup Jules Rimet also had a Lapis Lazuli base. It was stolen in Brazil in 1983 and was never found Click To Tweet
The Chilean Lapis is formed by the metasomatic introduction of sulfur into impure limestone.
Four-category quality scheme used to grade Chilean Lapis Lazuli:
- –First Quality material: Dark Blue to ultramarine blue lazurite with no gray calcite. Finely dispersed pyrite may be present.
- –Second Quality material: Dark blue to medium blue lazurite. Significant amount of white spots and specks of pyrite and also minor gray calcite.
- –Third Quality material: Deep Blue to pale blue lazurite. Appreciable amounts of gray and white minerals and also small quantities of pyrite.
- –Fourth quality material: Subordinates amount of lazurite tones of blue, it also has gray calcite.
Lapis Chile uses different categories for their products. LapisChile sells most of its products as finished jewelry and ornaments. Unlike Flor de los Andes that sell its product mostly by kilos of raw material and also prepared pigment.
Most carvers and jewelry manufacturers will not use pieces of lapis with less than 70% lazurite. Material with less than 50% lazurite is used only for construction material as slabs, countertops or tiles.
The Chilean craftsmen also make penguin, condors, pendants, necklaces, spheres, etc. All these beautiful lapis objects are very coveted by the thousands of tourists that each day walk through Santiago de Chile looking for lapis.
Although the difficulties to acquire this magnificent stone on both the largest mines world wide, it is proven that people will go to extreme lengths even risking their lives to own this precious stone.
Thankfully we don’t have to take these risks. Only contact Nammu.com and acquire this exquisite stone.