Lapis lazuli is a stone famous for its vibrant blue color. It has been utilized since times of antiquity as body jewelry and for decorative purposes – lapis was even used in the Egyptian king Tutankhamun’s burial mask. The ancient Egyptians believed the stone offered protection and considered it a symbol of truth. People of other cultures wore lapis jewelry, from necklaces to labrets, in order to clear the mind and focus during meditation. Considered one of the birthstones for December, lapis is composed of mostly lazurite, calcite, and sodalite, and, besides being used for jewelry and as a protective stone in ancient times, it was also ground into a fine powder. The resulting pigment, called ultramarine, was commonly made into paints and clothing dye, especially for royalty and holy figures. As lapis is a softer stone, it is common for craftsmen to carve symbols and designs into a larger piece of lapis jewelry. Many people throughout history have even carried lapis lazuli talismans carved into the shape of powerful animals, used as symbols of protection. Today, the eye-popping blue of lapis lazuli is still used in charm and body jewelry crafts, including custom plugs for stretched ears.