By Ashley Davis
Jamie Joseph’s 22-karat yellow gold ring with lapis and white diamond ($3,730)
Jamie Joseph’s 22-karat yellow gold ring with lapis and white diamond ($3,730)

New York--When Pantone predicts seasonal color trends, it occasionally delivers jewelers a softball with a hue plucked straight from the gemstone world.

The color forecasting company crowned rose quartz one of two “colors of the year” for 2016 and in 2013, the honor went to emerald. Recently, it deemed lapis as one of 10 shades that will be big for spring 2017.

For designers, this can provide a great marketing angle in coming months, though lapis lazuli has long been a beloved material.

“It has such a regal and ancient feel to it,” said designer Pamela Love. “Recently, our customers have really seemed to gravitate toward the pieces with lapis we have produced."

"Something about lapis is exotic and regal, the color is just so rich,” agreed designer Jacquie Aiche. “It’s a stone of wisdom, so I think people are drawn to that as well."

Many designers noted the historic import of the gemstone, which counts an appearance on Tutankhamun’s funeral mask, adorning the young pharaoh’s eyes and eyebrows, as one of its most iconic moments.

“There are so many historical associations with lapis,” said emerging fine jeweler Liz Phillips.

“You see it used so much in ancient art, particularly Egyptian jewelry and decorative arts, and also in beautiful ‘pietra dure’ inlay work from the Italian Renaissance and also Mughal India.”

Lapis’ vivid hue, which is oftentimes included with specks of other minerals, is the primary reason the stone figures in so many designers’ oeuvres, they said.

Andrea Fohrman explained, “I am obsessed with all gemstones that are blue and lapis has such an incredible deep color with flecks of gold; it pairs well with almost anything. My use of lapis with turquoise and opal is my favorite way to combine this stone.”

Jamie Joseph added, “I prefer lapis with intense blue color. These are the ones I love using most, and especially the pieces that include the pyrite splatter.”

“We decided to work in lapis because we wanted to incorporate stones and color into our line,” said Smith + Mara designers Sara Smith and Mara Rothbart. “We love the deep, dark blue with flecks of gold--it helps bring out the gold in the jewelry and adds a beautiful accent to the design.”

For London-based designer Pippa Small, lapis has taken on an important role in her life. Small works with Turquoise Mountain, an organization that aims to revive traditional Afghani crafts.

Afghanistan is the greatest source of lapis, and the stone is prominently featured in the jewelry that Small helps Afghani artisans design and produce through Turquoise Mountain.

“Lapis lazuli is the national stone of a troubled country that has come to mean so much to me,” said Small, who has worked with Turquoise Mountain for nine years and travels to Kabul regularly.

Small continued, “(Lapis was) once traded across the world on ancient silk routes, and now is being used to help the struggling jewelry industry in war-torn Afghanistan.”

Below, find a sampling of the stone’s many visual possibilities.

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