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The history of Ultramarine Blue

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PRODUCTS · PRODUCT RANGE · ULTRAMARINES · ultramarine blue

the history of Ultramarine Blue


Ultramarine Blue hailing from lapislazuli, a semi-precious stone containing the blue component lazurite, was already used in prehistoric times.

Lapislazuli was probably the first known blue; Egyptians used it as a precious gem to make their jewels and ornaments (3500 years BC).

Perhaps the earliest discoveries in paints using lapislazuli as a blue pigment were found in mural paintings unearthed in Bamiyan (Afghanistan) in the 6th or 7th centuries AC.

The lapislazuli stone from Northern Afghanistan was introduced in Europe by Marco Polo who, on one of his trips (1270-1292) and after visiting Afghanistan’s mines, saw its trade potential.

The process to extract the lazurite blue component from the stone was very lengthy and costly.

Although the unique color of the pigment was highly desirable, at the same time its distant origin, scarcity and lengthy purification process made it available to very few people and it was as valuable as gold during the 18th century.

Synthetic production of Ultramarine Blue began in the 19th century. As unlimited quantities could be manufactured at a much lower cost, Ultramarine Blue consumption increased dramatically.


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