Along with malachite, Lapis Lazuli is one of the first treasured stones of human kind, and has been mined for over 7,000 years. Its name stems from the Latin word "lapis" meaning stone and from the Arabic word "azula" meaning blue. This treasured blue stone can be found throughout many ancient civilizations. Before a synthetic substitute was created, it was often ground and used as a pigment, making blue paint, "Ultramarine" the most expensive and valuable paint available. For this reason, blue paint was most often reserved for royalty and holy figures such as the Madonna. Much of the worlds Lapis Lazuli is mined from mountains in northern Afghanistan.