A German silver-gilt mounted lapis lazuli cup. 17th century, apparently unmarked. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2012
The facetted circular bowl on spreading foot with baluster stem, the foot, stem and base applied with engraved foliage mounts, set inside the bowl with a silver-gilt finial engraved as a flower; 5 in. (12.8 cm.) high - Lot 247. Estimate £20,000 - £30,000 ($31,340 - $47,010). Price Realized £34,850 ($54,610)
Notes. Lapis Lazuli.
Lapis Lazuli is a blue rock made up of several different minerals, including lazurite, sodalite, hauyne, calcite and pyrite. The composition and colour of lapis lazuli varies, but it is the intense dark blue, with minor streaks of white calcite and brassy yellow shimmering pyrite, such as in the present example, that is considered the best quality. Found in Badakhshan Province in Northeast Afghanistan, the Sar-e-sang mine deposits have been worked for 6,000 years and are considered to produce the finest quality stone available, and it was material from this region that was used in the mask of Tutankhamen. Used in powdered form as eye-shadow by Cleopatra, lapis lazuli was the favoured stone for amulets and ornaments in ancient Egypt and when worn next to the skin is believed to protect the wearer from evil.
Christie's. Centuries of Style: Silver, European Ceramics, Portrait Miniatures and Gold Boxes. 30 - 31 May 2012. London, King Street