Lapis lazuli is most widely known for its use as a gemstone. It is a popular material for cutting into cabochons and beads. It is also used in inlay or mosaic projects and often as a material for small sculptures. These uses made lapis the most popular opaque blue gemstone. Lapis lazuli has been mined in Afghanistan and exported to the Mediterranean world and South Asia since the Neolithic age, along the ancient trade route between Afghanistan and the Indus Valley, dating to the 7th millennium BC.