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Labradorite Gemstone Information

Labradorite Gemstones
Natural Labradorite Gemstones

Introduction

There are few gemstones that display the 'play-of-color' phenomenon better than Labradorite, reds, blues, purples, yellows and more dance before your eyes as it turns in your hand but there is much more to discover about this rare beauty.

The Schiller effect, labradorescence, light interference, lattice distortions are some of the scientific explanations for flashes of color in Labradorite gemstones which we can go into later but perhaps the Inuit people of Labrador in Canada explain it best by saying that the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis were trapped within Labradorite rocks.

The story goes that a mighty Eskimo warrior freed the colors that dazzle the Polar skies with blows from his spear but could not break all the rocks leaving a number of Labradorite gemstones for us to collect then carve, polish and admire to this very day.

Labradorite Colors

Labradorite Colors
Labradorite Colors

It may come as a surprise but the varied colors displayed in a high quality Labradorite are not really present in the gemstone or a result of mineral impurities. Labradorite is made up of thin layers of different minerals and as light travels through these layers it breaks up the white light into all the colors of the rainbow which then bounce back, get deflected, get absorbed and flash before our eyes.

This is not a very common phenomenon and there a few different names for this exhibition, adularescence, labradorescence and aventurescence are long and difficult to say so someone come up with the 'Schiller effect' from an old German word meaning sparkle, twinkle or play-of-color.

Most Labradorite have a dark base color with blue, green, yellow or red the most likely colors to be on display. Gold, purple, teal, orange can also appear and the examples with strong color showing or a whole rainbow of colors are the most sought after.

Labradorite Species

Labradorite is a feldspar, the most plentiful mineral on earth, a mixture of silica and aluminum which makes up more than half of the Earth's crust.

The appearance of sodium (Albite) and calcium (Anorthite) in the right proportions mixed with the silicon and aluminum gives us Labradorite. Moonstone, Sunstone and Amazonite have very similar chemical compositions and are also types of feldspars.

Spectrolite
A trade name for a type of high quality colorful Labradorite that can only come from Finland. (Sometimes misspelt Spectralite)
Spectrolite Gemstones
Natural Spectrolite Gemstones
Andesine
A type of Labradorite that shares its chemical make-up but not its looks. Andesine (occasionally called Red Labradorite) is an orange to red gemstone usually facet cut and usually transparent.
Andesine Labradorite Gemstones
Natural Andesine Labradorite Gemstones
Sunstone
A transparent or translucent gemstone with glittery inclusions of hematite which comes in lovely yellow, orange and red colors and is also chemically very similar to Labradorite. There is an attractive Star Sunstone too.
Sunstone Gemstones
Natural Sunstone Gemstones
Rainbow Moonstone
Another variety of Labradorite which has a shimmering or iridescent quality with a blue glow.
Rainbow Moonstone Gemstones
Natural Rainbow Moonstone Gemstones

Labradorite Clarity and Cut

Gemstone Clarity

Gemstones usually fall into one of three categories of clarity with variations within that category. Opaque gemstones do not allow any light to pass through even if you hold it up to a light source. Translucent gemstones allow some light to shine through but you cannot clearly see through the gemstone. Transparent Gemstones allow light to pass through uninhibited so you can look through them and see objects or read words on the other side.

Technically, standard Labradorite can be described as opaque to translucent although to all intents and purposes it is an opaque gemstone. The play-of-color works best on a dark background but since the color seems to come from within the gemstone an almost translucent cover does enhance the look.

As it is basically an opaque gemstone, Labradorite is usually cut into rounded or domed shapes – called cabochons in the gems trade. The particular allure of this gemstone is its play-of-color which is produced by the light bouncing and scattering off the layers of different minerals which make up this stone. Cutting a Labradorite gemstone to capture this display at its best is a real challenge.

What is the spiritual meaning of Labradorite?

Known as a gemstone of transformation, Labradorite will be of great assistance to those going through changes in life whether by choice or circumstances. A new career or the loss of employment, moving home, a broken relationship or embarking on a healthy new lifestyle all involve stresses and commitment and a Labradorite gemstone will give you the strength to persevere and succeed.

Labradorite is an ideal workplace gemstone, it encourages communication, team work and commitment to the cause. It can make the work environment an enjoyable place to be, make customers feel welcome and generally improve company performance.

It is an emotionally positive gemstone, bringing enthusiasm to everyday life along with the simple joys of family, friends and surroundings. It will relieve the burdens of responsibility and allow you to appreciate what you have.

Labradorite and the Chakras

Chakra meditation

Chakras are the energy centers in your body also known as Qi or Prana. There are seven Chakras throughout the body each influencing a particular physical, emotional or mental state and each has an associated color. The seven chakras are as follows, Crown linked with the color purple, Third Eye (indigo), Throat (blue), Heart (green), Solar Plexus (yellow), Sacral (orange) and Root (red).

Sometimes in life our Chakras become unbalanced or blocked and need to be realigned or cleansed. One way to do this is through the use of Chakra healing stones. These stones or crystals are colored to correspond to individual chakras, red for the Root Chakra, orange for the Sacral, yellow for the Solar Plexus, green for the Heart, blue for the Throat, Indigo for the Third Eye and purple for the Crown Chakra.

Labradorite is often found in the deep blue range of colors and is generally connected to the Third Eye Chakra. If you are feeling lethargic, not so much physically as mentally, wondering what is the point of your life, being unable to make a decision and seeming to make the wrong judgment all the time then you may be experiencing a blocked Third Eye Chakra.

Alternatively this Chakra may be overactive and signs of this include daydreaming, bad nightmares, being negative about any new ideas, a Labradorite gemstone can give those daydreams a purpose by turning them into imaginative ideas, make the nightmares become visions of a bright future and open your mind to new experiences.

Labradorite does come in other colors and if the particular gemstone is predominantly yellow or red it will have influence on another of the Chakras.

Health Benefits of Labradorite

We are often asked how to use gemstones for spiritual or health benefits and while we are certainly not experts in this field we have gained some experience and knowledge. Of course wearing the gemstone as a piece of jewelry is the easiest way for the crystal to influence your body.

Alternatively they can be placed in your purse or pocket and used as a touchstone throughout the day. Hold crystals or place them in your lap while meditating. Easiest of all, just lay down with crystals on your body, lined up with the chakra points if possible.

There is no doubt that stress and depression is not just a mental issue, these ailments are a direct cause of many physical problems. Labradorite can attend to both stress and depression and thus be a great physical healing benefit.

In addition, Labradorite is thought to be of great help to the respiratory system, the metabolic and digestive system, symptoms of PMS and rheumatism, arthritis and gout as well as regulating high blood pressure.

Labradorite should be cleansed every two weeks to keep it at its maximum potential. You can do this by running the stone under tepid water and drying it in the sun for about an hour. The more natural the water, the better so spring water or rain water is perfect but tap water will suffice.

If you feel the Labradorite gemstone needs a bit of a boost or maybe a deep cleansing then try an earth bath. Dig a hole a few inches into the best natural soil you can find, place your gemstone directly in the soil, leave it for at least a day before retrieving it and cleaning with running water. It is a good idea to mark where you buried the gemstone!

Labradorite Price

How much does it cost?

Labradorite Price List

Color

Weight range

Price range / USD

Multicolor

1ct +

$0.5 - 4/ct

Labradorite come in a couple of different styles but let's look at the normal opaque to translucent gemstone with a dark background and a play-of-color display on the front. The first thing to consider when pricing this type of Labradorite is the color, bright and vivid iridescent colors like those seen on the feathers of a peacock are ideal and very valuable.

The more they flash as the gemstone is rotated the better and colors from the red and orange side of the rainbow are rarer and so more expensive. Of course if you can find a specimen displaying all the colors of the rainbow then you have a very special gemstone on your hands.

Labradorite are usually cut into rounded or dome shapes to best show off the iridescent color play and can come in almost any size, the large examples with lovely flashes of color are ideal for unique one-off jewelry pieces.

The transparent yellow Labradorite version is priced quite differently, following the guidelines of a more traditional faceted gemstone based on the 4Cs where color, clarity, cut and carat size determine the value.

Andesine, Spectrolite, Sunstone, Moonstone and Rainbow Moonstone are all part of the Labradorite Feldspar family but for pricing advice and details on them please visit their respective information pages on GemSelect.

Labradorite Discovery and History

History

Labradorite was known as fire stone or fire rock by the native Inuit people of Canada and was the subject of some legends and customs but it was not until 1770 that is was officially identified as Labradorite.

It was 'discovered' by Moravian missionaries on the Isle of Paul in Labrador (hence its name) who began to trade Labradorite gemstones with British merchants for vital supplies to ensure the mission's survival.

The spectacular Spectrolite was discovered in Finland by accident when soldiers were making obstacles for invading Russian tanks. While blowing up rocks with dynamite they discovered this brightly colored version of Labradorite.

Where is Labradorite found?

The Globe

Since its first discovery in the eastern province of Labrador in Canada, Labradorite has been found in a few more locations including Russia, Australia, Mexico, the US and Madagascar as well as the famous Spectrolite version in Finland.

How is Labradorite formed?

Labradorite is a type of feldspar. Feldspar is found all over the world in all types of rock formation, igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary. Feldspar is made up of silica and aluminum and forms in a number of ways, including crystallization of magma or lava, being subject to high temperatures and great pressure below the earth's surface or crushed together in sedimentary rock.

Rock Cycle

Labradorite is created when heat and pressure melt and mix various rocks and minerals. As the newly mixed materials slowly cool, the minerals separate into layers and this now, igneous rock, hardens with several inclusions. It is the layers that will later give the gemstone its shimmering color play.

This layering or lamellar separation only occurs with a particular mineral combination and so long as the rock cools over a very long time period. The wrong combination, or cooling too quickly, can create similar rocks but lack the shimmering play of color that identifies Labradorite gemstones.

Can Labradorite be treated?

As a general rule, standard opaque to translucent Labradorite is not treated in any way other than basic cutting and polishing into cabochons.

Other members of the wider Labradorite family such as Yellow Andesine can be diffused to enhance their appearance but rest assured if any gemstones sold by GemSelect receive any treatment we will always disclose this information.

What Jewelry is Labradorite suitable for?

Labradorite is rated at 6 – 6.5 on the Mohs Hardness scale meaning it is hard enough for most types of jewelry but a bit of care should be taken with items such as rings or bracelets which are exposed to more knocks and bumps than, say, earrings or pendants.

See our detailed article on the Mohs hardness scale right here

This relative softness does mean that Labradorite can be carved into interesting designs or engraved into intricate intaglios.

The availability of large and unique Labradorite gemstones in odd or fancy shapes makes them ideal for one-off designs or eye-catching artisan jewelry.

How to care for Labradorite

Labradorite gemstones should be stored inside a fabric-lined box or wrapped in a soft cloth. It is rated about 6 – 6.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, so they should be kept away from other gemstones and jewelry to ensure they do not get scratched by any harder gemstones or damage any that may be softer.

To clean, just wash in warm soapy water using a soft brush, rinse thoroughly and dry with a soft cloth, we do not recommend ultrasonic cleaners or steamers. It is a good idea to remove any jewelry before doing any physical activity such as sports, housework or gardening.

How can you tell a real Labradorite?

Is this gem real?

Obviously buying gemstones from a reputable dealer is the best approach but this is not always possible when you are searching the net or scouring the stores for a great gemstone or a bargain!

The first thing to do is familiarize yourself with some examples of Labradorite, either through pictures on the internet or at your local gem store so that, when you are thinking of buying one, you know what to look for.

The play-of-color display seen in a Labradorite is a unique phenomenon not seen in many other gemstones – Opals and Fire Agates have a similar optical effect but they are clearly different gemstones and cannot be confused with Labradorite.

Labradorite's flash of color will seem to come from within the gemstone (and on a microscopic level it does) and will change as you move it around. Fake gemstones will not have that change of color as the angles change. Labradorite will often look dull or gray at one angle the bright blue or red as it rotates, fakes will stay constantly colorful.

While they are not a very expensive, Labradorite is still a rare and sought after gemstone so anything offered too cheap should be a warning sign.

Labradorite is in an awkward spot on the hardness scale where it could be scratched by glass, a penknife or a steel nail but as they are all very similar in hardness this would not be any sort of help in checking authenticity.

This is not a complete guide on how to spot a real gemstone but I hope it helps.

At GemSelect, we stand by our gemstones as being as we describe them, any treatments are disclosed and our return policy means you can feel quite assured when ordering from us.

What is so special about Labradorite?

Labradorite is a magical gemstone. If you get the chance to hold a good example in your hand then turn it from side to side and see dazzling colors appear and disappear before your eyes you will see what I mean by magical.

A bright peacock blue will flash at the top and as it fades away a yellow mixed with orange will dance on the bottom right. Before the yellow has a change to dissolve the blue has returned but this time it is surrounded by a metallic green. By the way this flash is called Labradorescence as it really only occurs in this gemstone.

Every twist and turn produces something new and as you try to recapture that stunning image of a second ago you are distracted by a new and even more startling image.

Can Labradorite change color?

Can this gem change color?

Some gemstones show a distinct or dramatic change in color under different light sources. Look at a garnet under electric or artificial light and it could look red, take it outside into the sunlight and all of a sudden it is green!

This remarkable effect only occurs in a few gemstones, Alexandrite, Garnet and some Sapphires being the most well known and although Labradorite gemstones do display a remarkable play-of-color effect they are NOT considered a color-change gemstone.

Labradorite - Gemological Properties

Chemical Formula:

NaAlASi3O8 to CaAl2Si2O8 Sodium calcium aluminum silicate

Crystal Structure:

Triclinic; platy, prismatic

Color:

Dark grey to grey-black, with colorful iridescence. Also colorless, orange-red and brownish

Hardness:

6 - 6.5 on the Mohs scale

Refractive Index:

1.559 - 1.570

Density:

2.65 - 2.75

Cleavage:

Perfect

Transparency:

Transparent to opaque

Double Refraction or Birefringence:

0.008 to 0.010

Luster:

Vitreous

Fluorescence:

Yellow striations

  • First Published: February-06-2020
  • Last Updated: February-24-2020
  • © 2005-2020 GemSelect.com all rights reserved.
    Reproduction (text or graphics) without the express written consent of GemSelect.com (SETT Company Ltd.) is strictly prohibited.
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Gems are always measured in Millimeter (mm)

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Select gems by size, not by weight!
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