Labradorite – A Uniquely Magical Gemstone

labradorite polished loose stone

Labradorite is an instantly recognizable stone with a stunning sheen and gorgeous play of colors. It’s beautiful color and flashes of light is so spectacular that the Inuit people believed that the stone was the Northern Lights captured in the rocks.

Labradorite has been used for centuries in jewelry-making, and is a popular gemstone. It is growing in popularity as more and more people turn towards spectacular natural gemstones for their jewelry.

If you’re interested in adding a labradorite into your jewelry collection, keep reading! We cover everything you need to know before you buy labradorite.

 What Is Labradorite?

 labradorite large loose gemstone

Labradorite is a member of the plagioclase feldspar group of gemstones and is found in igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks.

It was originally discovered in Labrador, Canada, from where it received its name (and just for the record, it has no connection to the dog breed Labrador). However, today, Madagascar is the most abundant source of labradorites. Some other regions where labradorite is mined are Norway, Finland, Russia, Sri Lanka, and Australia.

There are three subcategories of labradorite:

Spectrolite: This refers to labradorite that displays a rainbow spectrum of colors. It is quite a rare variety and is found in Finland.

Rainbow Moonstone: This has a strong blue iridescent luster, known as schiller. Found in Madagascar, the Rainbow Moonstone is also known as the Madagascar Moonstone.

Andesine – Labradorite: This is a treated variety of labradorite where the color of the stone is enhanced.

What Is Labradorescence?

Labradorescence is the term given to the distinct iridescence of high quality labradorite gemstones.

Labradorite has a dark body tone but it is the iridescence that gives the stone its dynamic, lively nature. The reason a labradorite displays its flashes of color is due to the structure of its formation. Labradorite forms in layers of rock. When light is diffracted from these layers, the colors shine through. Common colors of labradorite are blue, brown, fiery orange well as rainbow.

This characteristic of labradorite is a distinguishing factor of the gemstone. However, many labradorites do not display labradorescence and it can be difficult to tell them apart from other plagioclase minerals. However, these may still be valued for exhibiting a beautiful color or for having aventurescence, which refers to the blue or white sheen that the stone displays when viewed from different angles.

Evaluating Labradorite Color

labradorite pendant

The body tone of labradorite is usually gray, black or dark brown with labradorescence of greens, blues, and purples. Spectrolite displays the Schiller effect with flashes of colors such as blue, green, red, orange and yellow.

Interestingly, the colors displayed by a labradorite are not actually present in the stone, as in most other colored gemstones. Instead, it is the effect of light reacting with the imperfections within the mineral.

Labradorite Clarity

When it comes to gemstones, inclusions or impurities found within the stone are often seen as flaws and devalues the gemstone. However, for labradorites, it is the miniscule impurities that allow its play of color. As the light hits the layers of tiny impurities, it allows the spectral colors to show.

Most labradorite stones are opaque to translucent, but there are also transparent varieties. Opaque labradorites don’t display as much labradorescence. For this reason, translucent stones are highly sought after.  Transparent labradorites are not very desirable as they do not display the distinguishing labradorescence.

Choosing Labradorite Cut

If labradorites are cut expertly and carefully, the iridescence can be maximized. As the stone is made up of layers of rock, the stone needs to be carefully cut so that the full color is displayed face-up and center.

Labradorites are generally cut into beaded cabochons with smooth domes. If the labradorite is transparent, it is usually faceted to enhance sparkle. You will typically find labradorite cut into rounds, ovals, pears and marquise and not so much in angular cuts.

Labradorite Carat Weight

Labradorites can be found in many sizes. Because it is an affordable stone, the size does not affect value as much as some other gemstones. The size you choose depends on your preferences.

Most retailers highlight the width and length of the labradorite, i.e. the size, rather than the carat weight. This gives you an exact measurement of the stone’s size. This is a more helpful way to measure gemstones because carat weight is relative to the density of the stone, which varies from gemstone to gemstone.

Enhanced or Treated Labradorite

There are currently no known enhancements or treated varieties of labradorite on the market. This means that any labradorite you buy is a naturally mined gemstone.

Labradorite Jewelry

Labradorite lends itself well to most jewelry applications. It can energize your wardrobe and add an intriguing play of color to your look. Labradorite looks beautiful set in any metal type, but is especially attractive and prominent when set in yellow or rose gold. These metal colors perfectly complement the bluish-greenish hues of labradorite for a classy, chic look.

 labradorite necklace

Because it is an affordable gemstone, buying labradorite costume jewelry is not very expensive. It makes for intriguing large pieces, especially statement necklaces and large cocktail rings.

A great way to highlight your labradorite is through a classy pair of earrings. Whether you go for dangle earrings or simple studs, these will suit any occasion and add a touch of sophistication to your outfit.

Labradorite dangle earrings are ideal for dressy evening occasions because they catch and play with light beautifully. This feature gives that extra sparkle and sheen to your look.

labradorite pendant close up

If pendants are more your thing, labradorite pendants are ideal for daily jewelry. Choose a small pendant for daily casual or work wear to complete your outfit.

Some couples, who wish to be unique, may consider a labradorite engagement ring. This is truly a unique and beautiful choice, and with proper care a labradorite engagement ring can last a very long time.

Although labradorite is a relatively soft gemstone, it is quite tough and maintains its luster over time. To ensure that your labradorite engagement ring lasts through the years,  choose a protective setting such as bezel, halo or flush settings to minimize damage to the stone. And even if the stone does get damaged, replacing it should not be too difficult or costly.

Labradorite Durability

Labradorite only ranks at 6 – 6.5 on the Mohs scale which is softer than quartz. This means that it can be scratched quite easily, even by dust (quartz is a major component of dust).

However, labradorite is quite tough and durable, and is not brittle. This means that it doesn’t crack or break as some other soft gemstones do.

It is a good idea to have labradorite set in protective settings, especially when used in rings to protect from exposure. Earrings and pendants are relatively safe, due to their more protected location.

Cleaning and Caring for Labradorite

To ensure that your labradorite is shining and lustrous through the years, regular cleaning is recommended. Avoid using ultrasonic or steam cleaners when cleaning labradorite. Instead, use soap and warm water with a soft brush to wash the stone. Once washed, rinse labradorite jewelry in water and dry it thoroughly.

When storing labradorite, wrap in a cotton or velvet cloth and store separately. This keeps it free from dust and from being scratched by other items.

Keep your labradorite away from chemicals such as harsh detergents, bleach and cosmetics. It is always better to take off labradorite jewelry when applying makeup and when doing household or outdoor activities that will expose it to chemicals.

Labradorite Lore and Symbolism

 

labradorite polished loose stoneLabradorites are so beautiful with their colorful magical sheen, that the Inuit peoples believed that they were the Northern Lights captured in rocks.

Labradorite is believed to be a powerful and magical gemstone that can give the wearer intuitive powers and promote psychic abilities. It is also thought to strengthen the imagination and to calm fears and insecurities as well as to relieve stress. It enhances your confidence and sense of worth and for a person with an overactive imagination, labradorite is calming and provides balance.

Labradorite is said to protect you from negativity and ill-will while bringing out the positive aspects of your character. It is also said to aid in improving the work environment by reducing tension among colleagues and fostering collegiality.

Some believe that labradorite can aid with certain physical illnesses such as colds, respiratory issues, menstrual pain and helps with digestion and metabolism.

In ancient Hindu beliefs, labradorite is connected to the Throat Chakra, which is also called Vishuddha, meaning purification. This Chakra is associated with expression and communication, so wearing labradorite fosters these qualities and assists in maintaining the health of the Throat Chakra.

Where Can I Buy a Labradorite Jewelry?

It may be difficult to find labradorite in most physical stores because, although extremely beautiful, this is not yet a mainstream gemstone. Taking your search online will give you endless options to choose from.

Many beautiful labradorite jewelry pieces can be found on artisan stores such as Etsy and Novica. Before you buy, ensure that the retailer is reputable and communicates with you effectively and honestly about their jewelry. Always check the actual images of the gemstone to make sure it is what you’re looking for. After all, every single piece of labradorite is unique and no two pieces are the same.