Labradorite

Labradorite is an unusual mineral with an amazing optical effect, correctly known as labradorescence. At certain angles, light refracts from inclusions or cracks under the surface of the stone, causing a colourful glow.

Colours can include yellow, green, blue, aqua, gold, and purples. It is almost always sold polished, as the colour comes out better when the stone has been cut and polished to display it.

Labradorite is very popular with modern jewellery makers. Numerous Eastern cutters make some quite large cabochons, which are great for wire wrapping. In rare cases, Labradorite is faceted – but this is absolutely not the norm.

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Appearance

 

Labradorite is a mineral which occurs in a few different colours, most commonly a dark green-grey.
It has a flash of colour referred to as labradorescence, which can result in bright flashes of colour, most often greens, blues, and yellows. There is more information on the varieties of Labradorite below, in our Mineralogy section.


Uses and History

 

Labradorite was first discovered in Labrador, Canada, which is where the name comes from.

The material was apparently discovered by a Morovian missionary in 1770, but not much information about this event is available.

Labradorite is almost exclusively used as a decorative stone. It is very popular with jewellers, especially in the ‘wire wrapping’ style. It is also cut, carved, and polished – in some cases, it is used for larger decorative pieces, like worktops.


Locales

 

Africa:

  • Madagascar – Tulear Province

Asia:

  • Myanmar – Mandalay Region

Europe:

  • Finland – South Karelia (Spectrolite)
  • Ukraine – Zhytomyr

South America:

  • Brazil – Minas Gerais

Antarctica:

Australia and Oceania:

  • Australia – New South Wales

North America:

  • Canada – Labrador – type locale!
  • Canada – Quebec
  • USA – New York – Adirondack Mountains
  • USA – Ohio
  • USA – Texas
  • USA – Utah

Mineralogy

 

Chemistry
Labradorite is a plagioclase feldspar comprised of Albite and Anorthite. Some authorities consider Labradorite as a sodium rich variant of Anorthite.
It’s chemical formula is (Ca,Na)Al1-2Si3-2O8.
Colours and Variations
  • Labradorite is usually a dark green-grey, or dark grey stone, with a bright flash of colours – usually blues and greens, with occasional yellow-gold and sometimes other colours.
  • Spectrolite has a darker base colour, which causes a larger range of colours than most other Labradorite. Spectrolite is only found in Finland – although many sellers refer to any Labradorite with a broader colour spectrum as Spectrolite.
  • Golden Labradorite / Bytownite is a transparent variant with a golden colour – it is usually sold tumbled or cut.
  • Andesine is the name given to an artifically treated Feldspar mineral.
Streak
White
Luster
Sub-vitreous
Fracture
Uneven to conchoidal.
Crystal habit
Labradorite usually occurs in massive grainy forms, but can occur as tabular crystals.
Mohs hardness
6 – 6.5
Cleavage
Perfect
Specific Gravity
2.68 to 2.72
Easiest testing method
It can be a little difficult for beginners to distinguish between Labradorite, Spectrolite, and Larvikite. Knowing the locale can help – true Spectrolite is only found in Finland, but many Madagascan pieces are sold as Spectrolite too.
Larvikite is a grey-black stone with thumbnail sized flashes of white and blue, so it should be relatively easy to distinguish from the more colourful Labradorite. If you are in doubt, Larvikite does have a slightly lower specific gravity.

Photos of Labradorite

Labrador (złoty i niebieski) z Magaskaru

A polished piece showing a bright golden colour.

Labrador (spektrolit) - Ylamaa, Finlandia.

A polished piece of Finnish Spectrolite showing
a bright blue and golden colour.

Labradorite other angle

An oddly banded polished ‘freeform’.

LabradoriteOslo

A rough piece of Spectrolite from Finland.

Labradoryt1 Madagaskar

A polished piece from Madagascar.

Labradorite from Madagascar

A polished piece from Madagascar
Purple colourations this bright are considered uncommon.


A wire wrapped Copper necklace made by Wire Witchcraft

Hazards and Warnings

Almost all rocks, minerals (and, frankly, almost all other substances on earth) can produce toxic dust when cutting, which can cause serious respiratory conditions including silicosis.
When cutting or polishing rocks, minerals, shells, etc, all work should be done wet to minimise the dust, and a suitable respirator or extraction system should be used.


Translations

Arabic:

  • اللابرادوريت
Hindi:
Portuguese:
Bengali:

Indonesian:

  • spektrolit
Punjabi:

English:

  • labradorite
  • spectrolite
Italian:

Russian:

  • спектролит
  • Лабрадорит
French:

Japanese:

  • ラブラドライト
  • スペクトロライト
  • ラブラドル長石

Spanish:

  • labradorita
  • espectrolita

German:

  • labradorit
  • Spektrolit
  • Carnatit
  • Mauilit
  • Radauit
  • Silicit
  • Spectrolith
  • Spektrolith

Korean:

  • 조회 장석
  • 스펙트로 라이트
Thai:

Gujurati:

  • લેબ્રાડોરાઇટ

Mandarin Chinese:

  • 拉長石
  • 光譜石
  • 拉长石
  • 变彩拉长石

Urdu:

  • لیبراڈورائٹ

Further Reading / External Links