Labradorite

saf-ahyuh r

Labradorite is a plagioclase feldspar. The phenomenal variety that shows labradorescence is the best-known variety, but rainbow moonstone, Oregon sunstone, and transparent yellow labradorite are also labradorite feldspars. Displaying brilliant pastels and deep golden colors, phenomenal labradorite features a spellbinding "black rainbow" of color. When appreciating the iridescent play of colors known as labradorescence, observe the strength and intensity by viewing from different angles, as different colors or even a range of colors may be visible from different positions. Rainbow moonstone has the best transparency of all the moonstone varieties. Labradorite sunstone is the only sunstone variety that contains copper platelets. The large sizes and clarity of yellow labradorite makes it a favorite of gemcutters.

Labradorite Polished
Labradorite Classification
Common Name Labradorite
Species Feldspar
Labradorite Optical Properties
Transparency Semitransparent - Translucent
Refractive Index 1.554-1.574 Tolerance: (+0.005/-0.005)
Birefringence 0.006- 0.012
Optic Character Biaxial
Optic Sign Positive
Polariscope Reaction Doubly Refractive (DR)
Fluorescence SWUV: Inert to weak white
LWUV: Inert to weak white
Pleochroism Dichroic, colorless and light yellow
Labradorite Characteristic Physical Properties
Hardness 6-6.5
Streak White
Specific Gravity 2.650-2.750 Typical: 2.700
Toughness Poor
Inclusions Stones might show repeated twinning, black magnetite needle like inclusions, ilmenite, and metallic platelets that might be hematite. Oregon material will contain tiny orangy yellow copper platelets.
Luster Vitreous
Stability Good
Fracture Uneven, Splintery
Cleavage Perfect, in two directions
Labradorite Chemistry & Crystallography
Chemical Name calcium or sodium silicate
Chemical Formula NaAlSi3O8 or CaAl2Si2O8
Crystal System Triclinic
Chemistry Classification Silicate

Labradorite Colors

  • Black Labradorite Black
  • Yellow Labradorite Yellow
  • Red Labradorite Red
  • Gray Labradorite Gray
  • Green Labradorite Green
  • Brown Labradorite Brown
  • Colorless Labradorite Colorless
  • White Labradorite White

Alternate Names

Spectrolite

Countries of Origin

Myanmar; Cameroon; Papua New Guinea; Paraguay; Portugal; Greece; Mongolia; El Salvador; Korea (the Republic of); Morocco; Unknown; Brazil; Chile; Nepal; Tonga; United States of America (the); Hungary; Japan; Ukraine; Taiwan (Province of China); India; New Zealand; Canada; Namibia; Finland; Italy; Peru; Ethiopia; Germany; Tanzania, United Republic Of; Czechia; Egypt; Madagascar; Thailand; Costa Rica; Saudi Arabia; Sweden; Pakistan; China; Russian Federation (the); Poland; Slovakia; France; Kyrgyzstan; United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the); Dominican Republic (the); Spain; Cuba; Saint Lucia; Norway; Mexico; Israel; Greenland; Tajikistan; Indonesia

History

Labradorite exhibits that same compelling rainbow of light-against-darkness. It displays breathtaking color. Labradorite is a sanidine feldspar. The beautiful rainbows that it emits have a metallic-like iridescence that is called labradorescence. This is caused by the interference and refraction of light as it enters and passes through the stone. Blues and greens dominate, but look closely and you'll see reds, yellows and oranges frolicking in the light.

Care

Clean with warm water and gentle soap; dry thoroughly with a soft cloth. Do not use ultrasonic cleaners and avoid harsh chemicals. Labradorite is a 6 - 6 ½ on the Mohs scale. It is seldom treated but may occasionally be oiled.

Related Videos

More About Labradorite

It's unique. It's color-rich. Wonderful legends have grown up around this stone. Some people believe that labradorite will help you become the person that you are meant to be. An Inuit tale says that, a very long time ago, the Northern Lights fell from the sky and were trapped inside some rocks off the coast of Labrador. An Inuit warrior, seeing the trapped lights, tried to release them. He struck the rocks again and again with his spear, but try as he might, he couldn't release them all. According to the legend, some of the lights remain trapped in the beautiful stones that are labradorite. The next time you wear a piece of labradorite jewelry, imagine that you are wearing your very own piece of the Northern Lights. It's a lovely vision.

Sisk Gemology Reference

Showcasing 200 gemstones in over 1,000 pages and accompanied by more than 2,000 photos, The Sisk Gemology Reference is a must-have in every collector’s library. Each comprehensive, three-volume set features state-of-the-art photography, detailed illustrations, and scientifically precise descriptions to create an entrancing experience for gemstone amateurs and afficionados alike.

Shop Now

 

Species/Variety

Yellow Labradorite

Transparent yellow labradorite is a favorite of lapidaries. Crystals can be quite large and can yield gems over 15 carats. The material is perfect for fantasy and specialty cuts. Yellow labradorite can be found in Mexico, Oregon, and Ethiopia. The Mexican material is found at the foot of the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range. The Oregon and the Ethiopian material is called sunstone when it contains copper platelets.

Yellow Labradorite Labradorite
Yellow Labradorite Classification
Common Name Yellow Labradorite
Yellow Labradorite Characteristic Physical properties
Specific Gravity 2.67
Toughness Poor
Inclusions Parting or twinning planes are common
Stability Fair

Optical Phenomena

Spectrolite

Spectrolite is the tradename for the phenomenal labradorite from Finland. Spectrolite is known for its colorful and striking iridescence that shows blue, green, yellow, orange and red colors.

Spectrolite Labradorite
Spectrolite Classification
Common Name Spectrolite
Spectrolite Optical Properties
Pleochroism None
Spectrolite Characteristic Physical properties
Specific Gravity 2.65
Toughness Poor
Inclusions Labradorite might show repeated twinning, black magnetite needle like inclusions, ilmenite, and metallic platelets that might be hematite.

Labradorescent

Displaying brilliant pastels and deep golden colors, labradorite features a spellbinding "black rainbow" of color. When appreciating the iridescent play of colors known as labradorescence, observe the strength and intensity by viewing from different angles, as different colors or even a range of colors may be visible from different positions.

Labradorescent Labradorite
Labradorescent Classification
Common Name Labradorescent
Labradorescent Optical Properties
Pleochroism None
Labradorescent Characteristic Physical properties
Specific Gravity 2.65
Toughness Poor
Inclusions Labradorite might show repeated twinning, black magnetite needle like inclusions, ilmenite, and metallic platelets that might be hematite.
Stability Fair

Sunstone (Labradorite)

Labradorite sunstone was only thought to be found in Eastern Oregon until 2015 when a variety labradorite-bytownite feldspar was discovered in the Afar region of Ethiopia. The three Oregon mines are the Dust Devil, Ponderosa and the Sunstone Butte. Stones can be near-colorless, green, red, yellow or combinations of these colors. The stones have tiny copper platelet inclusions that cause schiller or adventurescence.

Sunstone (Labradorite) Labradorite
Sunstone (Labradorite) Classification
Common Name Sunstone (Labradorite)
Sunstone (Labradorite) Characteristic Physical properties
Specific Gravity 2.67
Toughness Poor
Inclusions Oregon sunstone contain tiny orange or yellow copper platelets or hematite platelets and stones might display adventurescence. Parting is common in this material.
Stability Fair

Rainbow Moonstone

Adularescent labradorite with a multi-colored glow is sometimes called rainbow moonstone. Rainbow moonstone is colorless and highly transparent and it displays an amazing optical phenomenon called adularescence. Labradorite is a plagioclase feldspar and a member of the triclinic crystal system. Internally repeating feldspar layers scatter the light that enters the stone creating a mystical glow reminiscent of moonbeams. This glow comes to life, rolling across the gems surface, when it is moved.

Rainbow Moonstone Labradorite
Rainbow Moonstone Classification
Common Name Rainbow Moonstone
Rainbow Moonstone Optical Properties
CCF Reaction None
Pleochroism Unobservable
Rainbow Moonstone Characteristic Physical properties
Specific Gravity 2.650
Toughness Poor
Inclusions Moonstone occasionally contains colorless inclusions and might show parallel multiple twinning planes.
Stability Fair
Tim Matthews

Author

Tim Matthews

Tim Matthews is President and Chief Executive Officer of Jewelry Television® (JTV), as well as a member of the company's Board of Directors. He oversees and leads all aspects of the company's powerful omni-digital retail platform that uniquely specializes in fine jewelry and gemstones. His passion for business and gemstones has led him to become a recognized expert in the field of gemology. He is a life member of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (Gem-A) and has earned Gem-A's highest degrees, the Gemmology (FGA) and Diamond (DGA) diplomas. He is also a Graduate Gemologist (GG) of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and has also completed GIA's Graduate Diplomas in Diamonds, Colored Stones and Pearls. Under his leadership, JTV has become the leader in the sourcing and selling of color gemstones and jewelry.

This page was created on June 27, 2014.

This page was last edited on October 24, 2019.