Labradorite: Aurora Borealis Gemstone
Labradorite is a gemstone unlike any other. So strange in fact that its iridescence was given a separate name.
It is mostly used in bead making, though high quality labradorite is frequently used in jewelry as well.
What is Labradorite?
Labradorite is a ortoclase feldspar mineral usually found in basalt and gabbro rocks. It is closely related to moonstone and sunstone.
It is named after the largest source of this mineral, Paul’s Island Labrador near Newfoundland in Canada. Gemstone variants of labradorite can be found in Finland, Madagascar and Mexico.
Its main color is blue, but it can also display yellow, red, orange and green colors. The most valued property of labradorite is its iridescence. Called labradorescence or schiller effect, which shines with a vivid blue color.
A gemstone quality labradorite that displays strong labradorescence is often called a spectrolite. This variety is almost exclusively found in Finland.
Other labradorite properties are its fairly high hardness, scoring 6 to 6.5 on Mohs hardness scale. While it has three directions of cleavage it does not shatter or chip easy. Most labradorite is polished or cut en cabochon. Though there certainly are faceted variants on the market.
The high availability and demand that is mostly focused on labradorite beads has resulted in low prices for both beads and faceted gemstones. Large stones are often used as ornaments instead of being cut into smaller pieces.
For those who believe in the power of crystals and stones, labradorite is a tool that stimulates creativity. It increases your enthusiasm and imagination so new ideas will quickly form.
Taking Care of Your Labradorite Gemstone
Labradorite care is quite easy, especially if you buy the polished variant instead of a faceted one. It can be worn every day without fear of losing its beauty. Still there’s a few things you should keep in mind:
- Like always you should store your gemstones separately. While labradorite certainly has a good hardness, it can’t compare to sapphires and diamonds for example and can be scratched.
- Cleaning should be done with warm water and soap. Ultrasonic jewelry cleaners are a possibility, but you certainly should not use a jewelry cleaner on it.
- Physical labor while wearing this stone is not advisable. While it most likely won’t damage the stone you will have to clean it more often.
Labradorite Buying Guide
Labradorite is quite cheap; a good quality labradorite cabochon suitable for beading usually sells for between $3 and $6 per carat.
While high quality stones that can easily be used as the focal point in labradorite jewelry sell for around $20 per carat.
Because they are quite cheap there are very little if any imitations on the market. Enhancements apart from waxing and oiling are uncommon as well.
The main reason for this is that the value of these gemstones comes from the labradorescence which is extremely hard to imitate. So while dyeing is certainly possible it will not look convincing if you’ve ever seen natural labradorite.
My advice to those of you that are interested in buying labradorite would be to go for a cabochon cut or polished piece. These show the most brilliant labradorescence. They are easier to find and are also cheaper than a similar quality faceted labradorite.
You certainly can get rings, earrings or bracelets with low carat stones. However the real beauty of labradorite only starts to shine through in somewhat larger pieces. Which means that you should probably buy a labradorite necklace or pendant, unless you like large rings.
Buying a loose gemstone and getting it set is possible and best if you intend on wearing something unique. However there is a lot of preset jewelry for sale in every quality and price-class you can think of. So if you don’t want the hassle of getting custom-made jewelry you can stick to that.
The vivid blue combines especially nice with dark gemstones like black onyx and hematite. Other opaque gemstones like moonstone, pearls or jade offer a nice contrast as well. It’s probably best to go for silver or platinum jewelry, gold looks a bit out of place next to labradorite.
Larger ornamental stones can be bought in various places. From crystal shops to more specialized markets where you can buy rock garden supplies. It’s best to call in advance though, as you want a decent selection before heading there. Especially because the quality and looks of labradorite can vary a lot.
Though particularly suitable for beading, labradorite used in jewelry or simply as a good looking display stone will not look out of place in anyone’s collection. The price should not be a problem, as labradorite is a stone suitable for almost any budget.