As the most common mineral in the Earth’s crust, Feldspar makes up for a huge part of the mineral kingdom. Not all Feldspars are visually extraordinary but some are truly more than meets the eye.
Living up to its metaphysical reputation of being the stone of originality, Labradorite has a unique composition of minerals that form its crystal structure. These properties create the stunningly beautiful visual effects this gemstone is renowned for.
Labradorite, named after the Peninsula of Labrador in Canada where it was first identified by gemologists in 1770, is part of the plagioclase series of Feldspars. It has a chemical composition of varying ratios of two separate Feldspar minerals, Albite (sodium aluminum silicate) and Anorthite (calcium aluminum silicate) and Anorthite (calcium aluminum silicate). The two minerals alternatively layer each other in microscopic flakes throughout the stone, known to gemologists as lamellar twinning, and are planes of weakness within the crystal’s structure.
This particular structure is responsible for Labradorite’s incredible sheen, a colorful display of light reflected from beneath the stone’s surface, aptly named Labradorescense. The spectral colors of light, ranging from red through to violet, reflected from the stone are a result of light interference from the thin layers of the Feldspar minerals. This iridescent quality and range of color is why our Labradorite jewelry is so popular. When you see our Labradorite drop earrings, pendants and rings sway in the light, the colors transform into a spellbinding light show and are truly a magnificent sight. Due to this gemstone’s remarkable structural quality the most significant issue which may arise when it comes to the fashioning of the rough into polished pieces for jewelry setting, is parting of the gemstone along these twinning/layered planes and may take only a small amount of force. Labradorite measures 6 oh MOH’s scale of hardness which makes our Labradorite gemstone collection great for everyday wear.
More commonly unearthed with a green through blue sheen, Labradorite is traditionally favored with a rich blue/violet Labradorescence. Occasionally exceptional specimens are found with flashes of the full spectrum of color and tend to have the trade name ‘Spectrolite’. When they show bright, vivid multi-colors they often draw a much higher price. We have a limited selection of Spectrolite pendants and rings in our galleries and when we receive these remarkable pieces in, they are always snapped up quickly due to high demand.
Bunny Bedi, owner and designer at Made in Earth, shares his experiences and knowledge on working with Labradorite for over twelve years.
“We take great care and consideration when polishing Labradorite, cutting the stone in such a way so that the most vibrant and intense colors of the sheen are captured. Care also needs to be taken to ensure the twinning planes are not parallel to a facet or the durability of the gemstone is compromised whilst being set by our jewelers.”
It is for these reasons Labradorite traditionally lends itself to a cabochon finish although, when a stone is successfully faceted, the sheen can be even more intense than the soft roll of light over a domed cabochon. More recently Bunny has also introduced rough pieces into our gemstone jewelry collection.
“The raw surface and organic edges bring a new life to Labradorite. These stones still effectively show Labradorescence and appeal to our clients to favor raw crystals instead of polished gems.”
Bunny continues, “It is also important to ensure the natural beauty of Labradorite’s sheen is best viewed once the piece is being worn by its owner. Whether it’s our rich blue Madagascan gems or the multi-colored Spectrolite from Finland, each piece is carefully considered before being set.”
Despite the difficulties that may arise when polishing and setting this amazing gemstone, if treated carefully, with knowledge of its unusual crystal structure and potential for the display of beautiful and colorful visual phenomenon, labradorite truly is more than meets the eye. One of unique Labradorite rings or pendants is definitely a must have in any jewelry collection!