Labradorite - Mineral and Healing Properties

Chemistry: Ca(50-70%) Na(50-30%) (Al, Si)AlSi2 O8, Calcium sodium aluminum silicate.

Class: Silicates

Subclass: Tectosilicates

Group: Feldspars

Uses: Ornamental and semi-precious stone

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Labradorite is truly a fascinatingly beautiful mineral. Its a mineral whose charm is not fully noticed and may be overlooked if not viewed from the proper position. Generally a dull, dark looking mineral with no special virtue until the colorful shiller is observed glowing on the surface. Labradorite can produce a colorful play of light across cleavage planes and in sliced sections called labradorescence. The usually intense colors range from the typical blues and violets through greens, yellows and oranges. Some rare specimens display all these colors simultaneously.

The color display is from lamellar intergrowths inside the crystal. These intergrowths result from compatible chemistries at high temperatures becoming incompatible at lower temperatures and thus a separating and layering of these two phases. The resulting color effect is caused by a ray of light entering a layer and being refracted back and forth by deeper layers. This refracted ray is slowed by the extra travel through the layers and mixes with other rays to produce a light ray coming out that has a different wavelength than when it went in. The wavelength could correspond to the wavelength of a particular color, such as blue.

The effect depends on the thickness and orientation of the layers. If the layers are too thick or too thin no color shiller is seen. Also if the viewer does not observe from the precise angle or if light is not supplied from the proper angle then no color shiller is seen. The labradorescence is truly a one of a kind mineralogical experience and must be observed in person in order to truly appreciate its beauty.

Origin Of The Name

The name Labradorite comes from the name of the country Labrador where it was first found. The color phenomenon that it shows has been named "labradorescence".

Interesting Facts

Labradorite has been found in some meteorites.

The finest quality Labradorite is found in Finland, and is called Spectrolite. Spectrolite is a dark and opalescent blue with a shimmer when the light hits it. It was discovered in Finland during WWII, and it is also called falcon's-eye.

According to an Eskimo legend, the Northern Lights were once imprisoned in the rocks along the coast of Labrador. It is told that a wandering Eskimo warrior found them and was able to free most of the lights with a mighty blow of his spear. Some of the lights were still trapped within the stone, and thus we have today the beautiful mineral known as labradorite.

Where Is It Found

Labradorite was originally discovered in on St. Paul Island, Labrador, Canada in 1770. Pieces of the stone were found amongst the artifacts of the Red Painted People of Maine. Spectrolite was discovered in Finland during World War II. It is considered to be the gem quality of Labradorite.

Spectrolite, the most valued type of labradorite, hails from Finland. Labradorite is also found in India, Madagascar, Newfoundland, and Russia.

What Do We Do With It

Labradorite which shows an iridescent play of colors is used in jewelry and lapidary items, and as an ornamental stone it has many popular uses such as in decorative clock faces, table and counter tops, facing for buildings.

Metaphysical Uses

Traditionally, labradorite is thought to bring good luck. Labradorite is said to provide quick relief from anxiety, hopelessness and depression, replacing them with enthusiasm, self-confidence and inspiration. It is said to dispel negativity and to bring clear understanding by enhancing clarity of thought and improving one's ability to cooperate with others in harmony.

Labradorite is also said to give perseverance, strength and enhanced intuition when one is experiencing times of conflict and change. Labradorite is told to be helpful in treating eye and brain disorders, and to help regulate metabolism and the digestive process. A sister to moonstone, labradorite links to the "darker" Crone aspects of the Goddess, and grants inner knowing. It enhances intuition and psychic perception's, it helps the bearer to release judgment, and understand their destiny. Crystal healers use Labradorite to clarify the eyes, acure disorders of the brain and promote digestion and metabolism.

Its metaphysical use s include sharpening mental acuity, reducing stress, and promoting calm amidst chaos. It is said to bring out the best in the wearer, and is sometimes known as the self-esteem stone. Called the Wizard's stone in mystic circles, this stone was worn as a good luck charm. When intended for healing purposes, labradorite should be carried as a touchstone tumbled or in jewelry, and then cleansed under running water.ÿ If it's surface becomes cloudy, it should be put in mineral water in placed in the sun for a few days to regenerate and refresh.

Physical Characteristics

Color: Gray to smoky black.

Luster: Dull to vitreous.

Transparency: Crystals are transparent to translucent.

Crystal System: Triclinic; bar 1

Crystal Habits: Blocky crystals that rarely form free of the host rock and therefore do not usually show their full crystal forms. In sliced sections of rock, the labradorite appears as blocky chunks with a predominance of near right angled corners. Twinning is common and pervasive so that in labradorite it produces a layered or stacked effect. The twin layers are typically only fractions of millimeters to several millimeters thick. Crystals of labradorite are found imbedded in gabbros and other mafic igneous rocks of low silica content. In anorthosites, labradorite is a main constituent.

Cleavage: Perfect in one and good in another direction forming nearly right angled prisms.

Fracture: Conchoidal.

Hardness: 6 - 6.5.

Specific Gravity: approximately 2.70 - 2.74 (average)

Streak: White.

Associated Minerals: Biotite, pyroxene and hornblende.

Other Characteristics: Index of refraction is 1.55 - 1.75. Play of colors called Labradorscence seen from certain directions can cause flashes of blue, violet and green and sometimes orange and yellow.

Best Field Indicators: Occurrence, twinning striations and labradorescence.

Educational Videos

Labradorite Cabochons

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