For many jewelry designers and mineral enthusiasts, there is a realm mineralogy that can cross into our personal interest that is difficult to understand. This can be a barrier preventing newer designers from understanding the products they are purchasing or selling. Much of that information is shrouded in scientific language that requires a good deal of research to fully understand.
This is the case with stones like Labradorite. It is grey-toned stone that can shimmer with subtle shades of blue to sunset orange depending on the light. Labradorescence is an exclusive optical phenomenon that has solely shown by the feldspar gem Labradorite in this earth. Like many stones with iridescent properties, at first glance, it appears to be synthetic. With the major boom polychromatic finishes being applied to the outside of stones to make them flash with color-shifting properties, it’s easy to lump in some stones that have a naturally nacreous appearance. The name is nearly a misnomer as well -labradorite. It actually comes from the region in Canada from which it was discovered, Labrador. Labradorite mines are typically only located within that region, but the mineral has been found in northern Scandinavia as well as parts of Africa. Over the past three years the majority of Labradorite being cut into beads, cabs and pendants has been coming out of Madagascar. The quality and flash coming from these mines really stands out when compared to beads cut from other areas. It is not as well known as Opal or Moonstone, which are highly valued for similar iridescent qualities.
What gives labradorite its Labradorescence? It has to do with the way that light refracts off the polychromatic, three-dimensional cell structure inside the stone. The pigmented minerals are typically orientated in one direction, which is why you don’t often get the iridescent effect at multiple angles, like fire opals can have. For this reason, mining and cutting labradorite is a task that requires a practiced hand, and patience. We pick our stones with care, which assures that each stone glimmers uniquely. Labradorite is the kind of bead that can stand alone as a beautiful statement piece, or be paired with other iridescent stones like moonstone or opal for a whimsical effect.
Because these stones are completely natural, you do not have to worry about Labradorite losing its shimmery quality over time. It is a hardy stone that is perhaps sometimes overlooked. We sell this stone type in dark and light tones, and is among some of the oldest lines we carry to this day.
- Dakota Stones