Labradorite is part of the feldspar group of minerals one of the most abundant group of minerals in the Earth's crust. Feldspars are known for being fascinatingly iridescent which can often be seen in both labradorite and moonstone. In sunstone which is another feldspar more of a spangled effect can be seen.
The name labradorite comes from the Labrador region of Canada where the stone was originally discovered around 1770 however since then, it has been found in a number of other locations around the world including Australia, Finland, Italy, Norway and Ukraine. It's quite common for rocks and minerals to either be named after the person who discovered them or after the location where they were originally found hence the name Labrador-ite. Since the name doesn't roll off the tongue particularly well, it's sometimes pronounced la_brad_orite with the emphasise being on the second syllable brad.
Labradorite can be a fascinating and beautiful stone especially after having been polished and although it can sometimes initially look a little dull, once it catches the light the magical colours and iridescence become visible it makes you really appreciate what an incredible mineral this is. Whilst some stones are more iridescent than others in the finest grades of labradorite spectacular peacock blue and lush green colours can be seen dancing across the surface of the stone. Although blues and greens are the most common, reds, yellows and greys can also sometimes be seen.
Labradorite is so well known for this optical effect that the word labradorescence was created to describe it. The words adularescence and aventurescence describes similar effects that can be seen in moonstone and aventurine. All of these words originate from the German word schiller but the precise meaning varies depending on the text that you read. During our research we've seen it being translated as twinkle, iridescence and colour play which apparently comes from the word "schillern" but the exact meaning of the word schiller has changed as the German language has evolved.
Optical effects are not uncommon in rocks and minerals and labradorescence or schiller however you wish to describe it, is caused as light is scattered and reflected from within the mineral. The finer grade stones can be pretty impressive but capturing the effect in a photograph can be a challenge because labradorescence is best seen as a stone is gently moved around capturing light at different angles.
The labradorite that can be found on the north central coast of Labrador in Canada is some of the finest in the world but very fine grade material can also be found in Finland specifically Lapland where it's known as spectrolite. Highly transparent gemstones with fantastic schiller come from Southern India and fine grade gems suitable for faceting can be found in Mexico. Dark grey labradorite generally comes from Madagascar.
In crystal healing labradorite is considered to be a stone of transformation which offers protection and raises consciousness. Its iridescence acts as a reflective shield which protects the aura from unwanted energy and the stone can also help expel fears and insecurities.
Like most feldspars labradorite is a relatively hard stone which grades 6 to 6½ on Mohs scale of mineral hardness.