Labradorite – Stone Born of the Northern Lights

Aurora borealis in Alaska

Aurora borealis seen in Alaska

An ancient Inuit legend tells us that long ago the Northern Lights were trapped inside the rocks along the coast of Labrador.  One day they were found by an Inuit warrior who freed them with his spear.  Sadly, the warrior couldn’t release of all the lights and so some remained imprisoned in the rocks.  This is why labradorite is found in the rocks of Labrador today.

polished labradorite from Madagascar

Polished labradorite - photo by Prokofiev

The rainbow coloured reflections seen in labradorite, known as labradorescence or schiller, do indeed resemble the beauty of the Northern Lights.  It is therefore not surprising that shortly after its discovery in 1770 by Moravian missionaries on Paul Island in Labrador, Canada, labradorite became a popular stone for use in jewelry in France and England. 

Labradorite slab - photo by Kluka

The stone remains popular today.  Labradorite shows at its best when it is able to move to catch the light, which transforms the dark grey stone into a fiery, iridescent thing of beauty.  For this reason, pieces that move, such as drop earrings and rings are better able to show the beauty of the stone than necklaces or pins which are more static.

Labradorite has many internal layers and cracks, so care must be taken with the stone.  It can break in two if it receives a blow or if too much pressure is applied to it.  The fragility of the stone makes it a poor choice for use in bracelets and cuff links which get banged around frequently.  Labradorite can also easily chip or become scuffed, so it should be stored properly when not in use.  Ultrasonic and steam cleaning are not recommended for this gemstone. 

These are some of the labradorite cabochons in my stone collection.  Photos can never capture the full beauty of this stone as it is best seen in movement.  If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing this stone in person, I highly recommend seeking some out.  It will be worth it!

Labradorite cabochons

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