Labradorite is a truly unique and captivating stone.
It is relatively rare and has features that aren’t seen on any other stone, making it highly desirable.
It is so beautiful that some of the only forms you can find it in are jewelry, tumbled stones, and natural decorative slabs.
Because it is so sought-after, it is important to be able to distinguish it from other stones.
How To Spot Fake Labradorite (Explained)
Labradorite is a type of feldspar mineral, which is where it gets its characteristic optical features.
It has a unique kind of iridescence, which has been coined ‘labradorescence’.
It is found in a variety of colors, which are created by whatever color is reflected by the light shining through it, creating a prism-like color display.
While this may be common in other elements such as water, it is remarkable to find in a stone.
There is the more well-known, metallic-rainbow look of labradorite, as well as certain species of moonstone and sunstone.
It was first found in Labrador, Canada, which is where it got its name.
A specific type of labradorite called spectrolite has been found in Finland, which is an even clearer and more spectacular-looking species of the stone.
Tips for Identifying Labradorite
Since it is such a unique stone, it’s difficult to imagine how it could be mistaken for something else.
However, it is always important to be able to identify a stone, especially one as valuable as labradorite.
Here are some easy-to-follow tips.
Does it have the famous ‘labradorescence’?
What would labradorite be without labradorescence?
This is what makes labradorite so special.
It has a ‘twinning surface’, which is why light is able to reflect through it in the extraordinary way that it does.
Even the specific species of sunstone and moonstone that are classified as labradorite exhibit this same, almost projected three dimensional color play, though to a subtler extent.
What do the colors look like?
In true labradorite, there should be more than one color, although most species have a dominant color.
There is pink, purple, blue, and black labradorite, but they all have interplays of other colors mixed in.
However, they should all have optical effects reminiscent of the Aurora Borealis.
What is the luster?
“Luster” refers to how light is reflected off a stone.
Because of labradorite’s unique labradorescence, the light doesn’t so much reflect off the stone as it reflects through it.
Therefore, it doesn’t have a super shiny, sparkly luster, but it has a dramatic inner relationship with light.
What is the hardness?
The MOHS hardness scale is used to find the hardness of a stone.
It is a scale of one through ten, with one being the softest and ten being the hardest.
Labradorite is usually a six on the scale, which means that it is a relatively soft stone.
Luckily, it is quite simple to test a stone’s hardness.
A substance higher up on the scale will be able to scratch a substance lower on the scale, but something lower on the scale cannot scratch something higher up.
A steel knife, or other steel object, is lower on the scale, usually around a five.
Try scratching the steel object with the labradorite.
If it is successful, then you know that your stone is higher up on the MOHS scale than steel.
If you want to be even more accurate, try scratching the labradorite with something higher up than a six, like quartz, which is a seven.
If the quartz is able to scratch the labradorite, then you will have a very definite hardness reading.
What is the cleavage?
Cleavage refers to the angles at which the stone breaks off.
The breaks happen where the stone has softer inclusions or striations.
Labradorite cleaves in a very particular way.
The cleavage happens at two distinct, intersecting angles, one at 86° and one at 94°.
This one may be a little trickier to tell, but it is a sure-fire way to identify a labradorite stone.
Remember that labradorite can be confused with other stones
Because labradorite is such a valuable stone, you want to make sure that you have it identified correctly.
Although there are some rare moonstones and sunstones that can be categorized as labradorite, they are generally considered ‘sister stones’.
They are different kinds of feldspar stones, so they often have a similar luminescence.
However, for the most part, they are not under the labradorite umbrella.
Hematite is another stone with a luminescence akin to labradorescence and comes in all different colors.
However, it only takes on these characteristics once tumbled.
It is found naturally as a crystal, similar to quartz.
Keep a lookout for treated labradorite
Since labradorite is such a desirable stone, many vendors will dye or heat treat the stone in order to make it more colorful and try to sell it for higher prices.
They usually do this with labradorite that is naturally less vibrant.
There are a few great ways to tell if a stone has been treated.
If the colors are a little too bright and seem fake, it probably is, so use good discernment.
Also, stones are usually treated by being heated up, which cracks the inside of the stone, and the dye is inserted into the cracks.
If you see this sort of spider web effect under the surface of the stone, it means that it has been injected with dyes.
This will also often lessen the labradorescence.
Caring for your labradorite
Since labradorite is such a soft and delicate stone, be sure to keep it away from other rocks, crystals and tools.
It is especially susceptible to scratches if left inside a jewelry box.
It can be easily damaged; touching it to something harder can scratch it.
Clean it simply with a damp washcloth and dry it off immediately.
Labradorite is a truly special stone.
Be extra careful in identifying it so that you can care for it properly.
If you stumble upon a piece of labradorite, consider yourself very fortunate.
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