Larvikite and labradorite are beautiful gems sought after worldwide for their iridescent shine.
Many people assume that they are the same mineral, but is this truly the case?
Come along, and let’s explore together how they might compare.
Larvikite vs Labradorite: Explained
What is Larvikite?
Sometimes known inaccurately as blue pearl granite or blue granite, the larvikite stone is a fairly ordinary rock.
It is igneous and is a variety of monzonite.
It is also rich in titanium.
A close look at a larvikite stone will reveal crystals of feldspar; these crystals are no bigger than your thumbnail.
For those who may not know what feldspar is, it is a group of minerals made up of aluminum, sodium, and calcium and makes up more than half of the earth’s crust.
Interestingly, the blue and silver sheen of the larvikite comes from alternating layers of the two groups of feldspar.
These two groups are alkali and plagioclase.
If you’ve ever traveled through Norway, the name “larvikite” might sound familiar to you; it comes from the town in which it was first discovered, Larvik, Norway.
One might also find the stone near Thunder Bay in Ontario, Canada, in the Killala Lake Alkalic Rock Complex.
Norway has been mining this particular stone for a very long time.
Records can track the mining back to 1880.
The larvikite stone has a pearl luster and is blue and gray.
On the Mohs scale, a scale created by geologist Friedrich Mohs to describe the hardness of rocks, larvikite falls between 6 and 6.5.
Larvikite is a commonly used facing stone.
You will often see it used in building facades.
One can also see it in ornamental objects such as bookends.
Some will use the stone for meditation and believe that larvikite can enhance inner strength.
What is Labradorite?
From the triclinic crystal system, which refers to crystals with three axes of differing lengths, this colorful gemstone changes in color as you rotate it under the light.
The labradorite stone has a dark base color that gently shifts to a rainbow of blue, green, red, and yellow.
The unique coloring occurs when lamellar structures, also known as microstructures, of materials within the rock begin to break down in cooler temperatures.
When they break apart, layers start to form.
As the light hits these layers, it refracts and creates the metallic rainbow sheen for which the labradorite mineral is famous.
Moravian missionaries found it in the 18th century on Paul’s Island near Labrador, Canada.
One can also spot the stone all over the world in places such as the United States, China, Poland, and Australia.
There is a variety of labradorite found in Finland called “spectrolite.”
This stone is exceedingly rare and has much lighter colors than is usually found in labradorite.
Rated 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, the labradorite stone is transparent to translucent.
It is a multicolored stone.
One can watch the colors change in the rock when it is moved in the light.
Ove Balthasar Bøggild coined the term “labradorescence” to describe the optical illusion of shifting colors.
Labradorite holds special meaning for the Inuit people of Canada.
Their legends say that the stone initially contained the Northern Lights.
Upon being struck by a warrior’s spear, the lights burst out of the labradorite and flew to the sky. Now everyone can see and enjoy the dancing colors.
Labradorite is a commonly used gemstone in jewellery such as necklaces or rings. You might also spot it in glass and ceramics.
How Are Larvikite and Labradorite Alike?
The two rocks can look quite similar, particularly after being polished.
Both larvikite and labradorite are known for their flashy and opalescent sheens.
The flash of colors is known as the Schiller effect or labradorescence.
The two connect through the feldspar family, though they are not identical.
Labradorite is what is known as a plagioclase feldspar mineral.
Larvikite, on the other hand, is a ternary feldspar.
A ternary feldspar is a mineral made up of three different composites. In the case of larvikite, this means orthoclase, albite, and anorthite.
They have similar hardness ratings on the Mohs scale and are varieties of igneous rock.
What Makes Larvikite and Labradorite Different?
While both stones are igneous in nature, they are not the same kind of igneous rock.
Both form in cooled magma, but they differ in composition.
Larvikite is a kind of monzonite.
Monzonite is a majority of alkali and plagioclase, which, as we noted earlier, is where the larvikite stone gets its unique shading of blue and gray.
On the other hand, labradorite is known as “mafic igneous.”
The term “mafic” is a combination of the words “magnesium” and “ferric.”
Mafic minerals are rich in iron, magnesium, and calcium.
The labradorite’s darker colors come from the rich mafic minerals.
There is also a striking difference between the two in appearance.
You will not find the rich colors of the labradorite inside a larvikite rock.
Set the two side-by-side, and one will always outshine the other.
Why Do People Confuse Larvikite With Labradorite?
It seems reasonably understandable why some might confuse these two rocks.
They both have stunning colors that can take one’s breath away.
They both also belong to the feldspar family.
The feldspar sparkle, meaning the similar flash of color found in both the labradorite and larvikite, can make it easy to confuse one for the other.
It could also be that the description, labradorescence, given to both rocks to describe their shimmering colors may also cause people to mix up the two stones.
Over time, people tend to make up their own names for different rocks.
Larvikite is no exception.
Some refer to it as “black labradorite”, and some people have gone further and have taken to calling it simply, “labradorite.”
It will come as no shock to discover how these false labels have been misleading.
While both stones are remarkably similar in a few ways, they are unique in their characteristics.
Thanks for coming along on the journey to learn about labradorite and larvikite.
You might also like: