This fascinating and colourful stone, which offers a range of colours and optical effects, has become a firm favourite with jewelry buyers and makers. It is named after its source in Labrador, Canada. Labradorite displays a metallic rainbow effect similar to that of black opal except with larger colour spots – the effect is called labradorescence. As with moonstone, the colours are produced by the interference of light at the junctions of internal structures. The material can be transparent orange, yellow, colourless and red, and may be cut into a faceted stone. Alternatively, labradorite can have a semi- opaque grey-black to grey-brown body colour with iridescent flashes of blues, yellows, greens and oranges that appear when it is moved in the light. This material is the most popular with buyers.
Madagascan labradorite is nearly transparent with a pale grey tint. It contains sparkling mica inclusions and has a beautiful colour play in peach, turquoise blue, yellow and pink.
Unfortunately, as in the case of rainbow moonstone, a great deal of poor-quality labradorite is being produced in bead and cabochon form. This rather murky grey-green material has very little colour play, and is full of cracks and is scuffed where the stones and beads rub against each other.