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Real vs. Fake Labradorite: Focus on These 8 Differences

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Real labradorite has such a unique play-of-color phenomenon that can be hardly copied in fake labradorites. However, even such an abundant mineral that can form geological bodies of thousands of square kilometers, sometimes, can be simulated. Fakes are quite rare. But we are here to protect you from these rare occasions.

The real labradorite effect is not even on the whole surface of the stone. It also has visible thin and parallel cleavage planes. Fake labradorite made of baked clay, UV resin, or polymer is softer than natural one and glows under UV light. Fakes are mostly thin slabs when real are cut en cabochon.

Aurora lights, Borealis, butterfly’s wings, rainbow – all of these used to describe the intriguing optical effect of labradorite. It’s very hard to imitate this phenomenon; however, online shops can sometimes surprise mineral lovers with fake labradorite. There are even some video tutorials on how to make labradorite at home. We will help you with fake labradorite identification, and you will always have only natural specimens.

If you are interested in checking out the best books about rocks and minerals identification you can find them by clicking here (Amazon link).

The Main Differences between Real and Fake Labradorite
The Main Differences between Real and Fake Labradorite

How To Tell if Labradorite is Real?

Real labradorite is a widespread mineral and is rarely imitated by fakes. It is very easy to identify real labradorite just by thorough observation of the stone.

Real labradorite has an inhomogeneous play-of-color effect. It can be observed even if rotated, while fake labradorite has a very distinct play of color, visible from all angles. Also, real labradorite is harder than fake. Fake can be scratched by a knife, glows under UV, and commonly occurs as a thin plate.

Real labradorite is

  1. Hard – 6 – 6.5 on the Mohs scale.
  2. Cold to the touch.
  3. Has uneven iridescence effect, which can be observed when rotated.
  4. Has two directions of perfect cleavage, intersecting at about 86 degrees.
  5. Doesn’t glow under UV.

What does Real Labradorite Look Like?

Labradorite (spectrolite) from Korosten Pluton, Ukrainian Shield, Ukraine (coin diameter is 24 mm) Photo: O. Rybnikova
Labradorite (spectrolite) from Korosten Pluton, Ukrainian Shield, Ukraine (coin diameter is 24 mm) Photo: O. Rybnikova

Labradorite belongs to a feldspar group of minerals. Feldspars are the most widespread minerals in the earth’s crust, as well as some of the most diverse. The closest related gemstones to labradorite, which belong to the same group, are moonstones and sunstones.

Real labradorite is grayish to a bluish semi-transparent gemstone, with iridescence optical effect which looks like blues and greens bands of shimmering spectral color when it’s rotated or viewed from different angles. It’s quite hard and heavy, feels cold to the touch, and inert to UV light.

Labradorite was firstly described in eighteen century on the coast of Labrador, Canada, for which the mineral is named.

Labradorite is a plagioclase feldspar. It forms fine, microscopic, intergrown layers of albite and other plagioclase feldspars. When light hits the layers, the light waves interfere with each other, creating bands of shimmering spectral color, typically blues and greens. This phenomenon is called labradorescence, named after the mineral that displays it.

Spectrolite is a variety of labradorite from Ukraine, Finland, and Madagascar, which displays its labradorescence in brilliant spectral colors of a fiery yellow, orange, and

red, as well as blue and green. Because of its brightness and its range of phenomenal color, spectrolite is the most desirable labradorite type.

BTW: Do you want to know more about rocks and minerals identification? The books listed below are the best ones you can find on the internet (Amazon links):

How to Identify Real Labradorite Stone?

Real labradorite is easily identifiable. As all the natural mineral material is hard, dense, and heavy, unlike artificial polymer imitations.

Real labradorite stone can be identified due to its hardness: it cannot be scratched by a cooper and steel needle. Real labradorite stays inert and doesn’t glow under UV light. Real labradorite is usually cut en cabochon with a high dome. It can have one color of effect or a rainbow of colors in one sample.

TIP: Chisel is one of the best tools for digging labradorites in the nature. But what kind of chisel to use? Find out the main differences between rock and cold chisels in the article below:


Rock Chisel vs. Cold Chisel: What’s the Difference?


How to Spot Fake Labradorite?

The increasing popularity of labradorite has led to the creation of fake gemstones. It’s important for the Customer to be able to distinguish real labradorite from fake ones. 

Fake labradorite has a very distinct play-of-color. Usually, there is more than one color, and it doesn’t disappear while viewed from different angles. Fake can be spotted due to its low hardness (scratched by a knife), and it glows under UV light. When it is not mounted, the backside will be black and opaque.

Fake labradorite is produced the next way:

  1. The black opaque clay is rolled into a thin flexible plate.
  2. The plate is painted in various colors, sometimes with metallic luster and blended.
  3. The clay plate is baked in an oven at 245 0F (180 C) for 1 -2 hours.
  4. As soon as the material cooled down, a thin layer of UV resin was placed on the top.
  5. The UV resin quickly solidifies (2 minutes) in a UV lamp or after 2-3 hours under the sunlight.

The fake can be spotted due to the absence of the labradorescence effect. The colors are visible all the time from different points of view.

Fakes are usually too thin, while real labradorites are thick cabochons.

The hardness of fake labradorite is lower than that of the natural one. Fakes can be scratched by a copper and steel needle or a knife.

Is Labradorite from China Real?

Labradorite from China is real. In most cases, it is not mined in China but just transported there for processing. Labradorite mined in Madagascar and sent to China for cutting, polishing, and mounting into jewels. After that, it is transported to every corner of our planet. 

TIP: Labradorite is one of the feldspar variety. Feldspar is mistaken with quartz mineral sometimes so it is good to know the difference between these two beautiful minerals. Check them out in the article below:


Feldspar vs. Quartz: What’s the Difference? 5 Crucial Signs


Real vs. Fake Labradorite: The Main Differences

Fake labradorites can be easily spotted. Here is the table with the main characteristics which will help you to differentiate between the fake and real stone.

Characteristic propertyReal labradoriteFake labradorite
Characteristic of labradorescence effectInhomogeneous, unevenly distributed on the surface. Can be observed from one view of perspective.The surface is evenly covered with colors. The effect can be observed from all angles.
The number of colorsUsually one or two colors (blue and green).Natural spectrolite (a variety of real labradorite) has a rainbow of colors.Have 4-7 colors. Extremely colorful.
Micro-layered structureHas a natural cleavage, which can be observed as a number of parallel thin fractures.Fractures can be painted in black color. Usually too thick.
Touch testCold to the touch.Warm to the touch, as it is  mostly made of polymers and resins.
Hardness6 – 6.5 on Mohs scale. Cannot be scratched by a copper or steel needle.Can be scratched by a copper and steel needle.
UV light testInert to UV light.UV resins and polymers can sometimes glow light blue under UV.
The appearance of the backsideBackside is represented by grayish to black body color, mostly without labradorescence effect.The backside can be black and opaque.
The thicknessUsually cut en cabochon with a high dome and rarely as thin plates.Extremely thick. Commonly less than 1 cm.
The Main Differences between Real and Fake Labradorite

TIP: Real labradorite often occurs in mafic igneous rocks. Do you know what the interesting and cool facts about igneous rocks are? Check them out in the article below:


11 Cool & Interesting Facts About Igneous Rocks (Must Read)


Conclusion

Labradorite is truly a miracle of nature. It is an abundant mineral and rarely simulated. However, sometimes fakes made of resins and polymers appear on the market.

Fakes can be spotted by the next characteristics:

  • Fakes have very distinct colors.
  • Flashes of light can be observed from different angles when the real labradorite effect can be observed from one side.
  • Fakes do not usually exhibit cleavage fractures.
  • Fake labradorite made of resins and polymers is warm to the touch.
  • Fake labradorite can be identified by a hardness test. It is softer than the real one and can be scratched by a copper and steel needle.
  • Fake labradorite glows in light-blue color under UV light.
  • The backside of fake labradorite is usually a dense and opaque material of black color.
  • Fake labradorites are usually thin, while natural one is commonly cut as highly domme cabochon.

Just an attentive observation and basic mineralogical tests like hardness and UV will help you to identify whether it is fake or real labradorite in front of you.

TIP: UV light testing is one of the best way how to spot fake labradorite. Do you know what other rocks glow under UV light? Check them out in the article below:


12 Rocks & Minerals That Glow Under UV Light & Black Light