Labradorite Gemstone Cutting Advice


“Spectrolite Pink, Yellow, Orange Pear” by Jessa and Mark Anderson is licensed under CC By 2.0
“Spectrolite Pink, Yellow, Orange Pear” by Jessa and Mark Anderson is licensed under CC By 2.0

Question

I recently purchased a chunk of Wyoming spectrolite (or labradorite). Any tips for orienting for slabbing and for cutting and polishing would be appreciated.

 Thanks in Advance,

 Carl

1 Lucky Texan

Answer

Although you’ll see the names spectrolite and labradorite used interchangeably, this isn’t correct. Spectrolite is a trade name of labradorite feldspar from Finland that displays an unusual range of labradorescence, a flash of metallic color on the surface of the stone. Spectrolite shows strong flashes of multiple colors. Other varieties of labradorite from sources around the world may also show flashes of multiple colors. Although these stones are sometimes called spectrolites, the name should be reserved for those pieces from Finland.

The most important thing when cutting labradorite is the orientation. Get your rough wet and turn it until you get a good flash of color. Mark this as the “top.” (I’ve bought irregularly shaped labradorite and could still get a good clear starting mark). Next, saw the rock in layers so that this color will be flat across each slab cut. If you get more than one flash, choose the strongest. I doubt any grinding will be needed to see this color. If you don’t orient your rough, you’ll wind up with a translucent gray stone without any desirable color flash.

E. Jakeman

Ogden, Utah

“Madagascar Labradorite” by Jessa and Mark Anderson is licensed under CC By 2.0
“Madagascar Labradorite” by Jessa and Mark Anderson is licensed under CC By 2.0