Labradorite was discovered on an island in Labrador, Canada, in the second half of the 18th century.
An ancient Eskimo legend says that the Northern Lights (also called Aurora Borealis) used to be frozen in the rocks on the Labrador coast
Labradorite is a feldspar mineral of the plagioclase series that is most often found in mafic igneous rocks such as basalt, gabbro, and norite. It is also found in anorthosite, an igneous rock in which labradorite can be the most abundant mineral.
Some specimens of labradorite exhibit a schiller effect, which is a strong play of iridescent blue, green, red, orange, and yellow colors. Labradorite is so well known for these spectacular displays of color that the phenomenon is known as "labradorescence."
Labradorescence is not a display of colors reflected from the surface of a specimen. Instead, light enters the stone, strikes a twinning surface within the stone, and reflects from it. The color seen by the observer is the color of light reflected from that twinning surface. Different twinning surfaces within the stone reflect different colors of light. Light-reflecting from different twinning surfaces in various parts of the stone can give the stone a multi-colored appearance, iridescent like the feathers of a peacock. Specimens with the highest quality labradorescence are often selected for use as gemstones. The quality, hue, and brilliance of the labradorescence vary from one specimen to another and within a single specimen. Stones with exceptional colors are often given the name "spectrolite.
Labradorite is rarely seen in mass-merchant jewelry. Instead, it is most often used by designers and jewelers who do unique and custom work.
The geological type area for labradorite is Paul's Island near the town of Nain in Labrador, Canada. It has also been reported in Norway, Finland, and various other locations worldwide, with notable distribution in Madagascar, China, Australia, Slovakia and the USA.