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Spectrolite vs Larvikite gemstones what is the difference

Spectrolite vs Larvikite: What's the Difference?

Play of colour in gemstones is incredibly striking, causing a single stone to display a wide array of hues depending on lighting conditions and viewing angles. Both spectrolite and larvikite demonstrate a breathtaking play of colour –often referred to as labradorescence – and some similarities in their overall appearance leave many wondering if the two stones are essentially the same.

While the visual similarities can make it easy to mistake the two gems for one another, when it comes to spectrolite vs. larvikite, there are some key differences that separate the two stones. Along with some variations in their appearance, there are compositional differences. Plus, the two stones don't come from the same part of the world.

Understanding how the two gemstones differ makes it easier to appreciate their uniqueness. Here's a look at larvikite vs. spectrolite, including what the stones are, how they differ, and more.

What Is Larvikite?

polished larvikite stone

Larvikite is technically classified as an igneous rock, and it's actually a type of monzonite. The base colour of the stone is typically quite dark, often being an incredibly deep gray or black. However, the gemstone demonstrates a fantastic play of color when properly cut and polished, showcasing iridescent light flickers in shades of blue and silver.

The name "larvikite" is based on the name of the town where the stone was initially discovered, specifically, Larvik, Norway. That location is where larvikite is primarily mined.

When it comes to its uses, larvikite does make its way into jewelry. It's also a popular option for specific construction applications, such as wall cladding and countertops. With the latter applications, larvikite is typically referred to by another name, such as blue pearl granite. However, calling it granite isn't wholly accurate based on the stone's composition.

Are Labradorite and Larvikite the Same?

While labradorite and larvikite are similar, they aren't the same stone. Labradorite is a calcium-rich feldspar mineral, while larvikite is low on calcium, so their compositions do differ.

Labradorite's play of colour may also include hues that you don't typically find in larvikite. While both rocks can contain shades of blue and silver, labradorite may exhibit fiery reds and oranges, striking yellows, and bold greens, too.

Is Larvikite the Same as Black Moonstone?

While larvikite is occasionally referred to as "black moonstone," that's not particularly accurate. Black moonstone is technically a different gemstone that originates in Madagascar and also demonstrates the Schiller effect, which results in a play of colour.

Though black moonstone is also a feldspar mineral, the compositions of the two gems aren't exactly the same. Additionally, black moonstone frequently has cream, tan, or brown striations, something that isn't as common with larvikite.

What Is Norwegian Pearl Granite?

Norwegian pearl granite is the name given to specific commercial products, namely countertops made from larvikite. Technically, calling the material granite isn't accurate, as larvikite doesn't contain some of the minerals classically found in granite, like quartz.

tumble polished larvikite

However, from a functional perspective, larvikite performs similarly to granites commonly used in countertops. As a result, referring to it as Norwegian pearl granite is potentially beneficial for companies looking to attract customers, as it gives them a clearer idea of what to expect if they purchase countertops made from it.

What Is Black Labradorite?

At times, larvikite is called black labradorite due to its dark basing colouring and similar play of colour. However, that name isn't particularly apt, as larvikite and labradorite are technically different stones. Still, calling larvikite black labradorite does help people understand what the gemstone looks like, as labradorite is far better known than larvikite among the general public.

What Is Spectrolite?

Spectrolite is a rare labradorite that originates in Finland. Along with a dark, opaque base hue, spectrolite typically shows an exceptional play of colour, with hues far richer than what you may find in other labradorite specimens.

Raw spectrolite specimen

The spectrolite gemstone was originally discovered in 1940 in Ylämaa, Finland, which is located in the southeastern portion of the country. After World War II, mining the material became a robust local industry. By the early 1970s, pieces were being cut and polished to create jewelry, and its use in that capacity only increased in the years that followed.

Are Labradorite and Spectrolite the Same?

Labradorite and spectrolite are highly similar, but they aren't necessarily exactly the same. Technically, spectrolite is a specific type of labradorite, making it a subcategory within the labradorite mineral category.

spectrolite labradoresence

Labradorite is the name for a feldspar mineral that was initially discovered in Labrador, Canada. Legends of the Inuit people say that the stone contained a bit of the Northern Lights, as the play of colour is highly similar to that naturally-occurring phenomenon. However, other locales also have stones with the same general composition.

Spectrolite is essentially a particular gem-quality version of labradorite that's only found in Finland. It's highly durable and rarer than most other forms of labradorite. Additionally, spectrolite typically has an opaque base colour, whereas labradorite may lean more translucent or transparent. Spectrolite is also classically associated with a wide array of iridescent colours, and they're often stronger hues than what you find in many other types of labradorite.

What Is Another Name for Spectrolite?

While some use "spectrolite" to refer to any labradorite piece with exceptional play of colour, that isn't accurate. Technically, spectrolite is a tradename for the specific version of labradorite mined in Finland. However, since spectrolite is labradorite – just a particular subtype of the stone – calling it labradorite isn't inherently wrong.

How Are Spectrolite and Larvikite Similar?

Spectrolite and larvikite are similar in that they both display a play of colour that results in iridescent flashes within the stone. However, larvikite's play of colour is typically limited to shades of blue and silver, while spectrolite is likelier to have a rainbow's worth of hues.

Additionally, spectrolite and larvikite are both feldspar minerals, though their exact compositions do differ. At times, spectrolite and larvikite crystals can have the same dark base colouring, though the base hue of spectrolite may also lean toward the lighter side in some cases.

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